Friday, March 29, 2013

Stanley Koren's "God Helmet"

From Wiki:

The "God Helmet" refers to an experimental apparatus originally called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren. It was developed by Koren and neuroscientist Michael Persinger to study creativity and the effects of subtle stimulation of the temporal lobes. Reports by participants of a "sensed presence" while wearing the God helmet brought public attention and resulted in several TV documentaries.

The device has been used in Persinger's research in the field of neurotheology, the study of the neural correlates of religion and spirituality.

The apparatus, placed on the head of an experimental subject, generates very weak fluctuating magnetic fields, that Persinger refers to as "complex." These fields are approximately as strong as those generated by a land line telephone handset or an ordinary hair dryer, but far weaker than that of an ordinary refrigerator magnet and approximately a million times weaker than transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Persinger reports that many subjects have reported "mystical experiences and altered states" while wearing the God Helmet. The foundations of his theory have been criticized in the scientific press, anecdotal reports by journalists, academics and documentarists have been mixed and the effects reported by Persinger have not been independently replicated.

The only attempt at replication published in the scientific literature reported a failure to reproduce Persinger's effects and the authors proposed that the suggestibility of participants, improper blinding of participants or idiosyncratic methodology could explain Persinger's results. Persinger argues that the replication was technically flawed,but the Swedish researchers have stood by their replication.


The God Helmet was not specifically designed to elicit visions of God, but to test several of Persinger's hypotheses about brain function. The first of these is the Vectorial Hemisphericity Hypothesis,which proposes that the human sense of self has two components, one on each side of the brain, that ordinarily work together but in which the left hemisphere is usually dominant.

Persinger argues that the two hemispheres make different contributions to a single sense of self, but under certain conditions can appear as two separate 'selves'. Persinger and Koren designed the God Helmet in an attempt to create conditions in which contributions to the sense of self from both cerebral hemispheres is disrupted.

The second experimental hypothesis was that when communication between the left and right senses of self is disturbed, as they report it is while wearing the God Helmet, the usually-subordinate 'self' in the right hemisphere intrudes into the awareness of the left-hemispheric dominant self, causing what Persinger refers to as "interhemispheric intrusions".

The third hypothesis was that "visitor experiences" could be explained by such "interhemispheric intrusions" caused by a disruption in "vectorial hemisphericity". Persinger theorises that many paranormal experiences, feelings of having lived past lives, felt presences of non-physical beings,ghosts, muses, and other "spiritual beings", are examples of interhemispheric intrusions.

The God Helmet experiments were also intended, though not specifically designed (see above), to validate the idea that religious and mystic experiences are artifacts of temporal lobe function.

The Device

Persinger uses a modified snowmobile helmet that incorporates solenoids placed over the temporal lobes. This device produces magnetic fields that Persinger describes as "weak but complex"(1 microTesla). The pattern of fluctuation in these magnetic fields is derived from physiological sources, for example patterns that appear in EEG traces taken from limbic structures.The purpose of exposing magnetic fields patterned after neurophysiological sources, such as the burst-firing profile of the amygdala, is to enhance the probability of activating the structure from which the signal was derived.

Only one of the coils on each side of the helmet is active at any one time, and the active coil changes constantly, "rotating" counterclockwise over each temporal lobe. Persinger's God Helmet sessions consist of two stimulations, applied one after the other.

The first of these uses a signal "tailored from a Chirp Signal sequence,applied over right temporal lobe. In the second phase of the procedure, both temporal lobes are stimulated, with a pattern derived from the amygdala.

The sessions are conducted with the subject seated in an acoustic chamber. The acoustic chamber is also a Faraday cage, shielding out all EMF emissions and radiation except the Earth's magnetic field. Persinger reports that this shielding allows him to use the apparatus to investigate the effects of geomagnetism on the human brain.

Failed replication and subsequent debate

In December 2004 Nature reported that a group of Swedish researchers led by Pehr Granqvist, a psychologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, had attempted to replicate Persinger's experiments under double-blind conditions, and were not able to reproduce the effect.

The study was published in Neuroscience Letters in 2005. Granqvist et al concluded that the presence or absence of the magnetic field had no relationship with any religious or spiritual experience reported by the participants, but was predicted entirely by their suggestibility and personality traits.
Persinger, however, takes issue with the Swedish attempts to replicate his work. "They didn't replicate it, not even close," he says. He argues that the Swedish group did not expose the subjects to magnetic fields for long enough to produce an effect. Granqvist et al. respond that Persinger agreed with their proposed methodology beforehand and they stand by their replication.

The theoretical basis for the God helmet, especially the connection between temporal lobe function and mystic experiences, has also been questioned.

