Letter in Longevity Report 18
Mike Zehse sent in a few letters and an amazing number of newspaper cuttings to Longevity Report over issues 18 to 39, inclusive. They are grouped together below.
Letter in Longevity Report 18
I hope you noticed the Star article on Deprenyl amongst the cuttings that I sent you recently. Many thanks for Longevity Report no 17. Re the Status Report - as I mentioned before my own copy of Longevity Report is always passed on to someone who might conceivably be interested. I heartily agree with the astute judgement of Miss F. Davis (para 4), tho' I wish I had a way with money instead! (My way with words ain't marketable : wish it was.) [Are you sure - have you tried? I have heard that many successful writers receive many rejection slips before they strike it rich. - ed]
Can A.N. Blackall substantiate his allegation that Hydergine has been unofficially blacklisted by the NHS? I can vouch for the rapacity of some chemists:
I used to obtain Ritalin on a private prescription and paid a few pounds in Boots for the pharmacist to dispense it. Eventually the manufacturers ceased to distribute this drug except on a "named patient" basis - where the doctor has to negotiate each individual allocation with the manufacturer. The pharmacist in Boots told me he couldn't get them anymore though I might be able to get the last remaining stock from another chemist. I trudged around several chemists until I found one who had some Ritalin. This was an up market pharmacy in Baker Street. The smug manager informed me that as he only had a few left he intended to charge me #80 for 80 pills, that's #1 per tablet! I said I thought this was a bit excessive when I'd only been paying three or four pounds in Boots. "Take it or leave it!" was his response.
[I looked it up. Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant indicated for functional behavioral problems in children (minimal brain dysfunction, hyperkinesis) and narcolepsy. (Uncontrollably dropping into a deep sleep). Both were treated in my schooldays at public (ie private) schools by hitting the child with a piece of wood, usually bamboo, until he pulled himself together and behaved himself. Those suffering from narcolepsy in Latin classes received their treatment in front of the class. As far as I know no prescription was required for the bamboo.
To be serious, the contra-indications and effects are worrying, especially in view of Mr Zehse's subsequent case history. Included in a long list are angina pectoris, tachyarrythmias, and dependency on drugs or alcohol. Extreme caution in prescription is urged, as the drug can cause dependence, abnormal behaviour and frank psychotic episodes. The drug is on the Home Office list. Frankly I think the pharmacist who tried to rip off Mr Zehse was in reality doing him a favour. If readers refer to his previous accounts of his escapades, when the "abnormal behaviour" appears to present itself, and his account of his subsequent heart condition leading to surgery, then they may conclude that these events have been aggravated by his time on Ritalin. In short, based on the correspondence I have received, it looks like a promising life afflicted by Ritalin, and I am not surprised it is no longer manufactured. Mr Zehse may like to have a word with the doctor who first prescribed it. - ed] What a depressing letter from Susan Blackmore. It's not even cogent.
The sanctity of ground rents: I suppose England has got continuity of tradition tho' I'm not sure I'd rely on continuance continuing. [Property ownership could be beyond anyone resurrected from cryonic suspension because although artifacts such as computers, and the equipment to perform the resurrections, will be dirt cheap the price of property will be set by the number of people wanting it. Therefore if there is some way they can take property with them this ought to be tried. -ed]
Can you explain your jest re Dr James Robertson? [Surely you have heard of James Robertson Justice, who plays the bad tempered surgeon and similar characters? - ed]
Mr John Taylor said "I'd rather not be brought back than find I'm not the person I thought I was." How would he know?
I have an idea re the membrane hypothesis of ageing, page 6. If one were to topically apply mashed banana to the scalp every night and morning, would this have a salutary effect? Where on earth does Steve Gallant consult all those esoteric references?
Linda Chamberlain is merely updating Pascal's Wager. The French mathematician and philosopher, when taxed with his decision to invest faith in God, retorted that it was a worthwhile gamble. If wrong, it would have been a harmless diversion: if right, he would gain the possibility of eternal life.
I don't blame Mike Darwin from changing his name from Federowicz. What a disgusting moniker. If I ever met someone with such an obscene name I ... [Karen insisted I edit this bit out - ed] ... I'd helpfully suggest an immediate name change. I suppose I shall have to contemplate a name change myself if names of foreign extraction are to be verboten. [It was suggested by Rita Aero in The Complete Book of Longevity (regretfully not available from us) that those whose names begin with the letters S to Z have more health problems than those whose names begin with A to R, and the former perished 12 years earlier than the average. People with strange names often do badly at school, and are persecuted by the teachers and fellow pupils. Ms Aero suggests that an unusual name may be life shortening. Mr Zehse makes lots of jokes about contributors' names which I usually edit out. -ed]
Bad Karma (redacted by R.E. Lane): Evil and negative people don't usually have much of a conscience. I'm not convinced that people always get their just desserts. [Quite so, but the longer they live the more chance there is that they'd get the just desserts. - ed]
Re Benjamin Best's letter: There's an interesting article on body water in The Sciences, journal of the NY Academy of Sciences. I've just sent this to Mike Price and will ask him to send it to you to send to Mr Best. $35,000 seems a lot for PCI. I have to endorse Mr Best's defusion of your enthusiasm re Mensa (why are you displaying it?) [Exercise for the readership - is it enthusiasm or satirisation? -ed] In general, Mensans tend to be (like me) self selecting failures: people who can't hack it in real life and use Mensa membership as a psychological crutch, although there are exceptions. Symbolic dexterity in IQ tests doesn't necessarily equate with developing intelligence in any real or meaningful case. On the rare occasion when I have attended a Mensa meeting I'm often repelled by an aura of simpering self-congratulation and complacency: based on the great achievement of joining Mensa. Theoretically 2% of the population would be able to score at or above the entry level for Mensa. I think the current British membership is about 38,000 out of a potential 1.2 million. (2% of 60 million UK population approx.)
Perhaps Steve Whitrow should submit his latest screed to Running magazine, tho' they might cavil at the brand names.
The latest Lancet reports a 30% differential study of second fatal heart attacks, between those taking fatty fish oils after a first heart attack and those not taking the fish after a first heart attack. A startling statistic! Both cohorts adopted a sensible low-fat diet and were otherwise matched. Fish eating seemed to prove its worth. I'm reporting this from radio news - I haven't read the article.
What's the Foresight Institute? Chris Peterson: My grandmother's name was Peterson. I sent a recent Times technology article (Sept 14) on Nanotechnology and "picotechnology" to Garret Smyth and have asked him to forward copies to you and Chris. [The Foresight Institute, of Box 61058, Palo Alto, California 94306, USA publish a newsletter about Nanotechnology. It was founded to further the ideas of Eric Drexler, writer of Engines of Creation. They don't state a proper price for their newsletter, but ask for donations in excess of $25 per year. They stress that they require substantial donations from residents of overseas countries to pay postage and the hassle of sending overseas. A lot of money appears to have been put into producing a professional looking newsletter, unless someone "does it at work." -ed]
In regard to the siting of cryonic facilities, the greenhouse effect may cause sea levels to surge: London and Los Angeles may be flooded. Evidently, the possibility of drastic climatological change needs to be borne in mind.
The Voyager probe recently confirmed the state of Triton, satellite of Neptune, as being composed largely of frozen nitrogen. An ideal place for a major Mizar facility? Or perhaps the original occupants of the outer planets are already there, frozen in situ, awaiting resurrection?
As I have written before, the difficulties of a serious rise in sea levels would be apparent to the individual and to cryonics groups long before the actual water did any harm. The economic and politic disruption would result in much tighter government control around the world, and it may well be impossible to practise any form of immortalism. Even if direct legal intervention was slight, loss of personal freedom through vastly increased direct and indirect taxation and inflation would be substantial.
Yet I am more optimistic than most. It is notable that some people predict heating, and others cooling. They can't both be right, and the sum total may well be just life as we know it going on for the few hundred more years needed to develop the nanotechnology that will make immortalism possible. After that, the Earth can do what it likes. If we don't like it, nanotechnology may give us the power to change it, or alternatively leave the planet altogether.
It amuses me how conservationists like to preserve the status quo regardless of how sensible it is. Here they are mad keen on preserving heathlands or downs, consisting of heather and gorse. I am happy with that as I like heather and gorse, but this environment only exists because earlier generations cut down the trees that used to grow here. It could be regarded as the result of their "pillaging the environment". The atmosphere of this entire planet could be regarded as a polluted one on the basis that before life arose we had a Jovian type ammonia and methane atmosphere. This was changed (polluted?) to the present nitrogen and oxygen one by the action of life.
Burial on Triton is a nice idea, if it weren't so expensive to get there! If Garret Smyth finds the north of England or Scotland cold and miserable, I don't think he would take kindly to your idea if it meant him living on Triton. Some space travel enthusiasts are predicting that a successor to the rocket needs to be found before the space frontier is opened up to a mass exodus. It is likely that nanotechnology may produce such a vehicle at some point, and maybe this'll be after it has revived the cryonic patients anyway.
Letter in Longevity Report 19
Many thanks for Longevity Report 18. Each issue gets better and better. (I don't say that just because you're kind enough to print my letters: in fact I'm always surprised to see them reproduced at such full length.)
I'm glad that my vital point about Louisiana hit home. I can almost hear Mr Haines whining in pain and disbelief. He tries to cover his humiliation with a rather laboured air of exasperation but I think we know who came out the winner in that little battle! [Well, Mr Haines of course!!!-ed].
I assume I'm among the folk who need to take a little advice before rushing into print, but Mr Haines doesn't say from whom I should take "a little advice". I could approach a down and out on the Embankment or stop a stronger in the street, or does he mean I should take advice from him? Presumably you also need advice as you share some responsibility in seeing our erroneous effusions make their way from manuscript to printed page. [I hope the readers find your arguments with Mr Haines amusing reading - ed.]
