Comments From Cornwall
by John de Rivaz
This file contains the text of a monthly column that appeared in The Immortalist, a magazine published by The Immortalist Society <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wherever possible source information has been given, and no additional information is usually available if you write in.
In the eighteenth century, technology was beginning to change the human condition for the better. People such as Benjamin Franklin in America and John Hunter in England were predicting that scientific progress would bring the means to extend human lifespan beyond 1,000 years. Humane Societies were set up in Europe and the United States after 1767 aimed at reviving "the dead" - victims of drowning or mining accidents. A lot of people treated them with scorn and ridicule, but many a conscientious doctor joined the cause. Although there was persecution by some religious people, others joined in, such as the Philadelphia Quakers and the Methodist John Wesley. Today we have the Red Cross, artificial respiration, cardiac massage, blood banks and other methods to revive people who would have been given up for dead in the late 1700s.
Wesley, of course, made a big impact on Cornwall, and this month's Cornish Scene shows Gwennap Pit, where he preached to between 30 and 3,000 people on 17 separate occasions between 1743 and 1770.
Bristol Myers Aims at Self-medication
In his third quarter report to stockholders, Richard L. Gelb, chairman of the board of Bristol Myers Squibb, stated that one of the factors offering the company new opportunities is trends towards self medication.
Bristol Myers Squibb was formed a year ago by the merger of the two pharmaceutical giants, Bristol Myers and Squibb. The substantial professional costs of the merger diluted the combined shares by about 14%, but the company is confident that the loss will be made up by the end of next year. After that the result of the merger will be a company stronger than the two partners were as separately trading companies. Mr Gelb said that the companies did not merge to save money, but nevertheless substantial savings have been made and they can now be directed towards increasing research expenditure, not far short of a billion dollars in 1990.
A result of previous research was FDA approval in October for the Bristol Myers Squibb product Pravastatin, which reduces LDL cholesterol by inhibiting synthesis in the liver.
Of course regular readers of life extension material will know that some people consider that high levels of cholesterol are a symptom not a cause, and that their reduction may not be that much of a good thing. Nevertheless this debate will probably go on for a long time, and it may turn out, of course, that inhibition of cholesterol production by the liver does benefit heart patients.
Another product they have launched in the US is Ricelyte, a fruit flavoured ready to use oral rice-based electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration in cases of diarrhoea. The product facilitates the absorbtion of salts and water in the intestine and reducing stool output. Although marketed for children, whose lives are more threatened by diarrhoea owing to their smaller body mass, it would seem that there is no reason why adults shouldn"t use it as well as an aid to speedier recovery.
Radio Play Gives New Angle On Discorporation and Cryonics
A play was broadcast by the BBC on Radio Four on 10 January 1990 called The Monkey's Revenge. It centred on a research laboratory and the tone of the play, one of a series of horror plays, was pro-death. It was based on discorporation, a proposed surgical technique whereby a dying patient is given a few more weeks of life by fitting his head to a life support apparatus and discarding his body. It was suggested that a body riddled with cancer could be frozen until a cure is found, whilst the head is kept alive on the machine. Of course such a concept is purposeless. Copies of the play have been sent to Alcor and the holder of the discorporation patent, which was mentioned.
Personally I have held the view that the concept of discorporation is a logical extension of existing surgery - it causes the patient a great deal of suffering only to achieve a short addition to life, and that at low quality. Cryonic suspension, on the other hand, offers oblivion instead of suffering, and the chance of a genuine and painless cure not only of the affliction causing death but also ageing itself, before revival is effected. With existing medicine, if an operation fails the patient can still experience a great deal of suffering before he finally dies. If cryonics fails, the patient knows nothing.
The scientific reasoning behind this is clear. Present surgery is based upon gross mechanics, ie cutting and stitching. Such mechanics is inappropriate to the human body, which is a machine based on atoms and molecules as working parts. As people are used to things like cars which have large parts made of "heaps of atoms" they have introduced the concept of a person being made of large parts, eg heart, liver, kidneys etc., which as a working hypothesis suffices to an extent. But nanotechnology offers a better match to the reality of how the human machine works, and when repairs can be performed at an atomic level medicine will be able to heal directly, without first making the patient suffer a great deal more on the route to recovery.
The concept of someone shaking a fine powder onto a frozen cryonics patient and then sitting back and waiting for him to awaken young and fit can be argued logically from the basic concepts of nanotechnology - it need not be fantasy fiction. The powder will contain a mass of self replicating nano machines, designed to start work at cryogenic temperatures.
Quantum Mechanics and Evolution
Writing in New Scientist of 12 January, Robert Lanza asked whether, as a result of quantum mechanics, the universe really existed when there were no minds to observe it. He likened the idea to that of a spider in a web. It is highly aware of anything to do with that web, whether it if flies that land on it, or raindrops or leaves. However it is totally unaware of anything else.
By the aid of science, humans have been able to extend their web of information gathering back in time, as far as the big bang itself. But Mr Lanza asks whether such extrapolations are in violation of quantum mechanics, and whether also any extrapolations outside the era of human life is valid. From this he starts to query evolution itself, and finished by asking how evolution is possible at all.
My comment is that one perhaps shouldn't take quantum mechanics too seriously. But then if it is the ruling force of the universe, it does seem to have a lot in common with ESP and many other alien pseudo sciences. Can one therefore affect the course of one"s life by pure power of thought or longing? If you stare at the moon hard enough can you make it turn? There are certainly people who think that they can "will" a matchstick floating in water to start spinning. I'd need to see that before I"d believe it!
Choice of Facility Site
I welcome the letter from Mr Arnold Johnson, which appeared in American Cryonics volume 7 no 2, dated October. It called for cryonics storage facilities to be constructed at a cheap site well away from areas of population concentration and high costs. It also called for ACS to offer an in-house perfusion service for less than $10,000.
The letter detailed how the nature of cryonic storage (requiring no electricity etc) made remote storage a practical proposition.
This topic has been debated in my own newsletter Longevity Report, although the idea of storage in high cost locations was warmly supported by Mike Darwin (Alcor) and Garret Smyth (Alcor UK). If Mr Johnson reads this and would like copies of the relevant articles, then I would be pleased to send them.
I still feel that low cost options should be offered, and, of course, the Cryonics Institute is the best at present available.
Nevertheless I believe that it is the duty of all officers of cryonics societies to keep their costs down. Every single expense is too high, and should be looked at from the viewpoint "could we have done this cheaper?"
Writing in Cryonics 12(1) Dr Steven B. Harris bemoans the fact that if physicians give someone what tantamount to medical advice in a social setting it would be considered inappropriate to send a bill for that advice. He goes on to say that pure advice given in an office setting is often expected to be free. He suggests that this "information socialism" discourages people from thinking about or discussing anything useful that cannot be tied to an invoice! As an example, he cites the usefulness of beta carotene in preventing heart attacks, and the lack of professional research on the effects of vitamins.
Maybe it is the cultural barrier of the Atlantic, but I should have thought that any information that is likely to help us in the war against death is worth propagating! The Linus Pauling Institute, for example, is an example of professional research into vitamins.
This month's Cornish Scene of the Church and War Memorial at Treslothan was not typically Cornish. But it is worthwhile publishing at this the time of the Gulf War to query how religious people always seem to associate their God as being anti-war, or at any rate on their side.
The fact remains that the most holy places of Earth - the Middle East - have been the scene of more wars and fighting than all the rest of the planet.
Here is some wild speculation, always assuming that there is a God in the first place of course!
...And the Devil turns out to be God
Page 20 of January's The Immortalist detailing the risks of cryonics suggests that cryonauts could be thawed to find it's Judgement Day and the devil turns out to be god. A frivolous joke maybe, but surely you get to Judgement Day by either route, cryonics or rotting/burning?
More seriously, theologians believe that God created everything. Then this must mean that if here is a devil then God created him too, and must have been aware of the results of such action (he is also omniscient). Therefore there is both good AND evil in God.
They also tell us that God made man in his own image.
Now man does an awful lot of that sort of thing too. He hasn't quite got the technology of god yet, but writing novels is a thought experiment that is very close. The author of a novel is god to the universe it portrays. To make the novel work some authors may well let their brain "multitask" to give the characters some autonomy over a basic situation he has imposed.
Much of humanity spends a large portion of its spare time in reading such novels, or watching visual recreations of them in plays, films or television.
Plays have been performed for all of recorded history.
There is one thing in common with a very large part of this entertainment. It is based on conflict and suffering. Indeed, not content with simulated suffering, the ancient Romans held gladiatorial contests where it was real, and even today some sports have the objective of causing suffering in order to win.
The latest in entertainment, computer games, has this same emphasis on death and destruction. As yet, the images produced by computers lack the detail and realism of filmed human actors, but probably by the end of the decade the distinction will have gone. In the meantime, computer controlled CD video players fill the gap.
Computer games already exist where there is a world within the computer and the owner can play god by directing action within that world.
Remember where this train of thought started - God made man in his own image. Now look at the area of Earth where God's influence is most felt - the Middle East. Note that it has been the place where more wars have been fought over than any other part of the planet.
Could this universe and everyone and everything in it simply be an entertainment machine for some alien culture?
Schrödinger's Cat vs Ettinger's Swan
The Non-Swan Problem in The Immortalist of January 1981 suggested in a footnote that time travel into your own past is logically impossible. Science fiction writers have known for some time that this impossibility can be got around by postulating that there is more than one dimension of time, and that all possibilities exist. The individual consciousness takes one route through time selecting available possibilities as life progresses. If it were possible to make a machine that travels in time, only the existing life-track is inviolable.
One could travel back in time and do what he likes, but his memory of his own past is unaltered.
The paradox suggested by the swan and town square examples can be resolved by the "many worlds" hypothesis.
The extraordinary thing is, that presumably unbeknown to the science fiction writers and those who desire time machines, modern physics produces a "many worlds" hypothesis in order to make quantum mechanics work!
Quantum mechanics is based upon the behaviour of the smallest particles known, smaller even than atoms. It has been discovered that you cannot measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time. If you measure one the act of measurement alters the other. This creates the famous uncertainty principle. This can only be resolved, says quantum mechanics, by introducing a hypothesis that events do not have reality unless observed.
Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment involving a sealed chamber containing a cat, a geiger counter, and an ampoule of poison gas. Depending on whether there was a click at a specified instant, the ampoule would be broken and the cat exterminated. Quantum mechanics predicts that until the box is observed, the cat both lives and is dead. Thus the act of a conscious mind observing the box sets the observer in one or other of two possible universes, cat-alive and cat-dead.
Proponents of quantum mechanics, when told that this defies all common sense, point out that the theory is the only one that is capable of predicting the behaviour of solid state electronic devices upon which modern society so heavily depends. It is the only theory that explains so many of the results of modern physics experiments and observations.
So in Schrödinger's experiment, there is nothing illogical in setting up the experiment, observing the dead cat, and then going back in a time machine and re- observing it and repeating until a universe with a live cat is found. (Or the other way round if you don't like cats!)