Jack Kirby's evil mutant, Magneto -- now there's a God Helmet.

In the News: Critics slam Obama for "protecting" Creve Coeur-based Monsanto

There's no love lost between Washington and the American public, it seems, five days after Congress for the first time in years managed to handle a budget-related issue without reaching the brink of crisis.
Protesters have descended on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House this week, enraged at a potentially health-hazardous provision they allege lawmakers inserted surreptitiously into a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill sailed through the Capitol on Friday; President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.

Opponents have termed the language in question the "Monsanto Protection Act," a nod to the major agricultural biotech corporation and other like firms geared at producing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation suits over health risks posed by the crops' consumption.

Food safety advocacy groups like Food Democracy Now, which collected more than 250,000 signatures on a petition calling for the president to veto the CR, argue not enough studies have been conducted into the possible health risks of GMO and GE seeds. Eliminating judicial power to halt the selling or planting of them essentially cuts off their course to ensuring consumer safety should health risks emerge.
Seeking a "balance" to the newly minted law, Food Democracy Now has shifted its tactics to encouraging supporters to sign and send letters to Mr. Obama, chiding him for signing the legislation despite that refusal to do so would have expired the federal budget and triggered a government-wide shutdown this week.

Part of the template for the letter reads: "In an effort to balance this violation of our basic rights, I am urging you as President to issue an Executive Order to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, something that you promised farmers while on the campaign trail in 2007. It is urgent that the U.S. government rectify the 20 year old politically engineered loophole and allow for open and transparent labeling of genetically engineered foods," the letter continues, "a basic right that citizens in 62 others countries already enjoy."

Other groups have aimed their ire toward the more worthy target, criticizing Congress for slipping the language into a must-pass bill without review by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The International Business Times reports that the Center for Food Safety is putting in the hot seat Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, for not giving the amendment a proper hearing. According to Salon, many members of Congress who voted to approve the bill were unaware the language existed.

"In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto," Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, according to IBT. "This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate."

Bobby Parker "Watch Your Step"

Bobby Parker at the Montreux Blues Festival 2004

Jimmy Cliff "The Harder They Come"

Joe Strummer and Jimmy Cliff – “Over the Border” The Daily Record  by Joel Francis

In the early days of the London punk scene, DJ/filmmaker/musician Don Letts played reggae albums at the famed Roxy Club. At first the reggae was a necessity – the punk scene was still too young for any of the bands to record their own material. But even after the punk catalog exploded, the reggae remained.

“The punks were digging on the old anti-establishment chant down Babylon (attitude), heavy bass lines and they didn’t mind the weed,” Letts told Mojo magazine in 2008.

Not that this was many of the punks’ first exposure to the Jamaican genres.

“People like (Joe) Strummer, (John) Lydon and (Paul) Simonon didn’t need Don Letts to turn them on,” Letts said in the same interview.

Strummer, Simonon and the remaining members of the Clash likely stumbled upon Toots and the Maytalls’ “Pressure Drop” shortly after its 1972 release on the soundtrack to “The Harder They Come.” Both the film and the soundtrack had a profound influence on Strummer. In 1977 the band covered “Pressure Drop,” which was released in 1979 as the b-side to “English Civil War.” The title of their second album, “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” borrows the style of “The Harder They Come” by introducing a well-known phrase and letting the second half remain implied (i.e. “… and they’ll hang themselves”).
“Safe European Home,” one of the tracks on “Rope,” not only name checks “The Harder They Come,” but borrows the phrase “Rudie can’t fail” from another reggae song, foreshadowing the band’s biggest foray into the ska/Two-Tone sound. Finally, Strummer borrowed the film plot of “The Harder They Come” and adapted it to his British punk interpretation titled “Rude Boy.”

Two decades after the release of “Rude Boy,” Strummer recorded his own version of “The Harder They Come.” Teaming with the Long Beach Dub All-Stars and U.K. reggae singer Tippa Irie, his cover was released on the 2000 benefit album “Free the West Memphis Three.” Strummer’s interpretation doesn’t alter much from Jimmy Cliff’s original, but he’s clearly having a great time. Strummer thought enough of the song that another recording of the song was posthumously released the b-side to “Coma Girl.” Recorded live with the Strummer’s final band, the Mescaleros, this version is taken at a faster tempo and joyously ragged and raw.

At one of his final recording sessions, Strummer finally got to collaborate with Cliff. Upon learning where Cliff was recording his latest album, Strummer showed up with some unfinished lyrics in hand that he felt Cliff should sing. “Over the Border,” the song that grew out of this partnership appeared on Cliff’s 2004 album “Black Magic.”