I think engineering technology as espoused by Buckminster Fuller will soon put paid to work. The resources of the Earth and space will sustain us all without Brian's concern about freeloaders. Alas the halcyon era may come too late to ensure my own survival. [Caution - similar things were said when steam energy first appeared - writers said it hailed the end of work. Nevertheless I am myself optimistic about nanotechnology. But will we all have to still work like stink to pay the needs of lawyers and accountants? Land can't be made by nanotechnology, and we will still have to have some upon which to set our nanotechnological housebuilders to work. The trend to cheapness in manufactured goods already exists -but what about services? If you think you can get by without services, then remember that 30% of MPs are in the legal or accounting "industries" and they will pass laws to see that their friends on the outside get plenty of work. For example, wills and probate, conveyancing (I know its been made a wider market, but they haven't made a house as easy to buy as a car, even though they could cost the same. New car = 5000 = terraced house in Northern England)-ed.]
My Life! It is indisputably true that my life has been (irreparably?) blighted by many things but fortunately my "promising life" has not been affected by Ritalin. I only ever took this drug recreationally, experimentally or occasionally. [Maybe so, but how do you know it's effects aren't long lasting and pervasive? - ed.]
I saw a poster up on a board at St Thomas' Hospital asking for volunteers to test a new skin cream. I wondered whether this may be Retin A and sure enough it is. And one gets paid 75 in three instalments. [Mr Zehse sent me a copy of the form. The treatment lasts for at least six months, during which the participant gets some cream to use on face, hands and forearms. This may either be a placebo or Retinyl Ester, which is hoped to be as good as Retin A without the side effects. Women have been known to threaten suicide if their doctors won't prescribe Retin A, a POM, for facial wrinkles. The participant has to undergo skin elasticity tests, and donate a 4mm, length or width unspecified, piece of skin from the forearm three or four times during the six months, leaving a small scar. Not so good if you're getting the placebo! -ed]
What the hell's going on! on an earlier occasion you deliberately downgraded my post code from 6 to 5: now you're tampering with the letters -H transmuted to T. Is it merely a fetishistic need to fidget around post codes or is it some deeper Freudian malaise? [Neither, just a simple shortage of time. I try to answer letters quickly, but Mike Zehse sends in so many that it is often necessary to put them to one side in order to deal with other enquiries. However he is to be assured that I always have a good laugh at his jokes and appreciate the newspaper cuttings he sends. In general, the length of reply and attention a correspondent gets is inversely proportional to the amount of other stuff that comes in on the same day.]
[Mike Zehse recently ordered a subscription to Lifequest from the proceeds of payment for a Retin A trial he has joined at St Thomas' Hospital. He sent us this review of the first five issues of Lifequest.]
I enjoyed the Lifequests. A Place by the Sea (issue 2) was particularly impressive; it was so powerful and mesmerising one almost got the impression of reading the same pages twice over. Are the Rockwells of defense technology fame? [No. They are pen names. -ed] Leigh could consider submitting Save the Whales (issue 3) (possibly re-titled A Christmas Story?) to a cat fancying magazine if she could find one where the editor had a good sense of humour. (Apparently cat magazines have a surprisingly large circulation!) or some more general pet magazine, circulation ditto.
As a firm chipmunk supporter I was delighted to read Grandpa Chippers (issue 2). Wasn't there a 1950s pop group called The Chipmunks? If this sentimental story was ever serialised on the radio they could use their music as background.
Have you upgraded your WP equipment. [Yes - ed] Your letter has a clean crisp effect. I note that you also failed to sign it. Further evidence of secret antagonism towards me or a cunning ruse to deny authorship if we subsequently become involved in acrimonious dispute? [No - it was unintentionally left out in the rush of time.]
Being busy travelling is surely no excuse for not dealing with an "interesting idea" (Bishop of Durham). The early church was founded on peripatetic dialectical activity.
Who's responsible for those witty illustrations in Longevity Report? I like them. [They are stock drawings for desk top publishers. I have now got a scanner, so if there is anyone out there who would like to produce a series of drawings or cartoons with an immortalist bent, I would be keen to add them to the stock. I could possibly publish them worldwide on the public domain computer software system. This could result in increased readership for Longevity Report and interest in immortalism. - ed]
Ted Bell is probably correct in his view of Karate (Longevity Report 18.11) People who are innately unpleasant seem attracted to it. I recall a famous Japanese instructor telling me how the floor was "velly slippely with blood" when he fought some championship in Hong Kong. I think there's usually something suspect in the psychopathology of men who want to learn a fighting art. Tho' it may be that if one is violent, attendance at Karate classes helps one to channel and control that aggression then it fulfils some purpose.
I think Akaido is probably the best martial art. The practitioners I've met seem reasonably sane. The emphasis is (or should be) on developing skill, technique and inner strength (ki) with respect and gratitude to your opponent for allowing you to practise your skills.
I note that the man who battered his 5 year old daughter to death in Bristol was an exponent of Tae Kwan Do. Like most child batterers he had been brutalised himself as a child, and has internalised a warped, sick regard for macho violence.
There seems to be a lot of unresolved conflict and anger with contributors to Longevity Report sniping at each other in its columns. [Mike Zehse then goes on to give a graphic fictional account of a Karate contest between readers. Garret Smyth and Mike Price are high on his list of Zen style retribution for failing to answer letters.]
Wonderful news! Mizar received a mention in LBC last Saturday (30 Dec) - synopsis of Medical Matters in 1989. Recollected from memory. "January - A firm headed by a London estate agent offers to freeze people and subsequently bring them back from the dead. A cut price rate is offered for heads only." [Hardly an understanding mention, I'd have thought -ed]
reviewed by John de Rivaz
Mike Zehse continues to send in cuttings of newspapers that he says he finds in London's dustbins! From a recent batch, we include the following items, listed in no particular order:
Today of February 19 printed a misleading article about vitamin overdoses. Mentioning the genuine effects of vitamin D and B6 overdoses, it went on to condemn all vitamins, including vitamin C. It suggested that the rebound effect, known to those ignorant of the need to gradually reduce vitamin C doses, was a reason to avoid vitamin C. This sort of ignorant mis-reporting will undoubtedly cause some people to ignore genuine warnings about the increasingly sophisticated range on nutritional supplements available.
The Sunday Express on 18 February described an American operation at replaces all the digestive organs with those form a donor in cases of cancer. Known as a "cluster transplant", this surgery had been given to ten patients at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two died as a result of the surgery, but the remaining eight left hospital after six weeks functioning well.
Cancer recurs after about a year in liver transplanted patients, but it is hoped that by removing more organs its spread can be prevented. My uneducated comment is that transplant surgery involves immune suppression, and an immune suppressed patient is more likely to develop carcinomas.
Hope for Addicts
An undated issue of The Daily Star mentions research by the Glaxo company on drugs that they have found help people get off addictions, from alcohol through tranquilisers to heroin. Ondansatron was developed for cancer treatment, and they hope it will be given medical approval for this purpose early this year. At present they are testing it on lung smokers to see if it stops their craving for nicotine.
It reacts with 5-HT which moves messages around the brain, according to the newspaper. Glaxo think it might work on the reward mechanism which leads to craving.
Another drug, sumatriptan, used by Glaxo for migraines, has also been found to be of benefit in these cases. Previously, Bristol Myers Squibb's Buspar was found to be effective in some instances only, notably those who haven't had a wide range of drugs before and who haven't had valium.
Longevity Books Publicity
The Evening Standard mentioned an article in my regular column in Funeral Service Journal on cryonic suspension. This was part of a general feature on the costs of dying. Entitled appropriately RIP plus VAT, the article says that the average cost of a funeral has risen from 586 in 1968 to nearly 1000 now.
Unfortunately the review described suspension as macabre, and said that dignity is what the deceased wanted to buy. Britain had the second worst cremation statistic ((70%) after Japan's 99%. It also stated that crematoria do not burn the coffin. Therefore presumably all that expense you pay for a coffin is merely to hire it, and the government gets its VAT over and over again on the same item!
I must say that I feel it is in execrable taste if funeral bills do include VAT as an "extra". No one paying for a funeral is likely to be registered for VAT in their capacity as next of kin, and indeed with a little thought it may even be possible for a small funeral director to arrange his business not to be VAT registered. This would avoid the client having to pay VAT on the labour employed for the funeral, which must be the biggest item. As VAT is a turnover tax, the funeral director could merely act as the client's agent in collecting the money for disbursements, and charge only his time directly. This would minimise the taxation to those items that are produced by large firms, such as the timber and fitments for the coffin (or whole coffin if it is bought in).
This comment is in line with my philosophy that any business should minimise its clients' costs and provide good value. Stating VAT as an extra on any retail bill or where it is known the client is not registered is attempting to pass the buck. I hope that readers interested in Cryonics and Life Extension will continue to support Longevity Report as the only immortalist publication that maintains the view that businesses have a responsibility to clients' costs.
Kneeling to the Axeman
The Mail on Sunday January 14 had a sad little tale of peoples' gullibility and credulity.
Preacher Dick Taylor had a "divine revelation" that his wife would die in 1990. When they told his children they were upset at first, but now they understand that it if God's will, they are quite happy.
Un undated issue of The Sunday Correspondent had an interesting item reviewing a book available from the Clinical Press, Redland Green, Bristol BS6 6HF for 12. Entitled Evolution in Dental Care it contains contributions from more than 50 experts that maintain that within 35 years most dental treatment will be a do it yourself activity with fluorides, sealants and remineralising agents. The new philosophy will be to let dental decay heal itself, rather than drilling every cavity.
Because of previous abuses of the payment by fillings, British dentists will be paid on a per patient basis like doctors, at least as far as children are concerned, from October. Presumably the government feels that adults can look after themselves, so when your dentists wants to do a filling, caveat emptor!
More Fee Rip-Offs
The Sun on 1 February reported that a private hospital bill of 50,000 for unspecified treatment included individual charges as follows:
1 cotton wool swab 102.00
1 Aspirin tablet 1.00
1 1" plaster 7.00
1 disposable razor 6.75
1 pr surgeon's gloves 4.00
Maybe the total charge was justified, but this is taking people for fools. As most people are paying through insurance, possibly they don't care about such costs. But everyone who buys insurance is paying through their premiums.