Life Extension International raided by FDA
Following the article in Omni Longevity on how to import prescription only medicines from Europe into the USA, the FDA staged another Gestapo style raid on the premises of the Life Extension International in Arizona. They believed that they were responsible for the services described by Carol Kahn in the article, despite denials by Life Extension staff.
Life Extension International have no connection with the services mentioned in the article, and it is my understanding at the time of writing that they will be taking private lawsuits against the individual FDA officers concerned.
TV Programme Tries to Impose Crackdown on UK Pharmaceutical Imports
The BBC television programme Watchdog on 21 January broadcast a programme about a company based in Jersey in the Channel Islands that sells Retin-A cream to be mail to the mainland UK. Although Retin-A is a prescription only medicine (POM), section 13 of the Medicines Act 1968 allows British citizens the freedom to import POMs for their own personal use of for the use of members of their household.
The company, operating from offices on the mainland, took orders that were despatched from Jersey, therefore was perfectly legal. However after being tipped off by the programme, which made blatantly dishonest statements like "Retin- A is as lethal as cyanide", the British authorities managed to get the Jersey authorities to stop the Jersey company from obtaining further supplies.
In addition, they plan to lobby Parliament to get Section 13 repealed, thus depriving British citizens of the freedom to import POMs for their own use.
In cases where a new cure for a fatal disease has been found abroad but has not been approved for use in the UK, previously the drug could be obtained by mail and the cure effected. Under the proposed new laws this will not be possible. A doctor is not allowed to prescribe a drug that it is not available in the UK. Therefore if this amendment to the law is passed, deaths will result. Unfortunately this argument will carry little weight with the legislators, as they will only be interested in controlling professional interests.
Another argument that will carry even less weight is the one that aging is a disease and everyone suffering from disease should have access to treatment. No doctor would be willing to prescribe two Deprenyl tablets a week to reduce the effects of aging, for example. In fact UK doctors are so overworked that they are unlikely to be willing even to discuss anti- aging therapies, let alone write out prescriptions for them.
After all, if there is a choice between treating a prematurely sick person and one sick through old age, which would the government expect them to treat? And then the "perfectly healthy" young man turns up for his Deprenyl prescription!
Life Without Pain Life Without Death
In an article in New Scientist 2 February 1991 on female genital mutilation (child abuse rituals performed widely in Africa, Middle East etc) it was discussed how the World Health Organisation (WHO) could stamp out the practise.
Purely making it illegal could merely push it underground, as many parents committing the offence believed that it was in the child's best interest, despite common sense and medical evidence to the contrary. Many think that the personal pain and danger is preferable to being an outcast. Education was considered the best course.
The article said that most women in these regions think that pain is a part of life. Their health is unimportant because they have to work and die taking care of others. The World Health Organisation have to convince them that life without pain and disease is possible.
I see a parallel here with cryonics. People think that burning or burying the deceased is an act of love, and that annihilation is also a part of life. They have to be educated that alternatives are not only possible but preferable.
The other interesting footnote is that the people committing what we see as acts of extreme and savage barbarity do so in the belief that they are doing something good. Are there other things that all humans do to their children that will in the future be seen with equal horror? Abuse needn't purely be physical. The whole human species could be suffering from mental illnesses passed faithfully from generation to generation.
No new news on melatonin supplies, but I have seen a couple of scientific articles on the subject of sleep improvement and taking melatonin. It is clear that the results may not be quite so dramatic as first supposed, but nevertheless this supplementation still could well be worth a try for many individuals. Melatonin does increase REM sleep, but after wakening healthy volunteers reported feeling no increase in the quality of their sleep. Nevertheless, many people with sleep problems have reduced melatonin levels, and therefore supplementation may help them. [James et al, The effect of Melatonin on Normal Sleep. Neuropsychopharmacology 1987, 1,1 page 41]
Certainly it won't work for everyone, but then this is true of many therapies. I have not seen the articles detailing life extension results of melatonin supplementation, but I have always maintained that sleep control may be the most marked reason why people will take it. Life extension may well be a "side effect" to this!
Overcoming side effects of cryonic suspension
The problem of cracking of frozen material is one that is of serious concern to cryonicists, and in the latest issue of Periastron, Dr Thomas Donaldson's science newsletter, he discusses a possible means of repairing cracked neurons. Also covered is the relationship between attention and identity, a process that underlies memory, a new technique for studying cell membrane receptors, and a protein that is critical in cell development. For nanotechnologists, there are reports on diamond, making molecules to design, and a conference report.
Periastron PO Box 2365, Sunnyvale, California 94087. Subscriptions cost $2.50 per issue. If you pay for many issues in advance, you avoid any possible price rises. If the newsletter does not continue for any reason, unused subscriptions will be refunded with interest!
More Offshore Medical Therapies
Recent issues of this newsletter detailing anti-aging and rejuventaion therapies not available in the United States but are available in Europe included a number of interesting articles.
Baldness is a condition that some men find psychologically hard to bear, and therefore cures are important to mental well being and therefore general health. Issue 6 described a new hair restoratrive lotion that is sold as a hair cosmetic using no drug products to get around official restrictions.
The article describes how this product has been tested in double blind trials and achieved a 76% success rate in restoring hair growth. As with all OMT articles, full scientific refernces were given.
Another article discussed Deaner, a product well known to life extensionists, and a further article gave details of an anti-biotic. An updated suppliers list finished the issue.
Issue 7 covered Vinpocetine, the hydergine or ergoloid mesylates improved replacement, and Biostim, both of whoich articles were reprinted in Longevity Report. Also covered was the beta blocker Propranolol, which is also well known to life extensionists as a beta blocker.
Issue 8 covered a "safe substance which will improve memory, increase positive mental energy, fight brain aging, lift depressions and increase sexual desire" that has been available for general dispensing in France since 1981. The article was very positive about the benefits of this product, and as usual a full set of references was provided. Thie issue also covered another olf favourite KH3, and also another antiobiotic, which was considered to be very safe and free of side effects. It is particularly useful for infections of the lungs, nose, throat and mouth.
Subscriptions are available to Offshore Medical Therapies for $19.00 from PO Box 833, Farmingdale NY 11737. I am keen to keep up with how well they are servicing customers, so please let me know of any irregularities in supply or response to mail.
Dr Bernard Lown Appears on British Television.
Dr Bernard Lown is an active pacifist and one of America"s leading cardiologists. He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1985.
He was interviewed as part of the monthly BBC2 science program Antenna.
The interview started with a discussion of how he became involved in the peace movement, and how it helped him with his fear of sudden cardiac death. He formed a world wide group of what he terms a new class of citizen, and he worked towards finding a solution to the world problem of sudden death by means of war.
The program then went on to discuss his approach to his patients. He said that what is necessary is that one shouldn"t permit technology to become a substitute for time. He likes to spend time listening and talking with his patients to learn what their problems are. Of course he uses the necessary technology, but he doesn"t put it first.
He tries to make his office an easy going friendly place, where people are friendly and pleasant to others. He allows no waiting. If a patient is kept waiting 20 minutes, he wants to know why. He has never been late seeing a patient. Ultimately he puts it down to respect for individual people. He quoted from Othello: "He who take my purse takes nought, he who takes my time robs me of life."
His research makes him a firm believer of mind over matter. If a doctor gives a patient a poor prognosis, it is often a case of a self fulfilling prophesy. He has seen this many times. He said that at one particular coronary unit, the greatest number of deaths occurring in the day was in the hour after the professor made his rounds.
He says that the rise of cults like Christian Science is due to the fact that the medical profession brushes aside what it doesn"t understand. Unfortunately he linked the taking of vitamins and minerals with cultish activities.
However he says that cults do show the medical profession the basis of the common sense caring aspects of healing. When a visiting Kenyan doctor accompanied Dr Lown on his rounds at his cardiac unit, he said that Dr Lown reminded him of a witch doctor. The rest of the party recoiled in horror at the remark, and later the Kenyan apologised to Dr Lown, but Dr Lown said that he understood what was meant, and took it as a complement.
So he emphasises the positive: if a patient has a 1% chance of dying from his complaint over the next year, he emphasises the 99% chance he has of living. He accuses many doctors of focusing on the 1%, and by that attitude making the patient so depressed that he does, in fact, perish promptly. He says "This is because doctors are so trained to look at the worst case scenario, so trained to always be right ..."
He says that if you are willing to give the time, then that is testimony to caring. He says that care and neural activity are intricately linked. This is a fundamental motif. He says that there would be a much less tarnished image with the medical profession, especially in the United States, if the doctor took time. He says that doctors should not be afraid of being wrong, and admitting honest mistakes. He says that he has done this and not been sued once. One patient came back for him to have a second try, and when Dr Lown expressed his surprise, the patient said that another doctor might have killed him, and he didn"t think Dr Lown would make his mistake twice. He says the moment he shows patients that he is committed to them and really cares, then they will be charitable enough to forgive him his mistakes.
When a doctor won"t admit error and acts in a godly fashion, then people resent it brutally, and then assault him. He says medical school teaches people not how to think but how to remember well. If you don"t think you don"t feel. And that is a very wrong way of proceeding.
Getting Past the Government/Public Barrier
The Financial Times of 6 April carried a story relating to the blacklisting of companies which trade with Iraq. Apparently the US government has passed a law granting itself immunity from damages if it incorrectly lists a company. However, the paper says, there is the possibility that companies unjustly accused can bring private lawsuits against the individuals concerned in the government departments, "but ... this can involve the parties in lengthy and costly litigation." It also said that lawsuits against individuals acting on government orders are on the increase in the United States.
This is obviously relevant to the legal wrangles in California and Arizona. In the latter case, The Life Extension Foundation have issued a cartoon linking the FDA with the Gestapo, confiscating vitamins in a "swag bag" and trampling on the US constitution on the way.
Bristol Myers Squibb grows 33%
In the annual report for 1990, Mr Richard L. Gelb, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Myers Squibb, the pharmaceuticals multinational, stated that shareholders" funds had grown by 33% during the year. Dividends had increased by a compound annual rate of 18% over both the past five and the past ten years. During 1990, the company had repurchased 9.5 million of its own shares. (They are about $75 each!)
The company"s range of products has been discussed in these columns before, but this report has many pages of details on their cardiovascular work, both medicinally and in the form of surgical products.
Update on Time
There is no further news on melatonin, although I feel quietly confident that I may be able to add my own personal recommendation after using it for a longer period.
Generally, in conversations with people of various backgrounds it appears that time in the context of there not being more than 24 hours in a day is the major issue, rather than time as in allotted lifespan. An article in the Financial Times on retirement commented that many retired people wonder how they ever found the time to hold down a job. Many letters I receive as editor of Fractal Report contain some comment about lack of time to fulfil ambitions.
However most of these people don"t seem to draw the conclusion that immortalism in general or cryonic suspension in particular is the solution. After all lack of time isn"t consciously related to mortality, but that one can"t get all one want to do done before the next "input" occurs. If that input relates to something that hasn"t been done, then we get that most frustrating time effect "lost opportunity".
An analogy can be obtained in motoring. If you are 30 seconds late on a journey and as you turn onto a road get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle that you cannot pass because of traffic your thirty seconds lateness could be magnified into an appreciable fraction of an hour at the other end. If you weren"t thirty seconds late in the first place, you would have turned onto the road in front of the slow vehicle and completed your journey on time.