Cliff described the session with shortly before his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

“The two of them (producer Dave Stewart and Strummer) began playing guitar, and I came up with the melody, and then Joe chipped in with some help on the melody as well,” Cliff said. “We recorded the song right away. That was a really special moment for me. You can imagine the shock I felt after hearing that Joe was not with us anymore.”

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz "The Girl From Ipanema" 1964

“The Girl from Ipanema”  (“Garota de Ipanema”) was written in 1962 by Antonio Carlos Jobim with original Portuguese lyrics by poet Vinicius de Moraes. The song became famous worldwide with its inclusion on the 1964 landmark Bossa Nova album Getz/Gilberto. Jobim originally composed the music at his home in the seaside Ipanema distritc of Rio De Janeiro. The photo above is of the girl who inspired the song, Heloísa Pinheiro.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In the News: Certain microbes in the gut could have an impact on metabolism, thereby influencing weight loss

Weight loss after gastric band surgery may be partly caused by changes to micro-organisms that live in the gut, say US researchers.

A study in mice has shown that surgery causes different types of bacteria to colonize the gut.

Transferring samples of those bacteria into healthy mice caused them to rapidly lose weight without surgery.

But the Harvard University researchers said they could not yet explain the mechanism behind their results.

There are differences in the bacteria in the stomachs and intestines of obese people compared with those who are of a normal weight.

And in people who have had gastric bypass operations to help them lose weight, the types of microbes that are found in the gut change.

 In the latest study, researchers compared three groups of obese mice on a high-calorie diet.

One group was given a gastric bypass
One was given a sham operation, and the high-calorie diet continued
One was given the same fake operation but then fed a low-calorie diet to promote weight loss
A week later the mice who had undergone the real obesity surgery had different bacteria in their guts, with an increase in types usually seen in lean individuals and a drop in types associated with obesity.

Three weeks after surgery they had lost about 30% of their bodyweight, the researchers reported in Science Translational Medicine.

There was little change in micro-organisms present in the mice who had had sham operations, even though the group on the low-calorie diet lost just as much weight as the mice who had had the bypass surgery.

Metabolism impact
Researchers then transferred samples from the guts of the three groups of mice into other germ-free mice.

Those who received bacteria from the bypass mice, lost a significant amount of weight in two weeks but the others saw no change.

It is not yet clear how the microbes influence weight loss, but one theory is that they have an impact on metabolism.

"We need to learn a good deal more about the mechanism by which a microbial population changed by gastric bypass exerts its effects," said study author Dr Lee Kaplan, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"The ability to achieve even some of these effects without surgery would give us an entirely new way to treat the critical problem of obesity, one that could help patients unable or unwilling to have surgery."

Co-author Peter Turnbaugh added: "It may not be that we will have a magic pill that will work for everyone who's slightly overweight.

"But if we can, at a minimum, provide some alternative to gastric bypass surgery that produces similar effects, it would be a major advance."

Prof David Haslam, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "We know the effects of bariatric surgery are not just mechanical and we don't know the full reasons why it works so well, especially in the resolution of diabetes.

"There is more to it than meets the eye."

Bacteria in the Intestines May Help Tip the Bathroom Scale, Studies Show

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ry Cooder "He'll Have To Go," Live 1977 -- 1001 Posts

Ry Cooder and the Chicken Skin Band play 'He'll Have To Go' (written by by Joe and Audrey Allison) live at Shepherd's Bush Television Theatre, London in 1977.

And this makes 1001 posts!

Open System (Systems Theory)

From Wiki:

Open System Model

An open system is a system which continuously interacts with its environment. The interaction can take the form of information, energy, or material transfers into or out of the system boundary, depending on the discipline which defines the concept. An open system should be contrasted with the concept of an isolated system which exchanges neither energy, matter, nor information with its environment.

The concept of an "open system" was formalized within a framework that enabled one to interrelate the theory of the organism, thermodynamics, and evolutionary theory. This concept was expanded upon with the advent of information theory and subsequently systems theory. Today the concept has its applications in the natural and social sciences.

In the natural sciences an open system is one whose border is permeable to both energy and mass. In physics a closed system, by contrast, is permeable to energy but not to matter.

Open systems have a number of consequences. A closed system contains limited energies. The definition of an open system assumes that there are supplies of energy that cannot be depleted; in practice, this energy is supplied from some source in the surrounding environment, which can be treated as infinite for the purposes of study. One type of open system is the so-called radiant energy system, which receives its energy from solar radiation – an energy source that can be regarded as inexhaustible for all practical purposes.

In the social sciences

In the social sciences an open system is a process that exchanges material, energy, people, capital and information with its environment.