Common Sense and Humanity
In an unspecified cutting, Dr Neville W. Gordon of Southmead Hospital, Bristol hits out at do gooders who try to stifle research by recycling arguments about right to life, re genetic screening. Many of these people refer to the new medicine as the slippery slope to the undesirable excesses of National Socialism. Dr Goodman states that what stops us sliding down that slope is common sense and humanity.
He points out that whilst one can always quote a few isolated cases where the arrival of a handicapped child has a "happy outcome", in the majority of cases it splits families and has repercussions well beyond the individual child concerned.
He calls for the new techniques to be discussed in a rational and non emotional manner.
Mike Zehse's Surgeon "Villain" in News Story
Mike Zehse's operation was performed by Mr Bryn Williams - Mr Neville being the "registrar" who did what Mr Zehse described as the "donkey work." He was branded by the Sunday Times as a the villain of a piece on surgeons who do both private and public work. In typical newspaper fashion, they referred to him as "Williams" in the article, without even a Mr, as if he was some petty criminal guilty of shop lifting or exceeding the speed limit by 10%. They claimed that the public (NHS) patients are often kept waiting for appointments inordinately long times whilst the surgeon isn't even in the hospital as he is away working in a private clinic. The article harps upon Mr Williams' trappings of wealth, his car, expensive home address etc., and said that sometimes people who expected to see him on the NHS found themselves facing a junior substitute.
This obviously raises a serious dilemma for the public health service. Should they ban people like Mr Williams from combining private and public work? If they do, it is fairly obvious that he would chose the private option, and the standards in public healthcare would take a further fall.
Undoubtedly some effort should be made to treat patients with more respect, and if this can have legal force in both sectors equally, then it should solve the problem.
Mike Zehse's London dustbin paper recycling has revealed a number of items about Elizabeth Taylor this time. Some mention the possibility of her suspension, others don't. My own feeling is that she has probably left it too late if she was serious. Undoubtedly the press will latch on to something like that and make it grow beyond reality in its importance. Naturally I hope that she has made arrangements, as obviously this will benefit the movement enormously. But I shall not believe that it has happened until I read about it in the cryonics press rather than the daily papers.
On 21 May the Daily Mirror and others were reporting her plea to die at home and an attempted escape from hospital. Whether this was connected with that particular hospital's unwillingness to cooperate with suspension arrangements I would doubt. The Sunday Mirror reported that she was suffering from candida albicans, and would have to undergo a painful five weeks of intravenous therapy. However the paper said she did not have cancer or AIDS. The Daily Express reported her to be extremely low after weeks of extensive tests, and the same paper on 14 May repeated the cryonics story.
The Star of 18 June stated that she had viral pneumonia, suffered kidney failure and needed a respirator to survive. But she has now gone home on the arm of boyfriend Larry Fortensky. Her bill, paid by the insurers of the Screen Actors' Guild, came to $0.8 million. She is quoted as saying "Throughout this experience I have learned how precious life is, how much I love it and yearn to live more of it."
An unspecified paper said that she had received death threats and installed four security men with machine guns outside her room. Some workers at the hospital said she was "cranky as hell". Another is quoted as saying "She must be getting better - she is sounding off all the time."
Her first engagement after her illness was to fly 400 miles to unveil plans at a San Francisco AIDS conference for an international AIDS research fund - against her personal physician's advice. She has raised money for this subject since her friend Rock Hudson's death through the disease. About a quarter of a million homosexuals were said to have attended the conference.
Reports that she had a 23 year old "toy-boy" were exposed as a hoax. The man was reported to be capable of imitating a spokeswoman's voice and had fooled many newspapers into publishing the story as a publicity stunt. Legal action is being taken against him.
Jackson Panic Call
Whilst underoing treatment for a suspected heart attack, Michael Jackson is reported in The News of the World of 10 June to have had an aid request the Alcor team to stand by. However the paper reports that "an offical" refused to confirm or deny the call. They didn't say whether the official was of Alcor or the hospital. It turned out in the end that Mr Jackson had a bad attack of shingles, a herpes related disease aggravated by stress. The paper also printed a denial of earlier reports that he had planned suicide. I would recommend Wipe out Herpes with BHT as the start in a search for a solution to the problem of shingles. As BHT is extremely cheap, no medical professional is likely to recommend it to someone as wealthy as Mr Jackson! We can supply this book for 4.40 post paid, and it is also available in America from the MegaHealth Society, PO Box 60637, Palo Alto, California 94306.
The Selfish Gene Battles Life Extenders
The central theme of Dr Paul Segall and Carol Kahn's book Living Longer, Growing Younger is the production of cloned organs and even complete bodies as a surgical treatment for ageing and other diseases. The production of a child in order to provide a bone marrow transplant for a dying older child was headlined Frankenstein debate rages around US baby in the Sunday Times of April 1.
Mary and Abe Ayala have chosen to have a second child after being unable to find a bone marrow donor for their 17 year old daughter. Mr Ayala, who runs a speedometer repair shop in Los Angeles, had his vasectomy reversed in order to impregnate his wife. He was told the chances were only one in four of the baby having matching bone marrow.
The case has provided a field day for ethicists, enabling them to debate such questions as why we bring children into the world. Is it ethical to do this for just one purpose, even if it is to save another's life? The baby will donate the bone marrow at age six months, at which it will be unable to give informed consent to what is a painful and slightly risky procedure.
Fears have been voiced that cancer centres will work with fertility centres to produce tissue matched embryos for their patients. Remarks were passed about a cannibalistic older generation feeding on spare parts from the younger generation. At least the writer didn't drag in Count Dracula! I suppose blood donation is more accepted as an older practise.
The use of fetal tissue for Parkinson's disease treatment gives rise to the possibility of conceiving a fetus and aborting it so that the relevant tissue is available.
The selfish gene is undoubtedly going to fight anyone who tries to use the reproductive process to extend life. But the fact remains that we contain a nano-machine capable of growing a new body but cannot use it to restore our own. If we can apply our brains and tools to make this possible, are there ethical reasons why we should not? Even if as individuals we feel the issue is irrelevant, society as a whole certainly won't, so it will have to be discussed.
My own view is that any ultimate responsibility for what happens lies with whatever is responsible for the fact that we grow old and die.
The sooner we develop a nanotechnology capable of repairing our own bodies, the sooner we won't need to use these other techniques. Also, such a technology will bring to an end the production of animals for slaughter and much of the suffering that is innate in the universe as it stands. If there are forces for good and evil in any schizophrenic master the universe may have, the force for evil will undoubtedly be troubled by the dramatic changes introduced by the technology necessary for the abolition of death.
Hope Haunted by Cancer Fears
An unattributed cutting states that comedian Bob Hope is having frequent check-ups because he is haunted by dread of cancer.
A hospital spokesman in Los Angeles said the 86-year old British born comic fears that he has a malignancy. He says he loves life so much, he's not ready to give it up.
Has anyone told him about cryonics?
Another unattributed cutting from a paper dated 15 March suggests that the renunciation of old age disturbs the ancient rhythms of life. Those who choose to remain healthy and young looking in old age are described as mutants, and are said to be hated by the young.
The article was inspired by the announcement that the mothers of Sylvester Stallone and Cher were to pose for Playboy. Jackie Stallone is quoted as saying she is in better condition at 66 than she was at 20, and Georgina Holt, 62, made a quote in a similar vein.
Pills for Diabetics
The Daily Mail of 28 May reports on work at Guy's Hospital, London, on orally administered insulin. Tests are also being performed in Ohio, and Australia. However it claims that specialists believe the treatment will be limited to those who find injections difficult, such as the blind. Why so limited, I wonder?
There are problems to be overcome, such as dosage levels, and the problems that would be caused to diabetics by vomiting diseases which would prevent them getting their insulin.
The same paper mentions a Yale University report that massive doses of the steroid drug methylprednisolone given within eight hours of spinal injury reduced the risk of paralysis. The dose was said to be 100 times the normal dose for shock.
Evening Standard Announces Alcor UK
The mid day edition of The Evening Standard, London's "local" paper, carried a full page report detailing Alan Sinclair's expenditure of a quarter of a million pounds on setting up Alcor UK. It pictured him beside the equipment which it said he had just received from Alcor in the USA, and with which he would remove heads for neuropreservation. There was also extensive quotations from Garret Smyth, described as a "volunteer" (rather than client) for the new process. The afternoon edition had reduced this to a single column with no pictures, and most of Garret Smyth's bit was cut out. The stories that displaced it - 20 column inches on a car that parked on a Thames slipway and was covered by the tide, 14 column inches on underfunding in government schools, seven column inches on a television charity marathon to raise money for children, and ironically, seven column inches on wasted good ideas. The final edition didn't carry the story at all!
A Norwegian disk jockey, Rolf Olsen, was banned from broadcasting for life and may be the subject of litigation following an allegedly spoof broadcast to listeners in Bergen to the effect that a deadly amoeba was infecting people in the area. It was stated in The Sport of 6 June that eight people killed themselves and hundreds of others had heart attacks. However the paper went on to say that amoebae are one celled animals that are harmless and are found everywhere.
I must say that I thought that certain kinds did cause dysentery.
Jane Fonda's Immortalist Statement
The Sun of 11 June reported, as part of a story concerning the actress' plastic surgery to remove two ribs, Jane Fonda as saying that she doesn't want to die gracefully. She'll be kicking and screaming all the way.
Cadaver Bone Transplants - A New Threat to Cryonics?
The Independent recently reported that Mrs Hilda Read, 75, received a bone transplant from a cadaver after three artificial hip operations failed. She was described as an "ideal patient".
The operation took five hours, and has the advantage that the transplant and the patient's own bone will bond where they meet.