Possibly the following speculation is a waste of time in someone pushed for time, but nevertheless it is interesting. Imagine a universe where each individual has his own time dimension, and communicates with the others through a common time stream, which he can enter and leave at any point. Think how many frustrations that would ease!Well, at least I have vented my own frustration by writing a song We Gotta Smash Time and have had a musician compose an excellent tune for it. By the time this appears the backing track should also have been finished. The words are slightly ambivalent, and it could also be taken for an immortalist song as a hymn of hate against death, so it can take its place in the portfolio of immortalist songs. The problem of death is likely to be solved long before the problem of time, which for the foreseeable future will only be solved by those individuals who have the money and power to take time from others.
It is a tribute to Dr Lown (see first item) that he has such an unprofessional attitude to his patients" time. ("Unprofessional" is not a term of abuse - I mean it literally "unlike most professions".)
The Cornish Scene this time was Hicks Mill, near Chacewater. Details of this mill was sent to me when I was looking for property in Cornwall. It was offered at about $20,000, but it was subsequently withdrawn. The property I in fact bought was much nicer, and in a better position, but the mill would have been useful in that I could have generated my own electricity from the water flow.
Self sufficiency means isolation from politically inspired and other inflation, and indeed would be a worthwhile pursuit for any cryonics facility. I always keep a lookout for ways to generate liquid nitrogen, because although at present industrial supplies are cheap, this may not always be so.
On Selling a Book
I met an uncle I hadn't seen for many years one day in May, and he expressed an interest in vitamins etc. Despite the fact that he had worked for Roche, he was interested in Life Extension Mix, and Life Extension - A Practical Scientific Approach, for which he insisted on paying. I also mentioned cryonic suspension, and he asked me what I felt about the chances of it's working. I said that technically I thought the chances were excellent, but legally I felt that there were many obstacles. He brushed aside the legal objections, and asked me further about the technicalities. I told him about nanotechnology, and he seemed to accept it. But he said that he felt that cryonics wasn't for him, and rejected a copy of Prospect of Immortality. Then the conversation went on to other things.
Later it went back to cryonics, and I mentioned that when people are revived, they will come back as young rejuvenated people, for example as at age 25. Then he became extremely interested and accepted a copy of Prospect of Immortality.
The interest of this little story is that people talking about cryonics may well be totally unaware of conclusions to which the listener has jumped - in this case, that suspended people are revived as rickety old men. To anyone who has studied cryonics for a long period, such ideas are so ridiculous that we no longer felt it necessary to mention them.
But a newcomer is likely to be in tune with conventional medicine, which spends a fortune in money and makes the patient spend a lot of time and undergo a lot of suffering merely for a tiny life extension as expressed as a percentage of lifespan. Thinking this way, it is easy to make the mistake that the purpose of cryonic suspension is to reanimate the patient into a very similar state to which he was suspended, only to perish again shortly afterwards. No wonder so many people think cryonics insane if this is the way they look at it.
The Best Cryonics Prospects
I have written in the past that it is difficult to categorise people as good cryonics prospects. However I am beginning to realise that myself I am very unusual in that I think as I do, yet approve of cryonics. I don't meet many people who are what Larry Niven describes in World out of Time as "born tourists" because like most humans I tend to associate with people of similar interests etc. However when I do, I find that they do appear receptive to cryonics.
However I find that the video material presently available to promote cryonic suspension too often jumps straight into scenes of surgery, and only later focuses on the individuals involved. This has caused many prospects to turn off the video and the idea as a whole.
I would like therefore to propose a new approach to programme making, showing many varied people talking about why they want to live a long time, or indeed for ever, and showing their lifestyles and interests. If the prospect identifies with them, then he is more likely to persevere with the technicalities later on.
Legal Action Threatens Air Safety
When airline pilot William Stewart made a mistake when landing a 747, which he subsequently corrected by quick reflexes, he reported the incident. He did so in the belief that by reporting such incidents general procedures and safety can be improved. However The Civil Aviation Authority's lawyers saw a case in it, and at the subsequent prosecution the pilot was fined £2,000.
However the British Airline Pilots' Association pointed out that this prosecution will make pilots reluctant to report such incidents, with the result that dangerous procedures and badly designed aeroplanes will take longer to detect, possibly with loss of life. They also commented that the operation of airliners is an extremely complicated process which involves many people - although the captain officially takes responsibility. They doubt whether lawyers are capable, under the restraints of a law hearing, of fully understanding the issues involved.
One cannot fail to see a similarity with cryonics here!
The Daily Telegraph in a bid to increase its circulation is offering a weeks' free trial. However the headline for an important result in gene research by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund was crass in the extreme, and not likely to win my support: Gene Research Makes a Man out of a Mouse.
What actually happened was that the researchers, headed by Drs Peter Goodfellow and Robin Lovell-Badge, found the gene that selects sex. They took a female mouse embryo, implanted the gene, and got a male mouse as a result. However the although the mouse behaved as a male, it was sterile. Additional genes need to be added to get it to produce sperm.
The researchers claim that the work will produce greater understanding of the process of growth, and as cancer is a disorder of growth, should enable them to understand the disease better.
God's Latest Creation
The BBC's Science series Horizon discussed new lifeforms on 13 May. Has God made new superbeings that will live in harmony and joy with their environment, beings that do not need to make other animals suffer in order to live, beings that do not need to suffer in birth and to suffer old age and die, wasting all their experiences?
No, of course not. What God is busy making now are new viruses, hundreds of and thousands them. According to the program AIDS is just the tip of an iceberg of many fatal and revolting diseases appearing in the world.
The very latest "thing bright and beautiful" is a virus that shows no outward symptoms of disease - except hypertension and strokes. It's recent appearance has been observed throughout most of the world, including the United States and Great Britain.
The serious science behind these creations is that viruses as a class of life evolve very fast. The programme showed graphically how just one mutation that enables an existing virus to cross a species barrier, or to develop a new way of killing its host, or transmitting itself between hosts, will propagate with horrific speed. Humanity's vast numbers provide a very suitable "global laboratory test tube" for these new creations to enact a sick survival of the fittest game. The "fittest" virus gets to exterminate humanity.
Global travel is an excellent "stirrer" in this test tube, together with inroads being made by civilisation into wild parts of Africa and South America. This gives viruses, that have not been successful in exterminating local human populations, who have evolved immune response, a chance to move out into unprepared hosts.
The television programme offered no easy solutions to God's nano machines. However some scientists appeared saying that humanity's science and intellect gave the species a fighting chance in the war against these tiny creatures.
Our Cornish Scene this month was the Huer's Hut, near Newquay. This was used by a system of optical ship to shore communication - the "huer" looked out to sea, and when he saw the pilchard fleet return, he started shouting to alert the locals to it's return. This particular hut was built in the 14th century, and may have originally been a hermitage with a light to guide shipping - another form of optical communication! The hut was restored in 1833, the builder being paid in fish.
As a year has passed since I first started using Bob Acton's sketches, and as this issue will be appearing around the holiday season, I think it is sensible to repeat the full list of his books, together with new additions.
These describe circular walks that can be made in Cornwall, from a couple of miles up to seven or eight miles in length. The books describe points of interest along the walks, and provide sketches and photographs. Titles available include: A View from Carn Marth £2.50, A View from St Agnes Beacon £2.75, Around the Fal £2.70, Around the Helford, £2.95, Around Newquay, £2.70, A View from Carn Brea £2.95, Around the River Fowey, £2.95, Around Padstow, £3.30 The books are available by post from Landfall Publications, Landfall, Penpol, Devoran, Truro TR3 6NW, Cornwall, United Kingdom. £1.50p airmail per book, 60p each surface.
The High Cost of US Health Care
A letter written in The Financial Times of 23 May, by a law firm partner, commented on a recent article in that same paper in praise of the British National Health Service. It castigated the author of that article for not pointing out that the main reason for the high cost of US health care is the litigious nature of US society.
US professional negligence premiums are several time higher than their European counterparts. Fear of litigation causes doctors to order tests of every conceivable nature before commencing treatment.
I would add the comment that surely tests in themselves often carry some risk, so ordering additional tests that are not really necessary could also lead to litigation. If someone was injured during a test and could prove the test wasn't really relevant to the symptoms with which they presented, then I should have thought they would have a genuine grievance.
Scientologists, FDA and Lawyers Fail to Stop Marketing of Prozac.
In a statement to shareholders dated 10 May, 1991 Eli Lilly and Company announced that after a long struggle they had obtained FDA approval for a new liquid dosage form of the antidepressant Prozac. The approval to market Prozac in this new form is the most recent affirmation of the product's safety and effectiveness, says Mr Richard D. Wood, chairman of the board.
On 19 April, The Wall Street Journal published a one page article that exposed the pivotal role of the Scientologists in a conspiracy to suppress the use of Prozac. They are opposed to psychologists and the use of medicines to treat mental and nervous disorders. They falsely claimed that Prozac induces irresponsibility, and some lawyers have used this as a defence in criminal cases. However, according to The Wall Street Journal article most of these defences were disallowed. The Scientologists' campaign was described as "paramilitary" and had some success in reducing sales of the drug to 21% of the antidepressant market from 25%.
Mr Wood says that three and a half million patients have benefited from Prozac and they are a testimony to its effectiveness and safety.
The company's quarterly report focussed on its efforts to protect the environment. It has set itself emission standards tougher than those demanded by legislation. It is also re-engineering its processes to use fewer volatile chemicals. It is volatile chemicals that tend to escape the most from chemical plants, as they can get through very small holes in pipework that would contain others. Another step it is taking is to cease using underground storage tanks. Although these are out of sight, leaks can go on longer without detection, resulting in ground water pollution. Instead, tanks will be mounted above ground over concrete basins, that would be big enough to contain any result of a failure of the tank.
Roche Publish Investor Reports on Vitamin Supplements.
The Swiss based vitamin manufacturer Roche Products has published two investor booklets on vitamins. They outline the deficiency groups and the benefits of supplementing the elderly above the RDA levels. The booklets are conservative compared with anything put out by the life extension movement, but they point in the same direction, and indeed I understand that Pearson & Shaw were contacted by Roche for their views. The booklets have several pages of scientific references to back up their contentions.
Upjohn Still Down
Upjohn is unusual amongst the pharmaceutical companies in that it's share price isn't anywhere near its all time high before the crash. Nevertheless their quarterly report dated 15 April they report increased sales, up by 10% over the same quarter last year.
It is possible that the share price high was artificially inflated by false hopes over the sale of Minoxidil lotion for male pattern baldness. As it turned out, the drug helps a significant portion of those affected, but not all of them. The product is still being marketed, and commentators don't seem to have made their mind up as to whether it is called "Regaine" or "Rogaine"! In this report, it was Rogaine.
Upjohn is streamlining and increasing the efficiency of its research. By running parts of projects in parallel, it has reduced the time it takes to get a product to the human trials stage, from 36 to 18 months. This has not been at the cost of safety, but as a result of greater efficiency and concentrating on core areas.