French/Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos argued that seeing the "world system" as inherently open (though unified) would solve many of the problems in the social sciences, including that of praxis (the relation of knowledge to practice), so that various social scientific disciplines would work together rather than create a monopoly whereby the world appears only sociological, political, historical, or psychological. Axelos argues that theorizing a closed system contributes to making it closed, and is thus a conservative approach.

The Althusserian concept of overdetermination (drawing on Sigmund Freud) posits that there are always multiple causes in every event. David Harvey uses this to argue that when systems such as capitalism enter a phase of crisis, it could happen through one of a number of elements, such as gender roles, the relation to nature/the environment, or crises in accumulation. 

Looking at the crisis in accumulation, Harvey argues that phenomena such as foreign direct investment, privatization of state-owned resources, and accumulation by dispossession act as necessary outlets when capital has overaccumulated too much in private hands and cannot circulate effectively in the marketplace.

He cites the forcible displacement of Mexican and Indian peasants since the 1970s and the Asian and South-East Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, involving "hedge fund raising" of national currencies, as examples of this.

Ego the Living Planet. Photomontage by comics visionary, Jack Kirby.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and debuting in Thor #132, in the mid-1960s, Ego is a living planet. He’s almost four times the size of Pluto. Ego was birthed in the Black Galaxy, a section of space made entirely of organic matter. He’s encountered Thor and the Fantastic Four, and has nearly been consumed by Galactus several times.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

King Sunny Ade and His African Beats "Dance Medley"

King Sunny Ade and His African Beats perform live at the Triple Door in Seattle as part of the 25th anniversary of The Best Ambiance on KEXP. Recorded 6-29-09.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Joe Weider Dies at 93: Bodybuilding Pioneer and Publisher

Joe Weider popularized bodybuilding worldwide, creating a multimillion-dollar empire of magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Men's Fitness and Shape, and discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger.
by Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times

Joe Weider, shown in 1982, had a faith in the power of bodybuilding that he… (Los Angeles Times ) Joe Weider, a Los Angeles-based bodybuilding pioneer who created a multimillion-dollar fitness publishing empire and mentored a young Arnold Schwarzenegger from the time the future actor and California governor was a struggling unknown, died Saturday, a family spokeswoman said. He was 93.

Weider, who discovered a teenage Schwarzenegger at a bodybuilding contest in Europe and sponsored the young Austrian's move to the U.S., died of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, said Charlotte Parker, his longtime publicist.

A masterful marketer, entrepreneur and promoter with a rags-to-riches — and scrawny-to-brawny — story of his own, Weider had a faith in the power of bodybuilding that he compared to a religious fervor. He popularized the sport worldwide, riding the health and fitness wave with such publications as Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Men's Fitness and Shape, which was for women.

"When you push yourself to the limit in the gym, you begin to get feelings of vigor and power and self-esteem," he told a visitor in 1989, as quoted in the New York Times. "Body builders don't walk on their powerful legs — they float. They actually feel a little sorry for the average person, struggling to feel worthwhile, wasting his vitality, watching his body deteriorate."

On Saturday, Schwarzenegger mourned the loss of a man he called a father figure.

Weider "was the godfather of fitness who told all of us to 'Be Somebody with a Body," the former governor said in a statement. "He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions."

Joseph Weider was born Nov. 29, 1919, in a tough section of Montreal, where his parents struggled to make a living. His father worked as a pants presser in a factory, and at age 12, Weider left school to work, first as a grocery delivery boy and later as a short-order cook.

To keep from being threatened by neighborhood toughs, Weider made his first barbells out of scrap metal and began lifting weights. He became obsessed with muscle-building and at 17, over the objections of his mother, started his first magazine, a newsletter he printed on a mimeograph machine.

He soon convinced a major magazine distributor to put the publication, Your Physique, on newsstands and sales took off. In 1946, he and his younger brother Ben hosted the first Mr. Canada contest and formed the International Federation of Bodybuilders the same night.

In 1965, Weider created one of bodybuilding's premiere events, the Mr. Olympia competition, later adding other contests that drew weightlifters from around the world.

In 1972, recognizing that the sport needed a charismatic star, he paid for Schwarzenegger's move to California, setting him up in a Santa Monica apartment, paying him a weekly $100 stipend and splashing his victories across the covers of his magazines.

Weider, who taught Schwarzenegger about business, also helped him land his first movie role in the
1969 film "Hercules in New York," by telling producers the Austrian weightlifter was a German Shakespearean actor — "even though I barely spoke English," the former governor said in his statement.

Other young bodybuilders Weider mentored and promoted included Lou Ferrigno, then an unknown from New York, who went on to stardom as television's "The Incredible Hulk." In 1976, Ferrigno moved west at Weider's request to train for the Mr. Olympia contest, but said Weider encouraged him to audition for the television show.