Surgeons at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, who performed the operation, said the operation was rare at present, but exciting. They appealed to people to donate their bones after death.
The problem that I see here is that surgeons will be highly motivated to do this operation as fee income will be good, and the operation should be popular as results appear to be good. They may feel threatened by cryonics as a possible obstacle. (Although in reality the numbers make this an unlikely proposition for the foreseeable future.)
John Evans' 112 years are over
An unspecified paper reported on the death of John Evans, for whom the universe ended 112 years after it started. Mr Evans was also the oldest person to receive a heart pacemaker, at 108. He left hospital three days after surgery.
The story provided some interesting data for people interested in longevity. His longevity was surpassed by four British women of whom only Miss Charlotte Hughes, 112 now survives. The world's oldest living person is Mrs Carrie White, 115, from Florida. (I wonder if she takes Life Extension Mix.) The absolute longevity record is held by a Japanese, Shigechiyo Izumi, who perished in 1986, 120 years and 237 days after his birth.
Mrs Etty Heaton of Saffron Walden celebrated her 107th birthday recently. According to an unspecified cutting, she put her longevity down to a daily bowl of oatmeal porridge and a good laugh.
The question we ask, of course, is life meaningful if it is finite regardless of how long it is?
Cabbage and Breast Cancer
The Independent of 8 July carried the story that a cabbage rich diet may help to protect against breast cancer. This is not new, of course - the benefits of cabbage have been mentioned in health books for many years. Freeze dried raw cabbage forms part of Life Extension Mix, as the Life Extension Foundation have evidence that it has special properties when freeze dried.
The story goes into the matter in some detail. Scientists at the Institute of Hormone research in New York say a compound in cabbage causes the breakdown of a female sex hormone linked with breast cancer. The compound, indole-3-carbinol accounts for 1% of the dry weight of a cabbage.
People who eat 1lb of cabbage per day show an increase of a key enzyme in the body that breaks down the sex hormone oestrogen.
Dr Leon Bradlow said he plans further studies, and is interested to see the effects on men when fed large amounts of the substance.
My thoughts are that men probably have some oestrogen in their bodies, and its reduction may make them more "masculine" looking. But whether the oestrogen balances out some of the undesirable health effects of testosterone, such as baldness or susceptibility to male cancers, I don't know. If it does, then its reduction may not be beneficial form a longevity point of view, even if it is cosmetically attractive.
There are undoubtedly many benefits in cabbage, and I would doubt that eating large quantities of cabbage would affect oestrogen levels in men. However if they were given large doses of the isolated compound, then results would certainly be interesting. But I would not advise anyone to volunteer to try it out.
Fresh Air for City Dwellers
Another unspecified cutting detailed the introduction of "Inhalatoriums" in Budapest, capital of Hungary. Customers queue up for 15 minute turns in kiosks supplied with cleaned air. A good business idea for any city, I should have thought.
A medical research in Nigeria is reported in the Guardian of 10 July as having developed a vaccine against death. Dr Jorn Bazim Nwanze, of the Mayfield Foundation, which has offices in Maida Vale, London and Port Harcourt, Nigeria, says the vaccine (DV-90) tends to increase lifespan 10 to 15 years. In a few years time it thinks it will be able to produce a new version, (DV-99) that will suspend death indefinitely. The article, like me, is sceptical.
Growth Hormone Receives Major Coverage
Various newspapers are picking up the story about Professor Peter Sonksen's experiment at London's St Thomas's Hospital with human growth hormone as an anti aging substance. The Sun of July 16 says a year's supply will cost about $5,500.
It is claimed the treatment will fight middle age spread, anxiety and lost sex drive.
The Mirror of 16 July also ran the story and said that 12 men in Wisconsin USA had developed physiques of men 20 years younger under the treatment. The Mirror's cartoon is reproduced below.
[Mirror article & cartoon found by Karen Griffin - not in a dustbin, in a neighbour's house.]
The Sunday Mirror of 22 July reported that the pharmaceutical giants are reluctant to pay for research in GH because of the risk that there could be harmful side effects. Professor Ian Cooke of Sheffield University said that no one knows what may happen in the long run. The British department of health has been asked to pay for more research.
The Mail On Sunday carried a long article on Dr Daniel Rudman's experiments at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Centre, near Chicago. The trials involved 21 healthy men aged 61 to 81. Extensive medical tests were carried out on the volunteers, particularly to weed out any who has signs of cancer. (Growth hormone also makes cancers grow - the reason it declines with age may be to deter development of cancers.)
Dr Rudman believes that the use of the hormone may make old people live with a better quality of life, but not extend maximum lifespan. He says that elderly people presently lying in nursing homes or wheel chairs will be able to get up, go home, and lead an ordinary life.
But regretfully no-one will benefit for a long time, as he fears that the FDA will require many years before it can be accepted for general use.
Dr Rudman has ceased to be at home to the telephone since hundreds of people have tried to get the treatment after the story was released to the press. According to The Evening Standard one caller even wanted to know whether it could be given to his dog. But Dr Rudman said that even if Howard Hughes was alive and asked for it, it could not be delivered until the regulations permit it.
I would advise anyone trying to get it abroad to remember that bit about cancer. Also the treatment is not oral, it is by injection three times a day. Dr Rudman's patients were instructed to administer their own injections.
What ever happened to that injection by compressed air we heard so much about at one time? It wasn't just on Star Trek.
I did see a documentary many years ago about the method being used to inoculate people in developing nations.
Could it be that the authorities don't want it to become known about and abused by drug addicts? Or was there some side effect?
The other possibility worth looking at it whether growth hormone could be administered with DMSO.
The Sun on 6 July in a tiny story on the subject mentioned that growth hormones don't stop brain cells aging. The obvious thing, of course, is to put the people onto Deprenyl as well.
I suspect that growth hormone has a good future, provided that
1 It can be mixed with something that gets over the cancer problem.
2 An oral version can be found, or compressed air injection can be re-introduced.
3 It can be mixed with Deprenyl (or something similar) with no ill effects.
Death apologist Dr Myles Harris, writing in The Evening Standard, reviewed the growth hormone situation, and said "Buying extra years is a mindless occupation with is bound to end in tears."
Dr Harris says that human greed and commercial pressures are likely to accelerate progress into curing aging, but if man is going to engineer his life totally he will have to engineer his death also.
He predicts that the drug companies will make vast profits in what he describes as a medical Klondyke. Who, he asks, is going to be allowed to buy and for how long, these drugs? Who is going to stop using them?
He favours the government installing radio controlled devices in people that deliver the drugs slowly, but end theirlives after random periods selected by a device similar to state lottery machines!
And he calls himself a doctor!
Family Values - Some Home Truths.
The Mail On Sunday of 22 July castigates those that complain of progress such as eugenic screening against inherited diseases, describing such advances as Nazi.
Judy Burchill says that untold misery is prevented by screening out these illnesses. Ms Ann Winterton, MP, is reported as complaining that the process is the beginning of eugenics, and that we will eventually all breed tall intelligent people, and describes such a possibility as a danger.
Ms Burchill asks what is wrong with people being born the best they can be? Are short stupid people happy? A lot of human misery has been caused by short stupid people who are determined to ruin other lives because they have been dealt such a raw hand by nature.
Eugenics does not mean concentration camps any more than legal abortion means government squads roaming around thinning out the population by random gunfire.
In fact, the more murderous and authoritarian the regime, the more it opposes abortion, for example, Dr Ceausescu's Romania.
The Nazis supported the idea of the family, and of women being nothing more than wives and mothers. It is just as valid to scream "Nazi" at those who support "family values" as those who support eugenics.
Ms Burchill concludes by asking the true motives of a lobby that supports the idea of a raped woman being forced to carry a pregnancy through to birth yet condemns the idea of a married couple producing a perfect child through technological intervention.
She doesn't answer the question, but I cannot help wonder whether it is a case of the natural selection of memes favouring one that brutalises people and makes them more vulnerable to the meme's authority.
Actress Chooses Alternative Medicine
The Sunday Mirror of 15 July chronicles the ordeal of actress Amanda Donohoe who became ill after hospital investigations following a positive cancer smear test. She asked the doctor how cervical cancer arose, and she was incensed by the (none the less accurate) reply: "All I can tell you is that virgins don't get cervical cancer."
Following a more detailed examination she suffered an infection that left her in agony and unable to walk for two weeks. She claimed that the government doctors spent so little time and made so little effort to help her that she went to an accupcuncturist. He sent her to a homoeopathic doctor who cured her of the infection.
She now claims to be cured and refuses further tests. "I am not going to let some twit in a white coat delve around me any more. I've had enough" she is reported to have said. Pathologist Dr Robert Yule is quoted as saying "I hope other women will not follow this young lady's example." (As well as performing autopsies, it is within the duties of a pathologist to examine and diagnose test samples.)
Fourth Cat Autopsied and Found to Have Perished from BSE
The Daily Telegraph of 28 June reported that the fourth cat that was autopsied was found to have perished from BSE, or "Mad Cow Disease." Mike Darwin, writing in Cryonics said that BSE is "British AIDS" and rightly states it to be a more serious problem.
The British government has now offered to fund research intro BSE. They express doubts that the cat disease is related to BSE, but will perform tests to ascertain whether it is.
It may be possible that these virion brain diseases were created a very long time ago and are present in many species, but have only come to light as modern farm practises amplified their effects in cattle.
It could well be that many patients diagnosed as having died from Alzheimer's disease could in fact have been a victim of one of these virion diseases.
Apart from the obvious, the other threat to cryonicists is that the authorities around the world may use more state violence in insisting that brains be cut up on death in order to research the progress and natural history of these diseases.
Zehse's Claim to Fame
Although not relevant to our subject, I though I ought to mention Mike's letter in Now!, a newspaper published by Voice Communications Group. Quite correctly, he castigated those who complained about women breast feeding their offspring in public places on the basis that society permits the display of photographs of women's mammary organs in newspapers and advertisements.