One of these areas is the class of compounds known as Lazaroids. These are of interest to cryonicists because they appear to be promising inhibitors of degenerative processes associated with ischemia-reperfusion injuries, such as head and spinal cord trauma, thrombotic stroke and subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Marion Merrel Dow's Strong Base in OTC
In its fourth quarter report dated January 1991 Marion Merrel Dow said that it was aware of greater consumer interest in self medication and wellness.
Seldane, its hayfever product, is already available OTC in England, but the company has taken full page advertisements in Omni advising U. S. readers to ask their physicians for prescriptions. Its sales have doubled over the fourth quarter from the comparable quarter the previous year. Annually they increased by 40%.
Nicorette is a the only prescription only medicine designed to help people getting off the addiction to smoking their lungs. It's sales exceeded $100 million for the year, with a quarter increase of 59% and annual increase of 22%.
New developments include a mixture of Seldane and a decongestant called Seldane-D, and Nicoderm, a skin patch to help those lung smokers kick their habit.
In December, the company acquired shares and product marketing rights with Geritech Inc., a New Jersey biotechnology company interested in "treating the health effects of aging."
Periastron Laughs at Mummification
Dr Thomas Donaldson's policy of printing everything sent to his science newsletter Periastron received its first real test in an article by Douglas Skrecky on Mummification as an alternative to cryonic suspension. This is the process sometimes referred to as morphostasis, or locking atoms in place chemically.
Mr Skrecky mentions viability problems with cryonics and suggests that they'd be solved by mummification and storage in titanium caskets. The advantages of this process would be that no maintenance would be required, less cost would lead to less financial interest in disturbing arrangements, and less risk of loss through abandonment.
Dr Donaldson wonders whether to laugh or cry, and points out that the ideas rely on no experiments, by Mr Skrecky or others, to verify that tissue can be fixed for long periods by mummification. He likens the concept to science fiction, whereas cryonics is based upon more solid reasoning.
Also in this issue of Periastron there are a good crop of articles about the brain, ranging from location of memory, though recovering brain tissue from ischemia, to two items on neurons. The articles suggest that it may be easier to recover memories from suspended patients than was first thought. There are also two articles on nanotechnology.
Periastron PO Box 2365, Sunnyvale, California 94087. Subscriptions cost $2.50 per issue. If you pay for many issues in advance, you avoid any possible price rises. If the newsletter does not continue for any reason, unused subscriptions will be refunded with interest!
Laser Dentistry Comes to Cornwall
Laser dental surgery first appeared in the UK in Scotland last year, as reported in this column. However a dentist in St Austell, Mr Simon Fox, is the first in Cornwall to offer his patients this treatment. It cannot be used to drill enamel or old fillings, but it will clear soft tooth tissue, and it is said to be painless.
A patient of his was interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall and she said that she was usually frightened of dental treatment. However she said that the laser was painless and that she felt no after effects, as with local anaesthetics. Mr Fox's patients are charged 50% extra to have the laser instead of the drill.
Note on Zehse's Cuttings
A comment by Mike Darwin in Cryonics 12(6), June 1991, indicated that some readers may not appreciate the choice of logo. Mr Mike Zehse, a long term reader of Longevity Report, sends in newspaper cuttings he takes out of a rubbish bin at a block of London flats, hence the logo. I select which cuttings to use, and write the summaries.
More on Information Socialism
The above item makes me, not Mike Zehse, guilty of the comments on the long running discussion in Cryonics on information socialism which Mike Darwin quotes.
I would like to add one comment on the subject of invention. Humanity loves its heroes, and therefore likes to put the accolade on inventors. People love a story about a misunderstood inventor struggling against the establishment.
When I worked in the electronics industry I took out a patent and knew many other people who did. The advantage of working for a wage doing this is that the company takes the huge financial risk of taking out a patent which usually comes to nothing. Although patents cost relatively little in themselves, the professional costs of a private inventor taking out a patent are comparable with buying a small house! He can do it himself, but as any lawyer will tell you a legal document drawn up by an amateur is open to attack from all sides. Just the absence of a by-line from a professional firm is a sure sign of vulnerability!
The other and more important comment is that the invention of a device requires components and information on how those components are used. An inventor is a person who is in the right place at the right time.
In theory, the ancient Greeks could have invented television. They could use a pinhole to project a picture onto a wall, divide the wall into squares, and have semaphore signallers send appropriate signals as to the brightness of each square. At the receiving end, the reverse process is performed, ie the squares are coloured in. Such an apparatus would have been highly impractical, and indeed to send enough pictures to make into a flick book (for moving pictures) would have been a lifetime's work.
But once we had voice telegraphy, we had various inventors coming up with television ideas. Baird achieved public fame as the inventor of television, but in reality many inventors were responsible. Voice frequencies initially offered far too little bandwidth to send moving pictures of any clarity, and wartime radar developments gave people the idea of using wide bandwidths, such have been in use until very recently.
It was the dream of many engineers to get television back to voice bandwidths, so simple recording and transmission was possible. This was thought to be impossible until another tool appeared: fractal mathematics.
The first person to implement television using this was Michael Barnsley, and he has now formed a company offering products enabling television signals to be sent in real time down voice telephone channels. [Barnsley Communications 5550-A, Peachtree Parkway Suite 545 Norcross GA 30092. An IBM PC, with frame grabber (ie real time television input device) and video output hardware is required to use Dr Barnsley's device, which is a plug in card and software disk.]
The point of labouring all this is that the inventor is not really a unique individual. A really practical invention will be made by many people - one will claim the honours. If a villainous time traveller had a hatred against television and went back in time and murdered Baird, then all that would happen is that someone else would take the accolade in the history books.
To my way of thinking, the hardest part of invention is getting recognition, not the actual process of invention. Often a person who has spent a lot of time publicising a product or process becomes associated with it's invention. This was certainly the case with Baird. This is not to belittle his work. If he hadn't spent time doing this, television may have come a few years later than it did. But it still would have come!
Invention is great fun, and people will do it regardless of the rewards. Development and marketing is a totally different matter, and many inventors don't bother. I have an artificial electric flame light outside the house. It flickers at random, not flashes completely on or off. The variation is quite small, enough to be noticeable but not enough to be annoying. I did think of trying to market it - there are many pubs and restaurants that have old oil lamps with electric bulbs in them which would look much better with the artificial flame effect. When after contacting a patent agent I waited three months for a reply and was then told I'd even have to pay just for a preliminary discussion, I decided not to bother. No doubt if I had a really world shattering invention, it would have been different but very few inventions really are world shattering!
In the Cryonics article it was mentioned that The Immortalist refuses to mention the name "Alcor" in print, and suppresses Alcor information. Well, I have been writing in The Immortalist for about 10 years, and I have never noticed anything I have said about Alcor being censored from its pages. I would be very surprised if there was a single reader of The Immortalist who hasn't heard of Cryonics magazine, and if he wanted to read it would take out a subscription. I haven't heard of anything in The Immortalist Society or The Cryonics Institute's by- laws forbidding members to read Cryonics or indeed any publication.
British Tax Police Stage Gestapo Style Raid on UK Car Importer
The Financial Times of 27 June printed an article which described raids made by the Inland Revenue, the authority that polices income, capital and business tax collection in the UK, on Nissan UK Ltd. and its professional advisors. The raids were timed at 7am, and the chairman was caught undressed.
Nissan UK Ltd. is a company registered in Panama which imports Nissan cars into UK. It has no formal connection with the manufacturers in Japan, and indeed is to lose its rights to import the cars in 1992. This loss is the subject of further court actions.
The tax raids were said to be in connection with serious frauds involving many millions of pounds. They were sanctioned by a circuit judge in chambers, without the opportunity of the defendants being represented.
The chairman's chauffeur said that the chairman was eventually allowed to dress before being taken to headquarters for questioning. However no arrests were made, and a company spokesman said that they were quire sure everything was in order and that there could be no prosecution of the firm arising from this.
The purpose of including this story is to show that this sort of police action did not cease with the end of the last war (although obviously it has been toned down to an extent - the chairman was allowed to dress, and no one suggests he was beaten up). Events at the Life Extension Foundation and Alcor should be seen in this context. The fact that the LEF and Alcor have been raided does not mean that they are guilty of any offence, and that life extension and cryonics are in some way shady activities.
It is unfortunate that we still live in a society where the authorities can and want to behave in this way, and obviously those seeking a change have their chance through free speech and the ballot box. Personally I think that negotiations between the individual (or company) and the authorities ought to include the issue of a warning by the authorities that they do not believe what the individual has said, and the matter should be dealt with by further negotiation. After all, if a company is knowingly conducting a fraud it is hardly likely to leave evidence available in its offices to be raided at any time. The sole purpose of raids is terrorism - to enforce the law by fear.
In Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw's Life Extension Newsletter 3,4 they quote James Strock, the chief of the U.S. EPA's growing enforcement section:
My bottom line goal has been for people to be as fearful when they get a call from EPA enforcement as they are when they hear from the IRS.(Wall Street Journal 25 March 1991.)
They point out that he would have made a good SS officer, whose main objective is fear, not law enforcement.
They also quote from Ken Feather, leader of the FDA's Drug Advertising Surveillance Branch. (27 May 1991 Advertising Age):
The Old Way is over. We used to say that if a company made certain changes, then we would probably not take any action. Now, we won't. Now, even if they make the changes, they might end up in court. We want to say to those companies that you don't known when or how we'll strike. We want to eliminate predictability.
Again, another good SS officer type. Why not call the FDA the Todtpolizei? (German = "Death police" - policing the demand by society that the individual doesn't get more than a fair share of lifespan.)
Pearson and Shaw quote another example, and suggest that the purpose of law should be to provide a basis for predictable human relations.
Making the law unpredictable is state terrorism.
Advice on Life Insurance
In an article on June on investment for the small investor, the Financial Times made some comparisons between life insurance and unit trusts (similar to mutual funds in the USA.) It said that the best unit trust will well outpace the best life policy. If you are committing a regular sum each month to a unit trust savings scheme and you come to a period of financial difficulty there is no loss if you have to miss payments for a while. Also you can cash in your unit trust holding without losing much, whereas a life holding's encashment value is usually well below what you paid in, especially in early years. This is because of the higher professional costs and the cost of the risk born by the life company. However over the long term, the worst life policy will do better than the worst unit trust.
U.K.'s Socialists Plan Savage Taxes.
Another article in the same paper described the plans of the U.K.'s Socialists to concentrate the wealth of the people into government control, should they be elected at the next election. In the U.K., as in many Commonwealth countries, Socialists call themselves "The Labour Party".
Under the heading of "redistribution" (which in normal parlance suggests spreading out, not concentrating), they propose to reduce the capital gains limit from £5,300 to £1,000, increase the rate of capital gains tax from 25% to 50%, and impose an anti-savings tax in addition to income tax on all savings incomes of over £3,000. Income tax rates will rise across the range, as will "National Insurance" (a sort of additional income tax targeted to the social security system. It is not insurance, because benefits are paid out of current income, not out of capital which amasses from past profits, as with genuine insurance organisations.) The highest rate of all deductions on income will be 59%, instead of the present 40%.