Arnold with Joe Weider's wife, Betty Brosmer.

For the guys -- more Betty! Schwiiiinnngggggggggg!

Wes Montgomery "'Round Midnight"

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler

My latest one-dollar book:

Tasty cover design by Chip Kidd.

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler
Dr. David A. Kessler, the dynamic and controversial former FDA commissioner known for his crusade against the tobacco industry, is taking on another business that’s making Americans sick: the food industry. In The End of Overeating, Dr. Kessler shows us how our brain chemistry has been hijacked by the foods we most love to eat: those that contain stimulating combinations of fat, sugar, and salt.

Drawn from the latest brain science as well as interviews with top physicians and food industry insiders, The End of Overeating exposes the food industry’s aggressive marketing tactics and reveals shocking facts about how we lost control over food -- and what we can do to get it back. For the millions of people struggling with their weight as well as those of us who simply can’t seem to eat our favorite foods in moderation, Dr. Kessler’s cutting-edge investigation offers valuable insights and practical answers for America’s largest-ever public health crisis. There has never been a more thorough, compelling, or in-depth analysis of why we eat the way we do. 
"Sweetener, sweetener, fat, salt, sweeteners. The fact is the American diet is sweetest diet in the world and it is the sweetness in the diet that drives wanting…" -- Former FDA commissioner, David Kessler describing the ingredients in McDonald’s Caramel Dip served with apple sticks in their “healthier” Happy Meals.
David Kessler: The End of Overeating on YouTube:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers 1961 "Dat Dere"

Trumpeter Lee Morgan (1938-72).

Wayne Shorter on tenor sax: Lee Morgan, trumpet; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass; and the incomparable Art Blakey leading, on drums. Another great recording for Blue Note Records.

GE's Jack Welch Subject Of Critical 'Comic Book Biography'



by Claire Gordon

Jack Welch comic bookIt's no coincidence that some of our most iconic superheroes -- Batman, Iron Man -- are also corporate chief executives. For much of the last century, CEOs seemed to represent all that was good and great about this country. They were creators of jobs, engines of innovation, spreaders of prosperity. The fulfillment of the American dream.

So it's perfectly fitting that Jack Welch, legendary ex-CEO of General Electric, should get the comic book treatment. Written by Marc Shapiro and drawn by David Cabrera, Political Power: Jack Welch tells the true tale of Welch's career, but reads like a story from the Marvel canon.

Is The Age Of CEO-Worship Over?

It isn't an uncritical tribute, however. The artists point out that Welch could be brutal in pursuit of profits, shuttering factories, firing employees, eliminating research, and abandoning the manufacturing core that had made the company what it was. The comic book introduces Welch as "Neutron Jack," a nickname that the media gave him in the early 1980s (and which he despised), in reference to the neutron bomb, for his purported ability to lay off droves of employees without scratching the building. And his superpower is to "make it rain money," they write at the end, with an image of Welch in a shower of bills.

Welch is a relic of the CEO's golden age. He retired in 2001, before the bubble fully burst, and left GE as the prize jewel of corporate America -- the most valuable company in the world, with stock worth 4,000 percent more than when he started there. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Welch "Manager of the Century." In 2004, when the Financial Times asked chief executives which figures from history they'd love have on their boards, Welch beat out Winston Churchill, Bill Gates and Jesus for the No. 1 spot.
He's the kind of guy who could write a biography, co-authored with his third wife, called simply Winning.

More: UBS CEO Paid $9 Million While Laying Off 10,000

But comic books tend to reflect their times, and Shapiro and Cabrera depict a more complicated portrait of Welch in their book. Americans have become more distrusting of CEOs. The New York Times noted the trend back in 2002, as the heady '90s economic boom gave way to a recession, and C-suite corruption blighted companies like RiteAid, Tyco International, and Enron. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 27 percent of Americans thought business executives had low or very low standards of honesty and ethics. That's down from its 2009 peak of 38 percent, soon after the financial crisis hit, but still higher than it ever was before 2002 (Gallup began asking this question in 1976).

More: McDonald's Server Would Have To Work 550 Years To Earn CEO's Pay
In fact, Welch's reputation has undergone a battering in recent years. The NBC sitcom "30 Rock" parodied Welch's old-school brand of corporate commandeering in the form of GE executive Jack Donaghy. (Welch was the one who bought NBC, and moved GE's headquarters to 30 Rockefeller Plaza.) Welch even made a cameo on the show a few years ago, in which he informed Donaghy that the CEO of GE had died, and offered to get him "some weakness tissues" if he needed "to pass some eye water."