Brakemanesque Statement in The Times
[Brakemanesque = profound unintended (comment, event, statement, lifestyle etc.,) re death or immortalism! Regular readers of immortalist publications will have seen some of Malibu resident Bob Brakeman's 2,000 articles on famous people and world affairs and how they make unintentional statements about immortalism.]
In an article in Egyptian mummies, The Times of 12 July discussed research being done on DNA fragments that are revealing pathologies of modern diseases as they affected ancient peoples. This study will enable researchers to discover the unchanging parts of the viruses, and therefore the best parts to attack with treatments and vaccines.
The Brakemanesque statement? "We have to be convinced that each project is serious and has real potential before we allow even the smallest sample to be removed. We need to conserve what we have because the astonishing techniques of today will continue to improve. We must look ahead and realise that the researcher of the future will also need material to study."
The actual revival of mummies will, of course, be rather difficult due to the absence of the brain!
More on EPO costs
EPO (erythropoietin) is a drug that is essential to the regulation of red blood cells. It is produced by the kidneys, and therefore is absent in anyone who has none. Without the drug, kidney patients suffer constant anaemia, with attendant complications. A genetically engineered version costs about $7,500 per patient per year, and therefore it is difficult for people to get it on the National Health. However those that do achieve a remarkable improvement in health.
Dr Marion Stevens, herself a kidney patient whose transplant failed, has started a campaign to get the drug more widely used.
My own comment is that when things appear very expensive, the answer may to audit the costs involved, and see if there is any dead wood that can be cut out. Also, would it be possible for governments who manage health care in their countries to do some form of deal with the drug companies to reduce the costs of these vital products? What I have in mind is some favourable tax or regulatory concessions in exchange for supplies at cost.
Ripples in a Pond Analogy for Big Bang
Ms Alison Price in a letter to an unspecified newspaper on 30 June suggested that if you look down on a pond into which water is dropping you don't notice the falling drop but see the ripples expanding outwards. She thinks that the surface of the pond represents time and space as we know it, and the "universe is a circling iteration of input and output, perfectly balanced within a three dimensional flowing of time."
Young children don't understand perspective, and think a perspective drawing of a group of men consists of big men in the foreground with little men behind them. She says that they don't understand space, and in an analogous way we don't understand time.
The Evening Standard had an item on a Japanese case where an employee's father sued his daughter's employers for working her to death. They suggest that the legacy of Bushido, the code of the Samurai warrior, has moved to the employer's relationship with his staff. There are two tenets of Bushido that apply:
1. A warrior aspires to serve his master as if his body was already dead.
2. When in doubt don't hesitate - choose death!
Medical Receptionists Castigated
The Daily Star of 21 July reported that a doctor 'phoned to get treatment for his baby daughter (doctors in the UK are not allowed to treat their own families) and was refused an immediate appointment. The 11 month old child had a potentially fatal condition which results in skin blisters. The receptionist (described by the Daily Star as a "dragon") is reported to have said "I suppose you think a blister is more important than an old lady with breathing problems." When the little girl was finally seen, she had to be rushed to hospital as an emergency.
According to The Daily Mail of 23 July, gene creams are being developed to stop people developing allergic skin conditions. Proteins would bind with messenger skin cells to stop them producing inflammatory response to provocation. (Dr Stephen Katz, American National Cancer Institute, Maryland.)
It's not so much have you got the guts, but have you got the balls ...
An article in The Sunday Times of 22 July discussed the role of testosterone in male behaviour. It seemed to herald the findings as new material, but I must say that I had thought it to be common knowledge.
Two medical studies have shown that the same high levels of testosterone can turn one man into a millionaire and another to violent crime. High levels of the sex hormone in humans are linked with the urge to win and dominate. Researchers found that football players, actors and entertainers and women lawyers have one thing in common: high levels of testosterone. Clergymen have low levels.
Professor James Dabbs, a psychologist at Georgia State University, found men of low status with high levels of testosterone are more likely to commit crimes, become drug addicts, and have more than ten sexual partners in a year.
Research with 5,000 Viet Nam war veterans linked sensation seeking with high levels of testosterone in men with little education and low income. The most exciting things they liked were also illegal. People with more education tended to be more sociable - driving fast cars instead of stealing them, arguing instead of fighting.
A second study by the US National Institutes of Health on 1,700 confirmed that those with higher testosterone levels were more aggressive. The study's leader, Dr John McKinlay, said that men with high levels expressed himself forcefully and freely and dominated social interactions.
Dr Joe Herbert, of Cambridge University, an expert on human behaviour and hormones, said the effects of high levels also depend on life's circumstances. For some, it will mean they will become captains of industry, and for others a leader of a criminal gang. He also says the converse can apply, and hormone levels can change with people's success. First year cadets at Westpoint had depressed testosterone levels due to their low position in the pecking order. By their third year, their levels rose with their status.
Testosterone is also necessary in women in order to maintain their libido, according to Dr Herbert.
Society Solicitor Sir David Napley, whose clients include Princess Michael of Kent, said that barristers would be queuing up for booster shots of testosterone. Criminal Barrister Helena Kennedy is quoted by the paper as saying that the "adrenalin surge" that comes from the adversarial legal system is part of the job's attraction.
It is interesting to note this in connection with a recent report in this column about the fact that males if deprived of sexuality in adolescence are likely to be more violent than those who aren't. Readers may recall that I drew inferences about the use of single-sex concentration schools in both Germany and England and the fact that both countries were major protagonists in the two world wars.
Law takes precedence over Parisians' health
An item in The Evening Standard of 20 July mentioned that a private medical service that has been a common sight in Paris has been closed by bureaucrats.
The French medical authorities have suspended 127 of SOS-Medecins because their private service promised to race to clients' assistance at the first sign of symptoms. The excuse was unauthorised advertising. SOS-Medicins brightly liveried vehicles had been a familiar sight in Paris.
They also banned Professor Leon Schwartzenberg, the leading cancer specialist and a former Minister of Health in France, for giving a newspaper interview in which he admitted to relieving a cancer patient of suffering by prematurely terminating his existence.
Freudian Slip in The Sun
On July 27 The Sun reported that The Sheerness Times Guardian, a local paper in Kent, inserted an "in memoriam" advertisement that "God had taken William Hurst by the throat" when they should have said "by the hand." When the widow, Mrs Dorie Hurst, 61, complained, the apologetic receptionist said "I'm sorry I'm choked."
Conductor Said he Wanted to be Frozen
The German conductor Herbert von Karajan, who died about a year ago, was reported in the Observer Magazine of 8 July to have said that he would have liked to have been frozen and come alive in another century. The article also discussed his problems resulting from his association with National Socialism during the war, and arrangements he made with Sony for CD images to be recorded that will enable his conducting skills to be employed in the future with a computerised "resurrection".
The article described the conductor's lifestyle, and it is clear that he would have had no trouble in affording a Cryonics Institute suspension had he known about it.
The Sunday Sport is the UK's answer to the National Enquirer, but there is probably some germ of truth in the stories it prints, even though it may be hard to find. On 16 September they gave two full colour pages to Rosalia Lambardo, of Palermo, Sicily. She died aged two years in 1918 from influenza, and was chemopreserved by injection and sealed in a glass topped casket. Her appearance has remained unchanged, and down the ages there are stories of movements and other unnatural happenings surrounding the corpse.
After visitors claimed seeing the eyelids flicker, doctors connected an EEG to her head, and reported two small spurts of activity, one lasting 33 seconds and another 12. They say the printouts are comparable to those from a person dreaming.
The bulk of the article then goes into spiritual nonsense.
My reaction is that the EEG readings were probably due to radio interference with the EEG equipment. I wonder if a taxi or police car passing the church where the remains are situated was talking on it's radio?
Cow Blood Alternative
The Sunday Sport also reports that world shortages of human blood may mean that people will get cow blood, which Boston doctors are reported to say is almost identical. If this is so, I wonder why it hasn't been done before!
Horse cure for old knees
Doctors at the Texas Science Centre are researching hyaluronic acid, currently used on lame race-horses, for people with arthritic knees.
Fake Pharmacist works for 21 months.
For 21 months fork lift truck driver John Garvin posed as a pharmacist and obtained part time locum work at 210 chemists' via an agency. He used the name of a real pharmacist when signing on with an agency supplying stand-in staff. He was rumbled after a careless mistake labelling a patient's medicine wrongly.
What this shows, of course, is that the professionalism of dispensing pharmacists is questionable. If a fork lift driver can do the job for 21 months without error with no training, what value the years of training required for the job?
Ms Anne-Lise Gotzsche of Hampstead wrote to an unspecified newspaper with her cold cure. It is to sniff vitamin C powder up your nose so it gets to the infected membranes at the back of the nose. She attributes the remedy to Dr Fred Klenner, who knew of the virtues of vitamin C long before Linus Pauling entered the fray. He was chief of staff at the Memorial Hospital in Reidsville, North Carolina. She said that he was known to treat people successfully who were given up for dead by other doctors, with intravenous doses of ascorbic acid.
Anti Clotting Protein
Scientists in Australia have discovered a natural protein, GMP140, which stops blood clots forming. Dr Michael Berndt at The Institute of Vetinary and medical science, Adelaide, says that the protein is naturally present in the body and can be used without side effects. It will help in arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.
Crematorium Mercury Scandal
A report in The Guardian on 16 August revealed that the practise of body burning is releasing 11 kg of mercury into the air each year per crematorium. The upper limit for long term exposure is only a millionth of a gram per cubic centimetre.
Dr Alan Mills, a Leicester University geologist, is calling for filters to be added to crematoria or for the teeth to be extracted before cremation, as the main source is dental fillings.
Turtles and cryonics
Also in The Guardian, an article on 31 August related work by Jon Costanzo and Dennis Claussen, of Miami University, who are investigating how tolerant the turtle Terrapin Carolina is to sub-zero temperatures. Up to 60% of their body water can be frozen solid for up to 73 hours with no apparent ill effects.
