Feed on


Yes, I did watch the movie this weekend and as my friend pointed out, it was strangely gratifying to watch Gwyneth Paltrow die. But it did make me think about the avian flu, which just two years ago, completed most of the necessary mutation stages just short of a full-blown pandemic. Looks like we might have crossed into the final stage, if these two Chinese victims really had nothing to do with birds:

BEIJING — A man died in southern China on Sunday from the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Health Ministry reported. It was China’s second such death in less than a month.

The latest victim, an unidentified 39-year-old, fell ill on Jan. 6 and was admitted to a hospital in Guizhou Province the same day, the Health Ministry said in a statement reported by Xinhua, the official news agency.

A 39-year-old bus driver in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong Province near Hong Kong, died of the disease on Dec. 31.

Both deaths were notable because neither victim reported any contact with birds in the month preceding his illness. The virus is known to spread through contact with infected birds, eggs or bird feces, but experts said a pandemic could occur were it to mutate into a form that was more easily spread.

Waiting can be bad for your health

My bathtub when I look at it without my glasses. Photo by TONY WOOD

With apologies to Jagger/Richards, today’s deep thought: It’s OK to wait for something you want, but not for something you need — health care, for example. Sometimes there are no jobs, and the money you were counting simply doesn’t come through, and neither does decent health insurance.

Then you have two choices: Avoid doctors as part of your effort to save money, or spend your savings on health care and hope that novel of yours becomes a hit before you go broke. More here.


Yes, they seem to work, but all the more reason why we can’t let anyone actually use them!

Rave-goers and visitors to Amsterdam before December 2008 may be intimately familiar with magic mushrooms, but there’s little scientific knowledge on what happens to the brain while tripping.

Now it appears that more research is warranted. A growing number of studies suggested that perhaps the mushrooms’ key ingredient could work magic for certain mental disorders.

New research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds light on why one of the mushrooms’ hallucinogenic chemical compounds, psilocybin, may hold promise for the treatment of depression. Scientists explored the effect of psilocybin on the brain, documenting the neural basis behind the altered state of consciousness that people have reported after using magic mushrooms.

“We have found that these drugs turn off the parts of the brain that integrate sensations – seeing, hearing, feeling – with thinking,” said David Nutt, co-author of the study and researcher at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

[…] Psilocybin is illegal in the United States and considered a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD. Schedule 1 drugs “have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose in the United States,” according to the Department of Justice.

But in the early stages of research on psilocybin, there’s been a bunch of good news for its medicinal potential: psilocybin has shown to be helpful for terminally ill cancer patients dealing with anxiety, and preliminary studies on depression are also promising.

Nutt’s study is also preliminary and small, with only 30 participants. His group used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at how the brain responds to psilocybin, from normal waking consciousness to a psychedelic state.

The study found that the more psilocybin shuts off the brain, the greater the feeling of being in an altered state of consciousness, he said. It’s not the same as dreaming, because you’re fully conscious and aware, he said.
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The diagnosis

I’m now convinced that this pain I’m having is trapped carbon dioxide that was used to separate my organs for surgery. Most people get the pain in their neck or shoulder (which is why I had trouble locating similar stories), but with some people, it gets trapped in area of the rib cage.

The best way to move it out of your system is walking. That makes sense, because it’s always a lot worse after I sleep. So I’ll start walking today.


Rumor or fact?

Israeli officials told visiting US Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey that it would give President Barack Obama no more than 12 hours notice if and when it attacks Iran, The London Times reported Sunday.

The Netanyahu government also will not coordinate with the United States an attack on the Islamic Republic, according to the report, the latest in a number of supposed scenarios concerning cooperation or lack of it between Jerusalem and Washington.

It is left to speculation whether the rumors are based on facts or are leaked by officials to mask the possibility of secret military coordination.

The London Times said its sources explained that that Israel fears that President Obama would try to torpedo an Israel attack if more notice were given because he is concerned that Iran will respond by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, sparking a rise in the price of oil that could cripple Western economies. If the attack were to occur in the next 10 months, it would put President Obama in a tight spot on the eve of his bid for re-election.

‘Change we can believe in’

Ironic, don’t you think?

PA unemployment benefits

Looks like they’ll be extended.

Mortgage settlement scheme

You’ll never guess where the proposed settlement money would come from. If you’re guessing working people, you’re right!

Get money, turn gay

Songify the News does the New Hampshire debate:

I’d rather go blind

Etta James:

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