Welch rose to power in an era hungry for larger-than-life executives. And now many doubt his virtue: The way he takes credit for GE's accomplishments, his pension worth a purported $9 million a year, the sheer volume of people whom he laid off. It didn't help that he's made a couple of widely bashed comments, such as his characterization of corporate women's groups as "victims units," and his accusation that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was somehow cooking the unemployment numbers at President Obama's behest.
Today, Americans are palpably aware of the human cost of a Welch-style quest for profits. And the most popular CEO in the country isn't a Irish Catholic tough-talking Republican, but Mark Zuckerberg, a geeky 28-year-old whose indifference to money, Time noted, is "almost pathological."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In the News: One in 50 School-Aged Children in U.S. Has Autism

Significant increase in the prevalence of the condition over the past five years, researchers say.
by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) — The number of children in the United States with autism spectrum disorder has jumped dramatically since 2007, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

As of 2012, one in 50 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 has some form of autism, compared with one in 88 only five years earlier, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This estimate was a bit surprising," said report author Stephen Blumberg, a senior scientist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "There may be more children with autism spectrum disorder than previously thought."

The average school bus holds about 50 children, so there is typically one child with autism spectrum disorder on every full school bus in America, Blumberg noted.
Michael Rosanoff, associate director for Public Health Research and Scientific Review at Autism Speaks, said that "this study added to the evidence suggesting that we are underestimating the prevalence of autism in the United States."

This report, however, underestimated the real prevalence of autism, Rosanoff said. "It's probably much higher," he said.

The main reason for the increase in the prevalence of autism appears to be better diagnoses, especially in older children, Blumberg said.

In addition, boys were more than four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, which has been the historical trend, Blumberg said.

"For the most part, the increase in the prevalence is largely due to an increase in the prevalence in reported autism spectrum disorder for boys," he said.

None of the other factors, such as survey bias, could explain the increase, he added. Most of the children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were diagnosed since the last survey in 2008, Blumberg noted.

"By ruling out other explanations and noting the increase in recent diagnoses, that suggests to us that improved ascertainment — recognizing children who were previously unrecognized as having autism spectrum disorder — is the reason," he said.

This may be the reason most of those newly diagnosed children tend to have milder forms of autism, Blumberg said.

"It would certainly make sense that those with unrecognized autism spectrum disorder may have symptoms that are milder than children who have been diagnosed earlier," he said.

Rosanoff agreed that more children with milder autism are being diagnosed.

"What we are seeing is that children who have not been diagnosed in the past are now being diagnosed," he said. "That is likely due to doctors and other health care providers being better at recognizing the more milder symptoms of autism and being able to diagnose those."

These children are most likely having trouble with social skills, which limits their ability to interact with others in the classroom and in social situations, Rosanoff said.

Diagnosing these children is important, Rosanoff said, because even though they may be doing well in the classroom they could benefit from help with their autism.

"With appropriate diagnosis and access to services, a child with autism can improve in the way they function and how they are able to be successful in life," he said.

To reach their conclusions, researchers gathered data from the National Survey of Children's Health, which is a national telephone survey of nearly 96,000 American households. As part of the survey, parents are asked whether they have a child diagnosed with autism.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Charlie Parker Records The Complete Collection

Speaking of spoiled rotten by HPB, I used a 50% off (one item) coupon last Sunday to buy this boxed set -- $30 for 30 CDs  -- $1 a CD.

From Exhaustive 30 CD collection from the jazz legend's short-lived label. Contains 44 original albums (421 tracks) plus booklet.

Every record-collector has run across an album with the little sax-playing bird in its label-logo, right next to the brand name Charlie Parker Records or CP Parker Records. Turning the sleeve over, especially if it was one of the non-Parker releases, and seeing a '60s release date under the header Stereo-pact was as exciting an experience as it was confusing.

Was the claim Bird Lives meant more literally than previously thought? What do the Rays Nance and Barretto have to do with Charlie Parker? Who is the Satan In High Heels? When did Barney Kessel and Harold Land tame El Tigre? And what is Stereo-pact, after all? Rumors are far and wide, speculation and misinformation abounds, while fans and experts discuss the releases of this short-lived label from the '60s at record fairs and in internet forums. But even though a discography can be found online, never before has anyone made an attempt to present the complete output of this legendary label in one set.

eBidiot: Jazz Graphics David Stone Martin by Manek Daver

I first scame across the Japanese-published art book on David Stone Martin in the 1990s at Borders.

The list price was $60. Having been spoiled rotten by Half Price Books and Lucky Dog Books (aka Paperbacks Plus), I was sure it would turn up for a lot less -- if I would just have the patience to wait. It never did. Every time I looked it up online, the prices were listed at $500 and up. Last week I nabbed it with a winning, unchallenged opening bid of $125 -- closure at last!