The Financial Times goes on to suggest that far from being horrified at the proposals, the financial services industry in the city will actually welcome them, as people will be far more motivated to buy expensive professional advice on how to reduce their losses to tax and inflation.
The present regime of 25% tax on quite good incomes, low inflation and limited "National Insurance" has made people lose interest in tax loopholes, although many still exist. The Socialists plan to remove some of them, but not all, and whilst there are lawyers alive more will be discovered and utilised in investment "products." The Socialists plan to introduce some form of minimum tax which makes people pay a certain portion of their income regardless of loopholes, but even so they are expected to retain sufficient incentive to pay the fees of their friends in the professions.
It would be amusing in a way if this did happen and the UK became the leading left wing country of the world and we eventually have to have aid from a (then reformed) USSR to sort out our ruined economy. [Note - the Socialists were never elected until 1997, and then "New Labour" started with a policy of cutting state benefit that was far to the right of the outgoing Conservative Government.]
Our Cornish Scene this month was the Pandora Inn, near Falmouth.
As long ago at the 15th Century the main route between Truro, the county town, and Falmouth, a major port, passed through this point, where there was a ferry until the 1930s.
The Inn was initially called The Passage House Inn, but was renamed The Ship Inn in 1799. There is a story that in the mid 19th Century the name Pandora Inn was given to the premises when the skipper of the ship, that was sent to Tahiti to repatriate the mutineers from The Bounty, bought it to end his days. It was said that this skipper retired in disgrace as he lost his ship in a wreck in 1791.
Lawyer on a Disk
A computer program available on the shareware system provides tutorials on legal matters together with a system to generate simple forms. Many subjects are covered, from divorce to death, including such mundane matters as loaning your neighbour your lawn mower or hedge trimmer. The program is operated by a very simple menu system, and forms can be printed out after a series of questions are asked on screen. There are two types of response boxes, either a simple multiple choice, or a text entry line. The latter is usually required in instances where the names of people, objects or addresses are required.
Having bought the disk from a shareware dealer, you may review this program for as long as you wish. If you desire to become a registered user, the fee is a dollar under $40. To register you may call 24 hours daily at 1-800-358-9100, to order by check, money orders, Mastercard and Visa. You may also register by fax or by mail: fax 407-699-8419, mail: R FRINGE SOFTWARE P.O. Box 37155 Tallahasee Florida 32315. Registered users receive a free update and updates twice a year for a year. After this time, update may be received annually for a further $15 per year. Please state disk size.
The makers emphasise that this system shouldn't be a substitute for legal advice, however it enables people to prepare forms that can then be taken to lawyers for perusal, and this process often saves time and money.
As data storge and retrieval becomes less expensive, programs of this nature will eventually replace high cost professionals in many cases. Although this 1.5 MB program doesn't claim to do that, it shows the way it will be done in the future. It is certainly a useful education in legal matters and could form a useful primer so that clients can be informed when they enter the lawyer's offices, and therefore spend less expensive time there. [Now in 1997, of course, there are the Internet legal newsgroups and the WWW and countless versions of this disk on CD ROM.]
Panic in Wall Street Journal
Mr Milan Panic, chairman of ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., enclosed a photocopy of a recent Wall Street Journal article on his company with the quarterly statement for the period ended 28 February.
The article stated that human tests in Sweden had indicated that ICN Pharmaceutical Inc's antiviral drug Ribavarin might be useful in treating hepatitis C, the hepatitis picked up from human blood. The drug wards off the liver damage the virus is designed to cause, rather than exterminating the infection or curing the disease. At last this was the conclusion after a 12 weeks trial.
The alternative treatment for this disease is interferon, which has to be injected and leads to cures in only 10% to 20% of patients. Alpha interferon is produced by Schering-Plough Corp and Hoffman La Roche Inc. The Wall Street Journal report, dated 3 May 1991, stated that The Lancet that week had suggested trials using both interferon and ribavarin to see if they acted synergistically to eradicate the disease.
ICN, based in Costa Mesa, California, developed Ribavarin some 20 years ago, but has had problems marketing it. Readers of Cryonics may recall Mike Darwin's description of its use when he travelled outside the region his immune system was able to cope with and succumbed to a number of diseases on a European trip. If it is effective as he says it is, then it would seem it should be in every traveller's medicine case.
I first became aware of ICN some years ago when it was mentioned in Cryonics as being a recipient of the award of a contract by Eastman Kodak to investigate novel methods of extending human lifespan. Although the companies later dissolved this contract, there has always been an accent on life extension in the work of Mr Panic's company.
For the February quarter, ICN reported a profit of 3 cents per share, as against a loss of 54 cents a share in the same quarter in the previous year. Mr Panic attributed the improvement to cutting expenses and currency gains on their foreign public debt.
Call to End Crown Immunity on Clinical Waste Disposal
Mr Dyfrig James, chairman of the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors, has called for an end to Crown Immunity for government plants dealing with the destruction of medical waste from Health Authorities.
He believes that standards are low and "shabby" according to a report in Funeral Service Journal dated July 1991.
Funeral Directors Augment Scheme Similar to CI trust to prepay Funerals.
An article in the July Funeral Service Journal outlined problems in paying for funerals that will be very familiar to cryonicists. Many people do not want to burden their relations with their funeral costs yet want to have the sort of "send off" they desire. Therefore they want to pay for their funerals in advance, but this is difficult because no one knows exactly when they will be annihilated and the cost of funerals rises with and sometimes beyond ordinary inflation.
The article in Funeral Service Journal listed the difficulties with placing one's funds with any one small funeral director:
A. If the chosen firm becomes insolvent the customer ranks as an unsecured creditor and is unlikely to obtain either a funeral or money.
B. The firm has received payment for funeral services and that payment should rank as profit in the year of receipt. The taxation authorities will therefore confiscate part of the sum as taxation for that year, leaving less to be invested to keep up with inflation.
C. Capital appreciation and income form part of the profits of the company and again suffer taxation regardless of the inflation of the costs of the services to which they have been applied.
D. The insurance industry are unable to provide solutions to these problems because there is no life insurance available where the sum assured and premiums rise in line with inflation. Attempts to do this have all failed to keep up with inflation, because extra life cover bought at later years costs more than if it was bought in early years.
A firm of solicitors have now developed a scheme that appears to be very similar to trusts used for cryonics, except that they manage the trusts for a fee rather than let the owner manage them himself. (Under UK law no trust can be managed by its owner, and a non professional managing it can't get compensation for his time or expenses.)
The features of the scheme are as follows. It looks like being a nice little earner for the solicitors while at the same time being better than anything previously offered to the UK funeral pre-mortem purchaser.
A. The funds placed in the trust can be related to the level of funeral required by the owner according to the likely fees charged in his local town.
B. There is no tax problems - virtually 100% of the funds provided can be invested, although the management fees are deducted, and are probably subject to VAT (a sort of transferable sales tax, where the retail customer is the mug at the end of the chain.)
C. Any surplus funds remaining after the funeral has been paid for remain the property of the solicitors managing the trust.
The article does not say what happens if the cost of the required funeral rises beyond what is in the trust, or what happens if investments go down rather than up, as they are wont to do at the most inappropriate moment. Personally, I would advise them to have more funds in the trust than are really needed, and arrange for any surplus to go to either a family beneficiary or to charity.
Of course, with cryonics it is different - any surplus funds benefit the cryonics organisation and therefore the patient. And, of course, provided the investments of the trust are located in the US, US law can apply, where the manager of the trust is the owner, and therefore there are no demands upon him except for his time. And he would have to spend that time managing his affairs whether they were in a trust or not. Therefore the trust effectively costs nothing.
Health Care and Inflation
Inflation is a real problem because interest rates are not always higher than inflation, and certainly after-tax interest rates seldom rise above inflation. Of course, inflation can be overcome by investment in stocks, but one has to chose the correct stocks to get a positive result, therefore the strategy is not without risks. As regular readers will know, I am in favour of science based companies who spend a lot on research.
The problem of inflation of health costs is one that inspired an article in The Financial Times of 25 July. Primarily it was a book review of Serious and Unstable Condition: Financing America's Health Care by Henry J Aaron (Brookings Institute, Washington).
However it set out the problem as one of uncontrolled price rises and an increasing taxpayer burden for the 34 million Americans who weren't insured. This number will grow as premiums rise beyond average earnings.
The left wing favour a tax-financed system of insurance as operated in Canada, with central budget controls.
The conservatives (ie individualist) approach is to abolish employer tax incentives for health insurance and replace them with individual tax credits.
However the former scheme would destroy the health insurance "industry", and increase public expenditure and hence damage the economy. Both schemes have no control over price inflation.
Mr Aaron proposes in his book another alternative: "pay or play". Employers are required either to provide basic health care or alternatively they must pay extra taxes. As this would do nothing to control costs, he suggests a tier of government control in the form of more quasi independent regulatory agencies.
I can't see any of these schemes working. The only way to control inflation is by making costs breakdowns of any product or service public, and to instill in buyers a gut reaction hatred of rising prices so that they'll do anything to oppose them. If everyone who increases prices lost business, then prices would not rise.
As the human knowledge base rises and technology increases, there are technological fixes to most price rise problems. They require more effort and head scratching than simply passing the cost on to the consumer.
And health consumers are seldom in a position to bargain!
On Motives and Pricing
I was very impressed by Dr Zinn's article in The Immortalist July 1991. It reinforced my view that it is not professionals as individuals that one should chase, but the motivations of professions as a whole.
A similar analysis of health care providers and insurers (as in the previous item) may be a better approach to containing health costs as opposed to trying to do so by regulation.
I hope that Dr Zinn saw the item in The Immortalist February 1991 page 21 The Economic Effect of Litigation concerning the work of Stephen Magee at the University of Texas. He claims to have shown scientifically that GNP growth is negatively related to the number of white collar workers who are lawyers in a country. If Dr Zinn is familiar with this work he may like to consider another article for The Immortalist discussing the issues with the benefit of his greater knowledge of the subject. Possibly he may even be able to suggest remedies that would be more effective than Mr Magee's.
A report in The Evening Standard of 14 June commented that whilst the salaries of directors of public companies were coming in for some approbium, those of lawyers had not so far been scrutinised. The paper put this right, and published a box, reproduced below, detailing the salaries. In addition to these salaries, partners in the firm receive a proportion of the firm's overall profits.
Thus senior partners get over $425 per hour.
It is a pity that all this remuneration isn't inspired by something more creative. But it's not the lawyers fault, it's ours. We live in a democratic society, and we allow this to happen.
I can't recall where I read it, but recently I read "The Americans made smart bombs, and the Japanese made smart VCRs, CDs and hi-fis. Who's doing better now!"
I can't help feeling that there is a parallel here with all the talent and effort that is being rewarded by high litigation fees, whereas those who actually make things and make vital scientific discoveries and support these activities constructively have to rely merely on job satisfaction. The litigation is the smart bombs, and the scientific discoveries that the immortalist movement needs is the consumer production of the Far East.