Gary and Mary Packard, of Colorado State University, have shown that newly hatched painted turtles, Chrysemis picta, can withstand temperatures as low as -8.6oC for up to 18 hours.
The article concludes that turtles may have more than soup to offer mankind, and might hold the key to one of science's greatest goals - suspended animation.
TV Star Eschews Cancer Surgery
A-team star David Benedict is reported in The Sun on 3 August to have refused prostate cancer surgery and cured himself using seaweed. He forced himself to live off a strict diet of grains, vegetables beans and seaweed. he poulticed his lower abdomen with potato and ginger to reduce the pain.
He is quoted as stating "I totally believe that food is medicine. I have no faith in drugs, radiation or chemotherapy. Steve McQueen tried that and died in agony."
He said "The tumour passed though me one week in April 1983. Sweat suddenly began to pour from me and I didn't leave the house for a week. But by the end, the diseased tissue has passed through my system."
Medical tests confirmed the cure.
"Its not how you look, but how you think"
In an article discussing "mixed age" relationships based on the singer Cher and her toy boy Richie "I don't want to be tied down to an old woman" Sambora, The Daily Mail suggested that older people need shared experiences with people their own age. They can't stay up all night drinking whisky and get tired more easily. How do you ask a toy boy "Where were you on the day Kennedy was shot" when "I was in my pram" is the answer.
The article says that older men can attract young women because women are more attracted by personality than appearance.
The article concludes that our understanding of the ageing process is superficial. It is not just the appearance but what is inside the head, experience and memory, that matters.
I would comment that aggregated experience and memory is an advantage not a problem, and if the chemical and physical defects can be reversed, then the total result will not be a young again person, but a better than young person!
The Sun of 13 September anounced that American researchers had said that women who marry toy boys live a third longer than usual!
World's Lowest Temperature
According to an unattributed cutting, scientists at the University of Colorado have obtained the world's lowest temperature - 1.1 millionth of a degree absolute - using a diode laser. They used it to trap some caesium in a "light cage" and cause the atoms to stop moving. The laser was said to cost 100.
This account is obviously absurdly simplified, but if anyone can find out more details it may prove useful.
Kidney Drug used for Sports
The naturally occurring drug erythropoitin (EPO) is used by kidney patients to increase the oxygen absorbing qualities of haemoglobin. It is difficult to get under the National Health in the UK because of the cost, but it can work miracles in patients with no kidneys to produce it naturally.
However it is now being obtained by sportsmen who are using it to improve performance. As it is naturally occurring, no test can detect its artificial presence. Although it can be detected and measured, who is to say whether a particular level is natural or artificial to a specific individual?
Acne drug prevents cancer.
An unspecified cutting mentioned that the acne drug accutane had been found to be effective in preventing the development of head and neck cancers. The breathrough was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine resulting from research at the University of Texas. The drug concerned is Accutane, made by Hoffman-La Roche. Researchers speculate that alcohol drinkers and lung smokers may be able to use the drug as a cancer preventative.
Dr Peter Greenwald of the National Cancer Institute was quoted as saying that ti was the first controlled study demonstrating that cancer chemoprevention actually works.
Advance Payment for Funerals
An article in the Sunday Times suggests that people are not happy with insurance schemes designed to pay for funerals. They are now aware that inflation will make the sum insured unlikely to be sufficient. Age Concern says that the best value and most popular schemes are those where the client pays a single payment that guarantees him a funeral as specified in the contract. A bsic plan is available for $1,100, and a slightly more elaborate ceremony costs $1,500.
An article in an unspecified newspaper revealed that research is going on in a number of U.K. universities into molecular electronics. Applications given included computing and light/electricity conversion. Those involved with the research include:
Ray Bonnett (Department of Chemistry, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London) (QMW)
David Bloor (Department of Applied Physics, Durham University)
Chris Pitts (Department of Electronics, University College, London)
Ray Smith (Department of Materials, QMW)
Guy Williams, (Department of Physics QMW)
Some of the projects include an electrically conducting layer one molecule thick, and constructing objects using molecules as building blocks. One such object would be a conditional switch using single porphyrin molecules.
The Boys from Baghdad
The Independant On Sunday Discovered that before the gulf crisis Saddam Hussein had contacted Dr Avi Ben-Abraham re the possible suspension and future cloning of his cells, and run a story under the above heading. Readers may recall the film The Boys From Brazil concerning Hitler clones. The enquiry was timed about two months before the attack on Kuwait. Dr Ben-Abraham was quoted as saying that they would have helped two months ago, but as a result of the invasion would no longer be willing to consider Mr Hussein as an ACS client.
In the meatime, a U.S. lavatory paper manufactuerer has sold 20,000 rolls with a photograph of Mr Hussein on each sheet.
Amusing though that is, I would warn readers again that the use of coloured (or printed) lavatory paper may be dangerous as traces of dye may be left on the anus. Dyes used could be carcinogenic.
Concentrating Old People
In a thoughtful article in The Guardian on 1 October, Jill Tweedie wrote of the plight of old people in homes where the clients don't get on with each other.
She starts off by mentioning that in schools children are concentrated regardless of whether particular individuals get on together. Those that don't are often branded difficult, a nuisance, selfish, withdrawn.
This traumatic event has such an effect that people spend the rest of their lives counteracting it, surrounding themselves with others of similar values and outlook.
However, when elderly, they are dumped back into exactly the same situation - in old people's homes. Here there is the added problem of Alzheimer's patients mixed in with other elderly people, who are made to feel heartless if they complain.
She calls for a selective process whereby old people's homes try and get clients of similar interests and condition.
An unspecified paper printed a story on 24 September that may interest those who suffer headaches. Research is to be carried out at the City Migraine Clinic, Charterhouse Square using a cranial stimulator imported from the U.S. The manufacturers claim that wearing the device for ten minutes twice a day should banish attacks.
It works using a voltage too low to be felt, and stimulates the release of beta endorphin and serotonin and reducing cortisol in the bloodstream. Professor Alan Bennett, of the Rayne Institute is overseeing the trial.
The idea that future science can make good from a poorly preserved original gets a boost from a recent CD issued by EMI classics.
Sir Thomas Beecham strolled into the pit at the Royal Opera House in London one evening in 1930, picked up his baton, and asked the leader of the orchestra "What Are We Doing Today?" "Tristan", he was told. "Are your sure? I thought it was Tannhäuser."
According to The European, (14 September) he then went on to give the performance of a lifetime, blithely observing "Nice little piece, that Tristan. Must do it again sometime."
Unknown to the "copyrightpolizei", a totally illegal recording was being made backstage. Once can imagine the poor quality of that secretive recording, on the bulky mechanical equipment of the 1930s. However it was later found by a researcher working for EMI Classics, and has been reprocessed into what is alleged to be a "technically perfect" CD recording. Even only a few years ago such reprocessing would have been regarded as impossible. It is only with the use of high speed and powerful microprocessors can the original sound be recovered from the distorted crackly mess which that recording must have been.
The story also mentioned that Lady Beecham is moving her late husband's remains from the Brookwood cemetery, Surrey because of the spread of urban sprawl to the area and particularly because of "fly tipping" around the cemetery.
L-Leucine May Help Motor Neurone Patients.
An item in The Guardian of 14 September suggested that the amino acid L-leucine would restore glutamate dehydrogenase activity and reduce damage to motor neurones. Motor Neurone Disease was designed to destroy the regulation of glutamate, which in turn destroys motor neurones.
Clearly this treatment is a palliative rather than a cure - the disease remains - but it is a step to help patients until a total cure can be developed.
A small scale American trial in 1988 showed some promise, and a new international trial coordinated by London's Charing Cross hospital will investigate claims over a year. It will take 14 months to recruit 600 patients in 6 countries for the project. Results will be available early in 1993. The trial, which will cost three quarters of a million pounds, will enable doctors to give clear advice whether amino acid treatment works.
The paper says that the treatment is unpleasant to take and cost £1,000 per year. I would ask why the amino acid cannot be encapsulated, and I would also query the cost.
A second study is to investigate whether motor neurone disease is a disease at all. It may not be caused by a virus, virion or bacteria but by the cumulative effects of food toxins. Dr Peter Nunn, a senior lecturer at London's King's College is to undertake a two year study funded by the British Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr Nunn is to investigate ideas that eating certain seeds can cause the condition, and although he is uncertain as to whether this is the whole story he feels that his work will yield an important insight into the problem.
Static Electricity Cure for Baldness
In an experiment at the University of British Columbia a test involving 30 bald men investigated a claim that sitting under a hood providing an electrostatic field renewed hair growth. It was claimed that 29 stopped losing hair and indeed gained two thirds more than they had at the start of the trial.
London hair consultant Heather Morris was unimpressed by the claims, according to the Daily Mail of 21 September. She said she had tried similar ideas to no success.
Another Headache Remedy
The Sun of 10 September carried a short item stating that migraine sufferers had a reduction in the level of magnesium in the brain, and therefore could be helped by eating spinach, which is rich in the mineral. Sufferers at a Detroit hospital have improved after spinach was added to their diet. (Any reader of The Immortalist know anything about this?)
Although the Jarvic artificial heart was regarded as a failure due to blood clotting, work has continued and more portable models have quietly been introduced. One patient has survived for eight months with one whilst awaiting a transplant. The key seems to have been to make the hearts with a rough surface upon which body cells collect. This prevents blood clots forming on the artificial parts. In previous models, these blood clots would then dislodge and pass around the body causing damage.
A conference at the Royal London Hospital heard how cardiothoracic surgeon Mr Terence Lewis has been researching a device made by Thermo Cardiosystems Inc of Boston, Mass. according to a report on The Guardian on 10 September.
Junior Doctors Driven to Drugs by Long Hours
Today of 10 October revealed that 7.5% of junior doctors rely on drugs to work 36 hour shifts without a sleep break. Some shifts have run to over 100 hours. The system survives because with too few junior doctors there is a chance for most to become highly paid consultants later in life. If there were more juniors, only a few could reach this level.