From a current listing where the one UK copy is listed at $855 USD:

Title: Jazz Graphics.
Publisher: Tokyo: Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Ltd., 1991
Publication Date: 1991
Edition: First Edition
Quarto. Original card wraps. with the dust jacket. Very good. Profusely illustrated in color. Text in English and Japanese. First and only edition. Beautifully produced in limited numbers, this is the closest thing to a catalogue raisonné of the work of this prolific and highly influential artist-illustrator, Norman Granz's designer of choice for Jazz At The Philharmonic, and for the Clef, Norgran and Verve record labels.

Identifying Your Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni Jewelry, Plus Maker

I've gotten addicted to Native American jewelry and so I now present (from The Perry Null Trading Company blog):

Identifying Your Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni Jewelry, Plus Maker

Step One

Turn the piece of jewelry over and look for a hallmark or other markings. Many times we will recognize the hallmark. Here are  resources that we refer to frequently.


Excellent for Hopi hallmarks


A great overall source for hallmarks -- has some mistakes but definitely a must-have.


This book really works well if you have the artist's name and want to see images of style of work.

Step Two

General class the style. Big silver and large stones, good chance it is Navajo. Small stones, cluster, or inlay and you have a reason to believe the work is Zuni. The piece is all silver, overlay, and the bottom oxidized part has a very fine texture and you just might have a piece of Hopi work. Of course, you have Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi artists that don’t make the traditional style of pieces their tribe is known for, but the number is definitely a minority.


Navajo artists make inlay jewelry, too. However, it usually looks a little different, like on heavier silver or a rough cobble stone style of inlay. The center piece is Zuni, the other two are Navajo-made.


Zuni and Navajo cluster work. The heavier silver is a sign that it is Navajo made. However the two cluster pieces on the left represent a Navajo and Zuni artist.


Navajo on the left, Zuni on the right. A very subtle clue is the stone work, notice the Zuni work matches color and size a little better. Also, the Navajo artist just can't help but add more silver to the work, heavy around the stones.


Notice the big difference in silver, a Navajo piece will almost always be heavier silver construction.


Hopi and Navajo all-silver pieces. The buckle is Navajo-made, notice the design, the End of the Trail, just don't see that often, if ever ,depicted in Hopi silver. Plus, notice the shine, the Navajo piece has a satin finish, the two Hopi an nice high shine.


Another Navajo-made or not Hopi-made clue, the etched oxidized background is just not as fine as you find on Hopi work.


Zuni and Navajo turquoise cluster pins. Very similar, but do show slight differences. The Zuni pride themselves on stone work and they do not like to show lots of matrix, the Navajo piece shows lots of matrix. Also, remember the silver, the Zuni piece (on the left) has that nice open design, the Navajo piece has the heavier silver look.


Zuni left, Navajo right. The far right pendant is a dead giveaway Navajo made piece, big and chunky.


Cluster rings can be very difficult, because you just can't get a bunch of stones or silver into the piece. The two on the left are Zuni, the stones show a little less matrix. The middle right ring is the easiest to identify because the stones are just a style you find in Navajo, usually purchased already cabbed where the other pieces have been shaped by the artist.


The freeform-shaped stone on the left is usually a Navajo-made giveaway. Plus, coral and turquoise is found made by both Navajo and Zuni artists, but definitely favored to the Navajo.


Zuni left, Navajo right. The Navajo piece is easy to identify, big, heavy, and a nice freeform-shaped stone.


The Zuni piece has a cast shank with a silver leaf design on the sides, plus the stone is cut by the artist, not something you find in local supply stores, but still difficult to determine, luckily this one is hallmarked by Robert and Bernice Leekya. Typical Navajo style split ring shank.

Step Three

Hallmarks, just like the style of jewelry the markings on the backside can help to identify. Generally, Zuni and Navajo artists will use initials for their artist mark, exp. Roger Skeets will use an R and S stamp on the back of his work. Hopi artists will usually use a symbol, something like a snowflake or sun for example.


Hopi hallmark -- a symbol


Navajo and Zuni hallmarks -- initials

Sourced from:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mangograms: Sundry Musings from America’s Greatest Comic Book Art Savant, Don Mangus

I've started a whole new blog to focus on my "narrow-focus" writing about comic book art. In the humble tradition of Stan "The Man" Lee and Joe Simon, I've titled it:

Mangograms: Sundry Musings from America’s Greatest Comic Book Art Savant, Don Mangus

If at all interested, kindly head over to:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Out the Kleptocracy: CR Intrinsic Investors Fund pays $600M to Settle Insider Trading Charges

Hedge fund CR Intrinsic Investors will pay more than $600 million in what federal regulators are calling the largest insider trading settlement ever.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged the firm with insider trading in 2012, alleging that one of its portfolio managers illegally obtained confidential details about an Alzheimer's drug trial from a doctor before the final results went public and made trades from that information.