The Death of Communism Brings Problems to German Dead
In Funeral Service Journal of July 1991 it was reported that the collapse of Communist rule in eastern Germany (Formerly the German "Democratic" Republic) also caused the collapse of the state run funeral directors. The private companies which took it place are no longer subsidised, and they are charging twenty five times the old prices. A bill for a funeral in Eastern Germany now amounts to two months average wages.
AIDS Pandemic Not Over
An article in New Scientist of 27 July suggested that the reduced media coverage given to AIDS these days belies the facts. Although the incidence of the disease in the homosexual and intravenous groups is on the decline, large quantities of the virus was vented to the heterosexual population by way of bisexual men and drug takers of both sexes. In the early days talks of "Gay Plague" and the suchlike let heterosexuals to take few precautions, and the article suggests that the peak of the heterosexual epidemic is yet to appear.
The article also suggested that the virus met its saturation point in gay men, the largest group affected, in the mid 1980s, ie there were no more for it to infect. However for the rest of us the potential pandemic is at an early stage. There are no limits to the spread.
British Made Nanomachine
A team of British and Italian researchers claim to have made, chemically, a "molecular shuttle". It is a ring shaped molecule that encircles a molecular string, and switches position between two points along it. The machine could have uses in a mechanical nanocomputer.
Neil Spencer and Fraser Stoddart at the University of Sheffield worked with Pier Lucio Anelli of the Centre for Synthesis and Stereochemistry of Special Organic Systems in Milan to develop a chemical process to yield the nanomachines. The results were published in The Journal of the American Chemical Society, 12 June, vol 113, p 5131.
Jumping to Conclusions
In a previous edition I mentioned how an uncle jumped to the wrong conclusion about cryonics, assuming that one would be revived as an old man. Unfortunately he jumped again, and this time won't give his reasoning.
The conclusion this time is that hoary chestnut "cryonics is a scam." Hopefully the reasoning behind this conclusion may one day be found - before it is too late for him.
Our Cornish Scene this month was not a part of old Cornwall, but a relatively modern building less than ten years old. It is Bruce's Bar, Porthtowan, where Karen, my previous girlfriend, met her current companion, who was working there as a doorman. It was also the scene of much Cornish insobriety and mayhem, until it closed recently for financial reasons. There was a rumour that the building was to be demolished to make way for flats, but at the time of writing the latest news is that it is still up for sale for a little under a quarter of a million dollars. It is includes a large bar, amenity rooms and swimming pool, together with living accommodation.
Human Genome Funds Wasted on Lawyers
According to a report in New Scientist on 7 September, delegates at the British Association for Advancement of Science's conference at Plymouth, heard a tirade by Walter Bodmer against his American colleagues. He is president of HUGO, the Human Genome Organisation, an alliance of scientists coordinating the charting of the human genome. He said that the Americans on the project were proceeding at half pace because they were spending large quantities of time and their grant money on lawyers trying to get patent claims in on particular gene sequences. The application fees alone were costing $30,000 per month.
Mr Norman Carey, a consultant in "intellectual property" at Celltech, said that the time and expenditure was to no purpose anyway. Patents have to be novel and have a demonstrable industrial use. American researchers filing patent specifications for arbitrary sequences of DNA cannot possibly have any idea as to the possible use of the sequences. He called for the US patent office to ban all patents on DNA sequences, which will "put a stop to this kind of excess."
As the human genome project advances, there will be huge opportunities for health care. Scientists will be able to pin point natural biochemicals and the DNA sequences for making them. But the pharmaceutical companies will have great difficulty in obtaining monopoly rights on any of them.
And I would query if someone did obtain such monopoly rights, would their lawyers attempt to sue every person whose body was making these chemicals naturally as infringing the patents?
I can quite understand the enormous advances that will come form the human genome project, and I find it quit appalling that time and money is being wasted this way. Lives will be saved and lifespans prolonged by the results, and if the results come later rather than earlier lives will be lost by default.
I rather suspect that Vice President of the U.S. Dan Quayle may agree, as the next item shows.
U.S. Has Too Many Lawyers - According to its Vice President
An item in the Financial Times late in August detailed how the U.S. Vice President, Dan Quayle, delivered a drubbing to the American Bar Association for wasting the country's talent and resources, at their annual meeting.
Including indirect costs, Mr Quayle said that the U.S. spends $300 billion on civil litigation each year. Nearly 70% of the world's lawyers practise in the United States. He described the situation as "a self inflicted competitive disadvantage."
Mr Talbot D'Alemberte, the new ABA chairman, was reported as rejecting Mr Quayle's assertions as "patently absurd".
Mr Quayle, who is himself a lawyer, put forward more than 50 proposals for reform, many of which have been discussed for some time but have been rejected through professional self- interests of various groups. Most talked about this time were proposals for "loser pays all" in litigation, together with limitations for punitive damages. If an offence has been committed, then the criminal justice system should deal with it.
The paper said that one of his other proposals attracted less attention, but could reduce a lot of the fees achieved by the professionals involved in litigation. That is to require both sides to produce documents before the trial, but subject to limitations preventing the procedure being used to stop businesses from functioning by wasting their time or raising their fee costs.
The paper concluded by saying that Mr Quayle raised the hackles of both judges and lawyers.
More on Intellectual property
The Financial Times carried a further article on intellectual property on 19 September. It detailed how the National Consumer Council had doubts as to whether more legal protection for intellectual property would stimulate research and development.
They point out that it may deter innovation rather than encourage it. A lack of cross fertilisation of ideas would mean higher prices for consumers and would delay standardisation. It could also cause economic loss to developing countries.
They call for protection to be carefully set at the optimum level to encourage innovation.
They cite the pharmaceutical and computer software industries as cases where protection disadvantages consumers by raising prices, but indicate that they are aware of the problem of realising development costs.
Rogue Lawyer Finds Loophole for Criminals
Surprised shopkeepers in some of Britain's inner cities have had a shock when they tried to open their premises in the morning. They found their stock pushed to the back of the shop the locks changed, and someone else trading there. On contacting the police, they learned that there was no action the police could take.
A solicitor appeared on television explaining that a member of her profession who was very skilled in the law must have been advising the criminals. Apparently, unless the police catch them in the act of breaking into the premises, they can do nothing over what is regarded in law as a civil matter. Delays and court costs mean that the trader can't get the criminals evicted for several weeks. Of course as his income has stopped he may also be unable to pay solicitors to act on his behalf. Indeed he could himself face legal action for not paying his local taxes and other outgoings.
Of course, all this assumes that the trader is an axe- kneeling law sycophant. He could, of course, himself adopt the same tactics to recover his premises.
One trader did, in fact, nail re-enforced boarding across the front of his shop preventing any access, whilst the criminals were inside. They eventually left through a back window.
Row over Professional Fees Paid to Companies
The Financial Times of 28 September carried an article on a row brewing over the professional fees paid by companies to their auditors. Mr John Redwood, the British Government's corporate affairs minister, is introducing regulations that require companies to quote the fees paid to their auditors, and to separate the fees paid for the statutory audit and other work. Mr Redwood points out that a firm of auditors who gets a very high fee income from a client is unlikely to risk souring the relationship by delivering a qualified audit report to shareholders. "True and fair" is what shareholders like if they are not to panic and sell their stocks. This has been borne out by recent company failures after unblemished audits in their latest accounts.
On the other hand, Mr Giles Wintle, chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, says that he believed the new rules were unnecessary. "It is one more piece of information that is not particularly useful." he is quoted as saying in the paper.
I recall reading a letter some years back from a disgruntled shareholder pointing out that a company's auditors received more fee income than the shareholders did in dividend for a particular year. He did mention the ratio, but I forget what it was - 2:1 possibly!
Programme for European Traffic with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety
For lovers of acronyms, that spells out PROMETHEUS, so say its originators. Well even though their spelling leaves a lot to the imagination, the programme doesn't. Virtually every new idea imaginable to safer transport is being investigated by the project, which started in 1985. It includes
Advanced systems to enable drivers to see through fog and to see pedestrians outside the range of headlights.
Collision avoidance systems that take control of the car in emergencies.
Equipment to monitor driver behaviour and warn in the event of drowsiness
amongst many others.
I must add my comment that surely it is more sensible to be where you want to be instead of always wanting to be somewhere else! How many journeys are really necessary? I have nothing against recreational travel for those who like it, but surely people must realise it would be more fun if the journeys weren't so irksome. Business people frequently make long trips to meetings when the post, telephone or fax would do just as well.
ICN progress on Virazole
ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., the drug company well known for its positive attitude to life extension, announced in its 31 May interim statement progress with its antiviral drug Virazole. It received a positive review in an article in The Lancet. A study by Stanford University researchers on 4 July in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that seriously ill children receiving Virazole for a lung complaint needed less time on intensive care than those on placebo. ICN have submitted this study to the FDA to support their plea for the drug to be made available to those on ventilator support.
Sex Scandal Hits UK Legal Profession
In the news early in October was the resignation of the U.K.'s Director of Public Prosecutions after he was caught by the police "kerb crawling" in King's Cross, one of London's notorious areas for prostitution.
The Daily Mirror reported on 4 October that some judges were known to fine a woman for soliciting prostitution, and then give her the money to pay the fine as well as her usual fee a few nights later. Well known prostitutes frequently claim to have members of the professions and other authority figures amongst their clients.
A psychological report said that people in authority usually have a higher than normal sex drive, and the thought of the consequences if they are caught in sexually compromising situations gives them sadomasochistic pleasure.
My comment is that it is irrational for people to be removed from office because of prostitution per se. But the fact that they think that they can behave like this themselves yet are justified in punishing others* for doing likewise is a very good reason for removal. (*Or being part of a system that earns its members fee income from cases about punishing people involved with the activity.) Unfortunately double standards is not the reason why society removes them, merely a collective hang up about sex. The authorities would actually prefer a greater spread of AIDS etc to licensing brothels.
There is an increasing movement for licensed, and therefore health controlled, brothels in the UK, as exist in other European countries.
I must say that it gives an interesting insight into the collective mind of the authorities that consenting adults can cause each other physical pain and possible fatal injury for money (boxing) yet it is illegal for them to give each other physical pleasure for money.
Bristol Myers Sign Agreement to Increase Supply of Taxol
In their second quarter report of 1991, Bristol Myers Squibb announced a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and related departments which will lead to a greatly increased supply of Taxol, a new anti-cancer drug. The company is at present developing the drug in cooperation with the National Cancer Institute.
The drug is a natural product produced in Pacific Yew trees, taxus brevifolia, growing on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service. In return for greater supplies of the bark, that yields the drug, Bristol Myers Squibb will provide funds for the government to research the ecology of the trees.
Bristol Myers Squibb will also research as to whether taxol can be obtained from renewable parts of the tree, such as the leaves and twigs. It will also investigate artificial production of the drug by partial or total synthesis. The process for extracting it from the bark is expensive and time consuming, with more than 50 separate steps involved. Although the yews aren't an endangered species, they grow slowly and are not very big. A 200 year old tree will be only 40 feet tall.
Bristol Myers Squibb was selected by the National Cancer Institute from an open field to be its partner in the work. It was chosen because it is a world leader in anti cancer medicines.