The matter was given a further airing when Dr Hanno Richards, 30, was brought before the courts for illegal use of the Home Office List drug Fortral. The judge was so appalled by his working conditions that he let him off with a conditional discharge. However Dr Richards will probably lose his license to practise medicine at a professional hearing later.
Other cases were also mentioned in the news item, and it was said that many doctors had to use sleeping pills because when they finally were allowed to sleep they couldn't. Also, they use pills to keep awake during long shifts. Although these shifts theoretically have sleep periods, these are often interrupted by telephone calls to attend patients. A case was mentioned where a doctor under such stress very nearly killed a baby by giving an incorrect dose. Fortunately, she saw her error before administering the injection.
Heart Grows Outside Womb
Dr Leonard Bailey, of the Loma Linda University Medical Centre, said that the heart does not normally develop outside the womb, so he gave nine week old Weston Kilpatrick two weeks to live with his undersized heart unless a heart donor could be found.
Then his heart inexplicably began growing. Unfortunately, Dr Baily said that it was a miracle and that he believed in that sort of thing.
Personally I would call it a beneficial mutation, and it gives hope to all those that don't accept bald statements made by the medical profession that certain things are impossible. When we can control the human genome we can program the body to do all sorts of things that it can't at present. Maybe even Alcor patients can grow new bodies!
Cancer:Is Nothing New?
The Guardian carried a letter following an item on the Bristol Centre (non-surgical treatment of cancer). Dr Moermann in Holland developed a dietary treatment for cancer, including megadoses of vitamin C, in 1939. After much abuse his work was finally accepted in 1988 as a valid treatment in Dutch hospitals.
One wonders what the Nazis must have made of it during their occupation of Holland!
The letter writer ended by requesting that greater care is taken over evaluations of natural medicine. I didn't see the report on the Bristol Centre, but the tone of the letter suggested the report was abusive.
Another Drug for Fatties
The Guardian of 12 October carried a long article on the drug Adifax. This reduces craving for carbohydrates, and is said to be successful if part of a calorie controlled diet. The drug has already earned £25 million for the Servier company in France, who make it. It is said to have the same anorexic characteristic as amphetamines, without the unwanted side effects. It increases the brain's serotonin levels, thereby
reducing the desire for carbohydrate food. Each pill reduces the desire for 300 calories, approximately equivalent to one Mars Bar.
Heavy Metal Threat
According to an article on 21 September in The Independent, heavy metals present in active and passive smoking, and also some water supplies and foods, may damage the kidneys of 1 in 10 people.
This information resulted from an article in The Lancet, which reported that researchers in Belgium had studied 1,669 people aged from 20 to 80 years and found that 10% had consumed enough cadmium to cause slight kidney damage. They conclude that the ratio will extend to other industrialised countries such as the United States.
Hair Test Reveals Dead Poet was on Opium
An article in The Independent on Sunday of 23 September described how hair tests are used by employers to check that employees aren't drug abusers. As a side issue it mentioned that a test on the 170 year old hair of John Keats, a poet, revealed the opium that he used as a painkiller. A similar test on Lord Byron proved negative.
Surgery Patients Fear Being Labelled Cowardly
According to The Independent of 26 September, Professor Michael Rosen, president of the College of Anaesthetists, has said that the attitude of patients who are afraid of being labelled cowardly by asking for pain relief must change. There is evidence that good pain control aids patient recovery, and means he spends less time in hospital.
The College has published a report in which it criticises British hospitals for poor pain control. They point out that the perception of pain can vary by 10 to 1 depending on the individual submitting to a particular operation. Often surgeons think that they know what post operative pain the patients are subjected to and ignore patient's requests. Patients expect severe pain as the price they have to pay for surgery, despite the fact that technology exists for its management.
The report calls for regular monitoring of pain using pain charts, and a special Acute Pain Service - a team of doctors, nurses and pharmacists on 24 hour call to provide advice on pain management. It also calls for more research into techniques and drugs to block pain, and the use of cryoanalgesia - freezing nerves to block pain.
British Army Invent Long Life Blood
According to The Mail on Sunday of 4 November, the Defence Ministry will earn hundreds of thousands of pounds over the next 20 years from its patent on a process that allows blood for transfusion to be kept forever. The story didn't detail the process.
In an important letter to The Times on 24 July, Mr Graham Hills, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, called for human contraceptives to be placed in the food chain. This would make those wishing to conceive to take a special diet for this to be possible, and would enable families to be properly planned. He said that the measure would result in far less child murders and abuse, and that those that worry about the right of the unborn child should also consider the rights of unwanted children.
He suggested that it should be a moral and religious principle that a child should be desired by both parties before sperm and ovum are allowed to interact. Approaching the problem from this standpoint, lacing the food chain with contraceptives would not be an unreasonable infringement of individual liberty.
Hayflick Limit Breached
Researchers at Strathclyde and Sussex universities have found a way to reproduce, from a small amount of human tissue, an unlimited line of cells which exactly replicate the originals. Oncogenes, originally designed to cause cancer, have been adapted for this purpose, according to The Sunday Correspondent of 7 October.
The process will be of use to create the cell type missing in Parkinson's disease patients, bringing to an end the controversial foetal transplant procedure.
Also lines of immortalised cells can be used in place of animal experiments to test new drugs, and the process can be used to grow artificial blood, ending the need for blood donors.
Androgenist cites hatred of men as cause of long life
An item in The Sunday Sport described 135 year old Barbora Yasaite, of Ramoshkiu, Lithuania, as a "sprightly spinster". She is quoted as saying her longevity is due to having nothing to do with men. She says they are responsible for all the ills of the world, and describes them as "dangerous animals".
She was 60 before she saw her first light bulb, and 80 before she made her first telephone call. The Guinness Book of Records confirms her claim, stating that she is 19 years older than her nearest rival.
Yet in contradiction of this, The Standard of 19 November claimed that the world's oldest person was Carrie C. Joyner White at 116 years, and that the only other person to have lived longer died in January 1986 aged 120. The Guinness Book of records was again cited as the source of this story!
Death at the Dentist
Time warps? Precognition? Whatever you believe, 16 year old Hannah Rose was terrified of dental surgery. The healthy teenager was finally coaxed into surgery at Leatherhead Hospital to have two teeth extracted - and the next time her parents saw her she was in the mortuary.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, and consultant anaesthetist Dr David Zeiderman told the hearing that the fear before the operation set off and abnormal reaction between her system and the Halothane anaesthetic gas. He said he was happy with the dose given and the resuscitation methods tried. Dental expert Geoff Graham said the fatal combination of general anaesthetic and nervous adrenalin is a one in few million chance.
However the parents plan legal action, claiming hospital staff did not act quickly enough. [The Mail on Sunday, 18 November]
Boys are told by their parents not to be lily livered if they make a fuss about going to the dentist. But on 27 November 13 year old Jason Shankles was terrified of going to the dentist. His mum told him "This dentist is the best. You've nothing to worry about." According to The Star of 27 November, these were the last word she spoke to her son. Jason slumped dead in the chair as the dentist extracted the first tooth. A post mortem found no cause of death, and the family doctor said "We can only assume that he died of fear."
Another Zehse Letter to the Press
Evening Standard, 21 November:
Sir Cyril Taylor is out of his tree if he imagines raising educational standards can be achieved only by making children spend more time in the classroom.
In [modern -ed] Germany, many schools commence work at 8am and pupils go home at 1pm. Yet in Germany we do not have the English problems of a rampant, widespread stupid teenage underclass who spend 10 years at school and learn nothing.
Teachers need space and time to develop their own intellectual lives so they can be respected by pupils and parents. They deserve to be paid a proper professional salary in order to attract the brightest and best.
One does not know whether to laugh or to cry when school careers advisors tell pupils with mediocre A-Level grades "Well, you can always go into teaching."
Yes, I agree that children are concentrated with each other over too longer a period. They need to interact with adults if they are to learn to behave like adults.
The problem with teacher salaries is that if they were paid like other professionals, then the country wouldn't be able to afford them. Even now, 75% of local authority taxation goes to education, and it is the problem of how to raise local taxation that finally ended the career of Mrs Thatcher as prime minister of Britain. Possibly if the earlier item about lacing food with contraceptives really happened and there were far fewer children, then we could afford to educate them properly.
But could the first generation of wanted children be able to support it's parents generation, being much larger in number, in retirement? Maybe the answer is life extension, and the abolition of ageing and death - and retirement!
If there was no retirement, what would actually happen? Once people amassed enough capital, then they would gravitate to occupations that they enjoy rather than pursue to make money. They would be more contented, and better at these occupations. With genuinely infinite lifespan, however poor you are you can save something, and if you do it long enough then you get capital. There is probably enough diversity in the human species to ensure that all vacancies would still be filled.
Jackson Seeks Solace in Psychics
The Mirror of 22 November ran a story that says that singer Michael Jackson consulted a psychic who told him that he would be re-incarnated when he died. At this news, he rushed off to inform his lawyers he wanted to leave his money to his next self.
If true, bad luck, Alcor!
Yes, and it looks as though they have lost Elizabeth Taylor as well. The News of the World Sunday Magazine carried a story on 11 November quoting the star as saying that she was intrigued by the press coverage, but soon decided that the only place for that piece is in the dustbin.
A new process that enables painless filling of teeth and bloodless gum surgery has been introduced by a Scottish lady dental surgeon, Louise Davidson. She is the first UK dentist to spend £35,000 on the equipment, imported from the USA. Patients are travelling hundreds of miles to visit her surgery, according to the story in Today of 31 October.
The laser beam will vaporise decayed tissue with no pain. However the drill still needs to be used to shape the cavity to take a filling.
Personally I would sound a caution here. The high speed drill was hailed as the answer for painless dentistry when it was introduced, and for a while dentists tried to get away without giving anaesthetics. But now everyone knows it isn't painless, and injections are given as a matter of routine. I cannot help but wonder whether the same can be said here. Only time will tell.