The SEC said Friday that the fund agreed to settle the charges and the parties neither admit nor deny the charges.

"The historic monetary sanctions against CR Intrinsic and its affiliates are a sharp warning that the SEC will hold hedge fund advisory firms and their funds accountable when employees break the law to benefit the firm," George S. Canellos, acting director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.

The SEC said in its complaint that Sidney Gillman, a doctor who moonlighted as a medical consultant, tipped CR Intrinsic portfolio manager Mathew Martoma with safety data and eventually negative results in the trial of the drug made by drug firms Elan Corp. and Wyeth two weeks before they were made public in 2008. Martoma and CR Intrinsic then caused several hedge funds to sell more than $960 million in Elan and Wyeth securities in a little more than a week.

And yet, it's somehow, it's never prosecuted as a crime...

This settlement is a substantial step toward resolving all outstanding regulatory matters and allows the firm to move forward with confidence," the company. "We are committed to continuing to maintain a first-rate compliance effort woven into the fabric of the firm."

Danielle Hark Blog: Five Ways Acting Like a Kid Can Improve Your Mental Health

"My 'inner child 'is only 1/8 of an inch from my outer skin" -- super-sophisticate cartoonist Don Mangus

Four Color #381 Marge's Tubby by John Stanley.

Five Ways Acting Like a Kid Can Improve Your Mental Health by Danielle Hark

Whether you suffer from depression or are just having a case of the winter blues, there are things you can do right now to help brighten your day. It's easier than you might think. Just pay attention to those little lessons you teach your kids.

1. Do something physical. Get out of your mind and into your body. Do yoga. Ride a bike. Or just stretch and take a walk. Anything to get your body moving. If you really want some fun, grab a hula hoop, dance around your living room, or play a game of hopscotch.

2. Get creative. You don't have to be a trained artist to make art. Do something creative, whether it is coloring on a napkin at a restaurant or taking a photo with your phone. The finished product doesn't matter -- it's about the act of being creative and looking at the world around you for little details and capturing them.

3. Self-soothe. Use your five senses. Taste. Smell. See. Hear. Touch. Taste a bite or two of something yummy. Smell for pleasant smells around you -- flowers, perfumes, lotions. Listen to calming sounds or music you like. Look for tranquil or beautiful sites to focus on -- perhaps a tree outside your window or a painting of an ocean. Keep a stone or something textured or comforting in your pocket to touch and ground you. Pet your pet. You can also use imagery, meditation or prayer. Guided visualization/meditation techniques or prayer can be incredibly soothing, or just imagine yourself on your favorite vacation. Close your eyes and feel the sun on your face and the sand under your toes.

4. Take care of your body. Eat well. Drink water. Keep a regular bed time. Take care of any physical problems. These are things that may seem small but can definitely affect your mood.

5. Have fun and be silly. Let your inner child (or real child) be your guide. Blow bubbles, play games, make a snow angel, or try to get a slinky down more than three steps. Not only is it fun to act like a kid, but it keeps you in the present moment, instead of ruminating on the past or future. So go wild. The possibilities are endless.

"Neat Trick" by Gil Elvgren.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Enrique Nieto: Just Married #108

From Lambiek: Argentinian cartoonist Enrique Nieto was affiliated to the Latin-American Union Studios between 1974 and 1978. He drew stories for many of Charlton's 1970s horror titles, such as Beyond the Grave, Creepy Things, Fightin' Marines, Ghost Manor, Ghostly Haunts, Ghostly Tales, Haunted, Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves, Monster Hunters and Scary Tales. He also drew for romance and war titles. He used several pen names, such as Joe Nieto or Fred Nieto.

The Charlton Action Heroes

According to comics lore, in 1983, for about $30,000 plus royalties, DC Executive Vice President Paul Levitz acquired the Charlton Action Hero titles as a gift for Dick Giordano, who by then had returned to DC. Then, after 40 years of steady but mostly mediocre production, Charlton Publishing closed their comic book publishing operation in 1985. The following year, the Charlton Action Heroes served as the template for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s critically acclaimed Watchmen series.

 In epitaph to the missed opportunities of the Charlton era, former editor-in-chief Dick Giordano said, “If they had wanted to go head-to-head with DC Comics, quality of the artwork, quality of the stories, quality of the printing and distribution, they probably could’ve done it at two-thirds the cost that DC was paying. And if they had done that, they really could have turned the comic book publishing business on its ear. But they chose to be junk dealers, they really did