People who wish to find out more about taxol or clinical trials of the drug should contact the National Cancer Institute's public information lines, 1-800-4- CANCER.
Prescription Drug Changed to OTC Boosts Schering Plough Second Quarter Results
High Over the Counter (OTC) sales by Schering Plough were led by Gyne- Lotrimin, a vaginal yeast antifungal preparation. This had recently been changed from a prescription only medicine to an OTC product. Sales of foot care products also rose, as the same pharmaceutical is now available OTC for athlete's foot, under the name Lotrimin-AF.
The company expects earnings per share to increase by 18 to 20 per cent for the year.
Glaxo Rises Sharply on News of Share Split
One of the U.K.'s largest pharmaceutical companies, Glaxo PLC, rose sharply on news that its shares were to be reduced in value from 50 pence to 25 pence and the number of shares in circulation to be doubled. This is despite continued bickering between it and Astra of Sweden who make a similar product to Glaxo's best selling ulcer drug Zantac.
The company invests its profits in various ways and uses the return to fund its research programme, which is one of the biggest in the industry.
Anti emetics such as Zofran are one of the company's leading lines of products, and Zofran has now been accepted by the authorities in 48 countries. Anti emetics are used to cushion side effects in cancer drug treatments, or chemotherapy.
The company now has 37% of its sales in the United States, and considers its recent good performance to have been attributable to market expansion. It now feels that it has saturated that avenue for growth, but that its spectacular progress will continue with a string of important new products that are nearing the point in their development cycles that they can be unveiled.
News of these products will be brought to readers of this column in due course.
I bought shares in Glaxo because it was a science based company investing heavily in research. I first heard this investment advice in a science fiction novel by Fred Hoyle Occam's Ride when aliens crash landing on Earth used it as a money making scheme to build up an industrial base from which to repair their ship.
Although I have had Glaxo shares since 1987, I bought the bulk of my investment more recently, in March 1990, since which date they have nearly doubled in price.
At the risk of boring diligent readers I will repeat, briefly, what I consider to be a very important point relating to cryonics and investment.
This sort of performance must happen in science based industries for the industrial base to be built from which revivals can take place.
If this performance is not achieved in science based industries, there will be no revivals.
Therefore suspension funds investing in science based industries will never be used for technical reasons if these industries don't do extremely well.
Therefore those investing will never live to regret it if putting all their investment into research orientated science based industries was the wrong choice.
I am still not convinced that I am putting this point over properly, as I still see articles appearing recommending other forms of investment and even life insurance.
WOW! Now You Can Get Skin Cancer on your Buttocks!
An extraordinary article in The Sunday Mirror of 29 September described how U.S. scientists have developed a material, Tanex, which lets sun tanning rays through. Swim suits, umbrellas and hats have already been made. Tanex clothes could help people get all over tans whilst walking, shopping or pic-nicking outdoors, says the paper. The makers claim their product lets tanning rays through but block "harmful" ultra violet B.
I would comment that any form of tan is the skin's reaction to a burn by "rays" and is likely to cause premature ageing. It is up to fashion setters to steer people away from the "tanned is beautiful" image.
Alcor Dinner Hears Talk of Neuron Tearing in Suspension Patients
September's issue of Periastron, Dr Thomas Donaldson's science and technology newsletter, carried a report on a lecture given at Alcor's fundraising dinner. Slides were shown showing the small-scale effects on freezing and storage on brain structure. This included very widespread tearing of nerve connections by the formation of ice crystals. Although disappointing, this work does give us a much more specific statement of the problems to be solved by future revivals of past patients, said Dr Donaldson.
The fundraising dinner attracted slight attendance, and Mr Carlos Mondragón is reported to have stated the sum raised was $1,500.
Also work of major importance was proposed by a cryonicist working with an official institution. This would require $15,000 to fund it. This is because the institution will not allow one cent of its money to be spent on cryonics. Full details are in Periastron. I am being somewhat uninformative as the person concerned prefers that his name is not printed in The Immortalist because of the risk of professional victimisation.
Dr Donaldson said that it could be dangerous to expect establishment science to come up with all the answers for cryonicists. People needing to carry favour with professions and institutions are against immortality, even in the Society for Gerontology. Nanotechnology could grow within the establishment, but it could just result in faster and better electronics, with no single biological repair device. He says that cryonicists must fund cryonics-specific scientific research such as the above proposal.
Personally I think this is a little hard on the human race. What about the heads of companies like ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc and Deprenyl Research Ltd both who have given interviews to the press that are favourable to life extension? Possibly trade and commerce rather than the professional centres of excellence will provide the funding and impetus that immortalism needs.
The newsletter also included several other articles about work done on neurons and the brain. Points of particular interest that were raised included the question of whether misconceptions of probability compared to a strict mathematical basis were "hard wired" into our brains as these misconceptions actually gave us better survival value. Also it was suggested that a greater understanding of how the brain works could eventually lead to a greater acceptance of cryonics if it could show that future revival was more than informed speculation.
Dr Donaldson also printed another of Douglas Skrecky's articles on alternatives to cryonics. This time he didn't add much comment himself but invited readers to send in their own views on the subject.
Periastron PO Box 2365, Sunnyvale, California 94087. Subscriptions cost $2.50 per issue. If you pay for many issues in advance, you avoid any possible price rises. If the newsletter does not continue for any reason, unused subscriptions will be refunded with interest!
Our Cornish Scene this month was a distant view of New Charlotte's engine house at Chapel Coombe, which is a few miles to the east of my home. The mine was opened in 1806, when it was known as North Towan, because its developers hoped to exploit the same rich copper lode what was yielding good profits at Wheal Towan. However, it was disappointing and was soon closed. It was reopened again in the 1830s, when it was called New Charlotte after Great Wheal Charlotte, another nearby mine. It was renamed again in 1877, as Charlotte United.
Comment on "Neither Red Nor Dead"
I was very interested to read Mr Peter Christiansen's article on page 8 of October's The Immortalist. Over- legislation is a problem that is a serious threat to anyone wanting to make death optional, whether by cryonics, life extension, downloading or otherwise.
Although Mr Christiansen said that the Texas University study had got it wrong by suggesting that the decline of America was due to its over preponderance of lawyers, he went on to say that the problem was too many laws.
The complications of law are often absurd: for example here if you rob a house before a certain hour in the evening it is a less serious offence than if the crime is perpetrated later on. I think that virtually everyone would agree with laws against murder, theft and fraud, reckless driving and other behaviour likely to endanger others, but these are only a tiny tip of the iceberg of the whole legal system.
Whilst individuals and institutions can profit from a complex legal system, it will continue to grow, exponentially as Mr Christiansen says.
The only way in my view this can be altered, is to use the democratic system to introduce a simplified system of law based on the suppression of murder etc., and leave citizens to sort out their difficulties over things like wills, estates, divorce, like ordinary sensible people.
If people are treated as adults in general they behave as adults. It is so often the case in divorce, for example, that once a lawyer gets involved then the transaction becomes aggressive and bitter. The lawyer after all stands to get more fees for himself and his colleagues if he exhorts his clients to get all they can get for themselves from the situation. He knows this subconsciously even if his actions aren't consciously based on this criterion. In the UK, it has been suggested that lawyers can say to female clients: "Behave so badly that your husband hits you, then we can go to the court and take more from him. It is worth a night in hospital for some money isn't it?"
The system could be changed by altering it so that individuals and institutions find it hard to profit from it. Although in the UK 30% of the legislature is composed of lawyers and allied professions, (A disproportional ratio of the electorate), this still means that 70% aren't. Presumably a similar ratio in favour of non-lawyers exists in the US, and, of course, there are maverick lawyers themselves, like Vice President Dan Quayle, who see the damage the system is doing their country.
In fact, it is probably the maverick lawyers who we the citizens of the world must turn to for help. To help the US achieve proper value for money from its health care costs. To channel its talent back into avenues of creation and production. To create the industrial base needed for cryonic revivals to take place.
Failure to take this course could result in the US declining into a post industrial world of service industries, leaving the scientific advances of the 21st century to take place in other lands and other cultures.
The Hunger shown on British television
To celebrate the festival of Halloween, British television normally has a showing of some horror films. This year the David Bowie Catherine Deneuve film The Hunger took pride of place. The story, set in modern New York, featured some vampires who crossed paths with some anti-aging scientists. Catherine Deneuve played the chief vampire, and the legend had been modified so that her victims aged rapidly but did not actually die, they just became layabouts in coffins of suitably horrific appearance. It appeared that she was seeking a human whom she could vampirise without the human ageing rapidly. She did this by trial and error and by the time honoured method, and kept a collection of rotting live corpses in caskets in the attic of her New York mansion.
Unfortunately the film had nothing to say about anti-aging, except that it tended to equate it with vampirism and therefore it was bad.
The concept of people unable to die yet living on in rotten decaying bodies reinforces the nightmare that people have about cryonics and life extension - being perpetuated in a horrific existence that they are unable to end. As I have said before, this tends to be further reinforced by the medical profession who often prescribe mutilating surgery just to gain a few months low quality life.
In order to get life extension and cryonic suspension accepted by the public we must ram home that this is NOT what we recommend or represent. People will be revived in young healthy bodies, or they will not be revived at all.
Incidentally, in the film the typical attitude of the medical profession was shown in a scene in The Hunger when David Bowie's character, suffering accelerated ageing, attended the geriatric experimental hospital. He was told to wait 15 minutes, and the consultant was shown telling the security man "He's a harmless crank. Just leave him alone and he'll probably wander off in a while." In fact, we see him age from 30 to 90 during the day he sat in the waiting room. However in fact that particular consultant ends up having a lesbian affair (to the tune of Delibes' Lakme flower duet) with the vampire, resulting in her vampirisation and early demise by the time the film reaches a confused gory end.
Like many modern films, this one has an irrational jumpy storyline which doesn't help it as entertainment, in my view.
Massacre in Rome Shown on British TV
The war film Massacre in Rome is unusual inasmuch as it tells of a World War Two atrocity from the point of view of the National Socialists who perpetrated the offence.
A German patrol in Rome, shortly before its fall to the Americans, was ambushed by Italian Partisans. The German governor of Rome ordered 50 Italians to be killed in reprisal for every German killed.
The main action of the film was the debate between the German troops who were ordered to carry this out and their interaction with the Roman Catholic church. They all realised that everyone carrying out the atrocity was likely to be punished for war crimes, as it was obvious by then that the allies would win the war. The BBC was already listing wanted war criminals in its broadcasts to Europe.
Richard Burton played a prominent German, and he represented the philosophy that "the machinery is in action - there is nothing anyone can do now to change the outcome. I must obey orders." Such "virtues" are, of course, regarded as praiseworthy in any army, and I would imagine would be so today amongst the Todtpolizei or FDA ranged against the Life Extension Foundation.
Another highlight of the film was the attitude of the Pope, who delivered a brilliant axe kneeling encyclical to the people of Rome asking them not to retaliate for the National Socialist atrocity. One of the Germans had contacted a Roman Catholic priest and asked him to try and get the Pope to intercede with the Germans on behalf of the people put down for reprisal execution. According to the film, the Pope replied that the National Socialism was the world's only hope against atheist Communism, and therefore good Catholics should support Germany.
As both National Socialism and Communism fade into the mists of history, I predict that future generations will find it hard telling the difference between them.
Our Cornish Scene this month was Garras Wharf, Truro, in the early 19th century. The ship is the Mary Barrow which sank in 1836. Mr Acton's drawing is from a photograph which he believes to have been taken around 1800. The use of Truro as a port has never declined to zero. They still receive shiploads of timber there from Scandinavia. (I know it is shown as being inland on the map, but there is deep water access via its rivers.)
Of interest to those worried about dying whilst alone, is a British company called Aid-Call PLC. It may be contacted via its publicity agents International Communications and Data PLC, 29 Corsham Street, London N1 6DR. Its product is a device that can summon aid if a button is pressed on a wrist watch type unit. An example shown is an old lady having fallen down the stairs and unable to move.
Clearly this equipment will be developed further and even now it would be technically possible to have a device that sends out an alarm message if its wearer's heart stops beating normally. Indeed, New Scientist of 23 November details a $100 watch that contains a tiny electrocardiograph and warns its owner of trouble. It was designed by Kenneth Matsumura, of the Alin Foundation, in Berkley, California.
Preserving Important Film Records.
Also in New Scientist of 23 November is a device for archivists. Video tape is ideal as colours don't fade as with film, but as electronic standards vary relatively frequently it may be that in future times players won't exist for videos recorded today. The new device is patented by Thames Television, and it uses the 35mm film standard, which is claimed to be stable. However pictures aren't recorded on each frame, but the electronic waveform of each video picture. Colour information is in this waveform, but it can be filmed in black and white. Therefore there is no colour fade. A sensor in a standard telecine machine converts the waveform back into a picture.
My comment is that this is undoubtedly expensive, and with talk already in the air of massive solid state stores on the horizon and the high reliability of modern video cassette recorders, it should be possible to load pictures from VHS cassettes into solid state modules. [I don't mean EPROM stores, I mean nano-stores, probably the first application of nanotechnology.]
Marion Merrel Dow Increase Anti Allergy Sales
In their quarterly report dated 30 September 1991 Marion Merrel Dow announced strong increases in sales and earnings, and the launch of Seldane D, their antihistamine mixed with a decongestant for rhinal allergies. Their range of cardiovascular medicines also increased in sales by 20% despite fierce competition from rival brands.
Their range of products designed to help people give up addiction to smoking their lungs with tobacco, has done well, Nicorette rising 21% from a year earlier.
The company have also consolidated their financial interests, and paid off holders of Contingent Value Rights which were created when it merged with Marion Laboratories. Part of this process included forming a separate management organisation for their Canadian operations, which are expected to be expanded in future. They are already the fifth largest pharmaceutical company in that country.
Another Ozone Idea
New Scientist of 30 November included a report by John Gribbin on work by Ralph Cicerone and Scott Elliott of the University of California at Irvine, and Richard Turce of the University of California at Los Angeles. They propose injecting 50,000 tonnes of ethane or propane into the stratosphere.
What is interesting about this report is not the method so much as the final paragraph, which I reproduce in full:
Cicerone and colleagues sat that although their scheme is not practicable today it holds out the hope that future generations, armed with a better understanding of the mechanism of ozone depletion may be able to repair some of the damage that we are doing.
This, of course, interesting in that it shares with cryonics the idea of placing a reliance on future science. Maybe these people would be receptive to the cryonics idea too.
Axe Kneeling - The Movie
Possibly the Roger Corman film The Undead (US, 1956) could win the accolade as the ultimate in axe- kneeling movies. For it ends in the heroine escaping from her rescuers to run to the site of execution and willing submit to having her head lopped off!
Maybe it was this movie that gave rise to the concept of "The Axe Kneeler" used in the immortalist movement to denigrate those willing to accept the status quo. If not, it certainly could have!
The plot is related to the re-incarnation myth, and the heroine is a 1950s prostitute who is transported back in time to a previous existence as a witch about to be executed for witchcraft, but with her 20th century knowledge. She uses her 20th century seduction methods to escape from her jailors, but it is later suggested to her that if she cheats her fate of being beheaded, when she dies of old age she will never be reincarnated again. No reason is given for this surprising statement, except for the introduction into the film script of "the devil" (The Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars terminology) who rubs his hands with glee at the thought of "chaos introduced by changing the past." The only person who seems vaguely sensible is the heroine's middle ages lover who does his best (but fails) to prevent her kneeling to the axeman.
Massacre in Rome Addendum
Further to my comments on the film Massacre in Rome in a previous issue, I was interested to read in a recent issue of Life Extension Report that the foundation is adopting tactics against the FDA that were used by the British against the Nazis towards the end of the last war. In the film, it was explained how the BBC broadcast names of Nazi war criminals that the Allies proposed to punish when the war was over. The purpose of these broadcasts were to discourage the National Socialists perpetrating any more atrocities by putting pressure on the individuals who would be carrying them out.
The Life Extension Report has named a couple of FDA investigators and has alleged offenses they have committed in the name of maintaining the status quo in respect to ageing and death. It appears that individual legal action has been taken against these men, and the obvious hint is that more such cases will follow.
In the meantime Alcor reports in the latest issue of Cryonics that it has won $90,000 damages against the County of Riverside in respect of property loss and personal injury resulting from the raid in connection with the Dora Kent case.
Unfortunately this only puts pressure on the collective, and the sum, however welcome to Alcor and its lawyers, is trivial in respect of the county authorities' total income. However had this sum had been won against individuals, it would have really hurt and would set a precedent that immortalists are just as important as any other group within society and demand equal respect. They are not petty criminals who can be pushed around at will.
Alpha One Initiates Phase III Trials of Thymosin for Hepatitis C
In a press release dated 16 September Alpha One Biomedicals Inc announced phase III trials of Thymosin for the serious liver disease hepatitis C. The trials will be based on a mixture of Thymosin with interferon Alpha, IntronA made by Schering Plough.
The overall remission rate in hepatitis C patients with IntronA alone is only 25%. The purpose of the trials is to determine whether this can be improved by the addition of thymosin to the treatment.
In addition Alpha One will sponsor an "open label" trial of thymosin alone to treat hepatitis C. It will be conducted by Dr Karen L. Lindsay (UCLA), Eugene R. Schiff (University of Miami) and Milton G. Mutchnick (Wayne State University, Detroit.)
Dr Vincent F. Simon, president and CEO of Alpha One co-authored a paper in Hepatology (Sept) with Dr Muitchnick on the use of thymosin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis. Dr Mutchnick stated "Thymosin Alpha One was about twice as effective as IntronA in treating chronic hepatitis B, and also has the advantage of lacking adverse side effects at doses that were effective in causing hepatitis B remission in 75% of the treated patients."
Thymosin Alpha One is a Washington DC based company quoted on NASDQ (ALBM) and its public flotation was supported and promoted by the Life Extension Foundation.
IntronA is a trade mark of the Schering-Plough Corporation.
Schering Plough Report Fundamental Good Outlook for Industry
In their third quarter report Schering Plough have used similar arguments to those I have been using in these columns for some time.
They say that a population with a higher proportion of older people coupled with advances in pharmacology and biotechnology will make for a rapidly expanding market in new products.
However, Robert P. Luciano, Chairman and CEO, warned investors that the smaller biotechnology companies may have difficulty with cash flow and marketing resources to get their products to the market place.
However, the larger companies (such as Schering Plough) no longer have any compelling need for "consolidation", as most have "critical mass" in research and marketing finance to succeed.
Schering Plough is not a one product or even three product company. It has a whole range of products that work in combination to make up their pharmaceutical sales.
As previously reported in this column, they are the first to get a vaginal yeast treatment, Gyne-Lotrimin, available over the counter. This had quadrupled its sales! This shows that an increasingly medically literate public prefer to treat themselves as opposed to submit to medical examination and the opinions of authority figures. Therefore, when it is safe to do so, more POMs are likely to be released to the free market in future.
The company has also stated that it has built up relationships with doctors in the countries formerly known as the USSR and plan to offer products in that area as soon as possible.
Eli Lilley Report 16% Growth
The Eli Lilley company report 16% growth over the third quarter, which is on top of a 5% growth over the same period last year.
Their report detailed complaints against the Senate Select Committee in Aging, headed by Democrat David H. Pryor.
The committee produced a report that suggested drugs were overpriced, and called for state control of drug prices. The company alleged that the report was totally unscientific and was purely political.
Lilley points out that the report makes political points by misleadingly using short term data. Over the past three decades, though, U.S. drugs fell from 15.5% of the total health care bill to 8.2% by 1990.
However if you separate Eli Lilley's prices out from the rest, they only rose 3.4% 1986-1990.
The report also argues that U.S. consumers pay more than Canadians and Europeans. However Lilley point out that overseas prices are set by governments. Also, there are currency fluctuations and local taxes to be taken into consideration.
They admit that research based pharmaceutical companies receive somewhat high prices in the US than abroad for certain products. But Lilley received the highest price for six of its 10 top-selling pharmaceutical outside the US.
When one takes into consideration the results of research that drug profits pay for, the US consumer is getting a good deal, say the company. Innovative products help people live longer and live better.
The research based pharmaceutical industry also provides economic advantages for the economy as a whole in employment and balance of payments surplus.
Democrat Pryor's price control proposal would stunt research and remove these advantages.
Now - Lunar Burial
Chat of 9 November 1991 had a short item to the effect that the Heartpia Project Company of Japan is planning a Lunar cemetery in connection with the Japanese National Space development Agency. They are already taking advance booking for burials there.
The same magazine also carried a short article about working conditions in 2010. They suggest a working week of 20 hrs and a salary of $52,000/yr. They don't state what the costs of living and local taxes will be then!
Periastron Calls for Mummification Research
Dr Thomas Donaldson in the December issue of his science newsletter Periastron mentioned the interest in improving embalming techniques for use for immortalist purposes. He said he has seen interest amongst cryonicists and at least one non-cryonicist in this subject. He calls for serious and prolonged experiments in this field.
The issue also contains a number of articles detailing the current status of memory research with particular emphasis synapses, vision, astrocytes, neurons, and learning. An update on RU-486, the abortion drug also implicated with life extending properties and a use of nanotechnology in genome sequencing follow.
Cathy - Queen of Chaos
The science of chaos theory is characterised by the suggestion that the flutter of a butterfly's wing can be amplified into a hurricane on the other side of the word by the chaotic laws that govern the weather.
Another example of this is one of the scenarios presented at the Kennedy Rape Trial (at the time of writing the trial isn't over, so I don't know which scenario the jury will accept. Their conclusion is irrelevant to this item.) This scenario is the one where Mr Smith has mutually consenting sex with the woman, but she makes up the rape story because he calls her by the name "Cathy". That one utterance develops into a bonanza for lawyers, hours of television entertainment for the world, and possibly several wrecked lives. A tiny mistake is amplified into the expenditure of millions of dollars and a massive vortex of commercial activity around the world.
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