Certainly the saving of the costs of anaesthetics would soon justify the installation of laser equipment. The costs will rise with inflation, but equipment is paid for at a fixed price. Also, the costs of anaesthetics include risk costs, such as contracting infections which have to be covered by the practise's insurance premiums.
The article also said that roughly half the UK's population do not attend dental surgeries regularly, and every so often the British Dental Association tries to get more to go. The problem is, that dental surgeries are overworked already. If you ask for an appointment you usually have to wait quite some time. Just imagine what would happen if the other half of the population suddenly asked for appointments all at once!
Bristol Cancer Report False
A report published in The Lancet condemning the "gentle treatment" of cancer at the Bristol Centre as ineffective was admitted to be flawed. In a subsequent letter to The Lancet, the authors of the report, which stated that patients treated there did less well than those who submitted to surgery, admitted that they did not take into consideration the fact that many of the Bristol patients had more advanced forms of cancer at the start of treatment.
The centre is now considering legal action against The Institute of Cancer research who instigated the report. They say that admissions have fallen and they are having difficulty in renewing their indemnity insurance.
More Attacks on Deprenyl
Following the points raised at the European Cryonic Conference by press delegates that it may be irresponsible to promote the life extending properties of Deprenyl, The Independent carried a story in which Professor Merton Sandler, of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London, also condemned that use of the product. He said it was "highly irresponsible."
Maxwell Noble, a director of Britannia Pharmaceuticals which manufactures the drug in the UK said "As far as I am concerned any uses of this drug outside Parkinson's disease is very irresponsible. It's long term safety in healthy people is not known."
The story mentions that Deprenyl extends the lifespan of rats, but it is dangerous to extrapolate this to man. My comment would be that if you actually do the experiment on man, then anyone now living would be dead before the result was known, therefore the experiment is idiotic. It is only by extrapolation that we can make use of this effect, assuming that it exists.
Medical Leads to "7 Year Hell"
Mrs Sandra Evanson was falsely diagnosed as having breast cancer following a routine examination, according to a story in The Daily Mirror of 9 June. She then spent some 13 months in and out of cancer wards, loss of hair, and continual nausea due to six sessions of chemotherapy. In addition she had an ovary removed by surgeons in an unsuccessful search for the cancer. Only then was she told it was all a mistake. By that time her marriage had dissolved under the strain, and she is unlikely to be fit to work for five years.
At the health authority's trial, the judge order "very substantial damages" and also made an order for further damages to be assessed on loss of future earnings.
The mistake was caused by two samples being mixed up, but the hospital assured the court that the other patient's treatment was not compromised - it had been a confirmatory test and the patient was known to have cancer.
My comment is that if this is the case, why didn't they question the fact that the second test proved negative?
New Hope for Baldness
Scientists at Cambridge University, according to The Guardian of 26 October, have succeeded in growing human hair in a test tube.
Dr Michael Philpot said that the research would enable them to understand what makes hair grow and what goes wrong in baldness.
Surely what goes wrong in baldness is that testosterone makes hair grow on the body and fall out on the head, where it would do more good in protecting people from sunlight. A natural "side effect" if ever there was one!
However they also say the research will help women remove unwanted hair. Dr Terence Kealey said that he is not concerned about his own baldness, and finds the trauma huge numbers of men suffer when going bald difficult to understand.
Growth of hair in a test tube is something research teams have wanted to do for 70 years. The method involves using a synthetic blood substitute and an incubator. The decisive factor leading to the breakthrough was the method used to extract the tiny follicles from skin discarded in plastic surgery, without bruising them. (Also Evening Standard 25 October.)
Medical Checks Miss Fatal Signs
An article in The Sunday Correspondent on 28 October suggested that the current craze for annual medical examinations, costing up to £300, is misplaced. The tests performed often miss serious disease. For example, if one is going to go to this trouble, a sigmoidoscopic examination for colon cancer would seem worthwhile, the author says. But the connection with homosexuality and AIDS would make customers stay away so it is not included.
Also, some doctors say the psychological costs outweigh the benefits. A good result may bolster an unhealthy lifestyle, and an apparently bad result may cause unnecessary worry. Sight and hearing tests are superfluous, as most people are aware of defects in these senses. The chest X-ray rarely reveals abnormalities, and the risks outweigh the benefits. The heart ECG is of little value if resting only. However an exercise ECG ("Stress Test") takes time and expertise to evaluate, and of course there is always the risk that inexperienced operators may lose the patient through heart attack!
Professional Interests in Japan Encourage Botched Abortions
According to an article, The Sunday Correspondent Magazine of 4 November suggests that the Japanese medical profession has found abortions so profitable that they have raised real and imaginary objections to maintain a ban on contraceptive pills to maintain their business. Abortion was legalised in Japan in 1948 (UK -1967, USA - 1973) and created a lucrative industry for its doctors, according to the magazine. Two out of three Japanese women have had at least one abortion. Prices start at $800, and under qualified doctors often make mistakes, that lead to further profits for the profession as a whole when they are remedied.
More on SETI
After reading David Pizer's letter in The Immortalist offering a job to a technician to manage his private search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, I wrote to him repeating what I had read in literature put out by the Planetary Society. This seemed to indicate that the equipment required would be beyond the means and abilities of the individual. For one thing, a very large dish would be needed. However an item appeared in The Sunday Correspondent of 11 November to the effect that a private individual could set up his own SETI station for under $3,000. The equipment needed would include a satellite television dish, ($500) CR-R7000 VHF scanning receiver ($1,000)*, Personal Computer ($1,200), digitiser ($100) and low noise amplifier ($100). The article suggested that the set-up could be tuned to frequencies not covered by the NASA and Planetary Society's programme, and that "the chances of making arguably the greatest discovery of all time are surprisingly high".
What a delightfully imprecise statement. I can't help but wonder whether, if I were to get a receiver and connect it to the other bits (which I have already got), I could contact an ET before I can find a suitable girlfriend! (My present one is leaving, and probably suspects I'd have a better chance finding an ET than another girlfriend.)
The article also quoted from a book, which I have ordered, First Contact: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, edited by Ben Bova and Byron Preiss. (Headline Press $34) which contains a number of articles on the subject by different authors. Two of them are Dr Kent Cullers and Dr William Alschuler. The former is a member of ACS as far as I am aware.
The search for extra terrestrial intelligence has more than hobby interest for immortalists. One of the ways of curbing the warlike characteristics of races like humanity (apart from exterminating them) would be to give them the secret of immortality. People would be far less willing to risk indeterminate lives in battle as opposed to risking strictly finite lives.
* I checked the price of this item with Icom (UK) Ltd. Remember that the dollar prices quoted were £ prices in an English newspaper which I had roughly converted for the benefit of U.S. readers. The price of the receiver is actually $1,879 - nearly double the price quoted in the paper. If all the other prices are underestimated by 2:1, then clearly the cost of the whole project has been deliberately underestimated for journalistic effect.
If journalists are telling what amounts to lies for effect, then clearly the veracity of the whole article comes into question.
My original contention - that SETI is a project for large organisations - must most regretfully remain in force until at least I have received and read the book.
Permanent Health Insurance Ill Advised
An article in The Independent on 14 October revealed that permanent health insurance (PHI) often caused more worry than relief.
The reason is that although these policies are designed to provide an income whilst you are too ill to work, the definition of how ill you have to be varies according to which professional you ask and who is employing him! For example, a person may be fit to work, although the extra stress could shorten his life if he did work. That person would not get a payout from his policy, as it does not cover not working through risk to health. It only covers physical incapacity to work.
The article cited the example of a self employed man who had paid for PHI who had a heart attack. Although he survived, his doctor advised that he could have a fatal relapse if he remained in business. Therefore he sold his business. The tax authorities allowed his claim for retirement relief, and the Department of Health and Social Security accepted his case for invalidity benefit. However his insurers called him in for a medical examination, and their doctor said that he was fit to work.
A Natural Human Cool-Down
According to an article in the October issue of CQ magazine, one freezing night in March 1989 police in Manitoba found a woman alone in a car with no pulse or breathing. She was taken to hospital where a cardiac monitor showed no beat, and her fixed dilated pupils showed no brain activity.
But after a few hours the heartbeat returned, her blood pressure rose, and three days later she was discharged fit and well. She was unable to recall the events leading to her death. It was assumed that she had fallen asleep in the car and frozen to death. Because as the body cooled, the blood being pumped to the brain also cooled, its rate of metabolism was lowered. When the heart finally stopped the brain's requirement for oxygen was reduced to practically zero, and it can survive for some hours.
The article concludes that anyone found dead in freezing conditions should be first allowed time to warm up.
The Man With Three Brains
A London courier driver radioed for help when he began to feel faint when driving in London traffic. Another driver rushed to his help, only to find his van full of fumes. The fire brigade were called, and it was found that the fumes were formaldehyde leaking from parcels he was carrying. Their contents were found to be two human brains, which were being delivered to the Parkinson's Disease Society. A spokesman for the firm said it was a routine medical shipment.
PMT Herbal Treatment
An article in Health Shopper December 1990 hinted at research at Exeter University into claims that the herb Agnacast can help with pre menstrual tension. 600 women took the herb over a three month period, and the results are expected shortly. Agnacast Agnus Castus tablets are sold in the UK by Gerard House.
A world conference on garlic in Washington ended with the claim that garlic can reduce heart problems and the risk of cancer, said the same magazine as the item above. The conference called upon the world to increase its intake of garlic.
The Daily Express of 24 September reported on a dental conference at Newcastle upon Tyne. It was suggested that within two years toothpastes will be available that will contain anti-microbial agents that will make decay a thing of the past. However dental surgeons will still have work in extracting teeth from crowded mouths, and involvement with gum disease.
American doctor George Stookey, the research dean at Indiana University's school of dentistry, headed the team that first produced fluoride toothpaste. He has predicted that children of the future will grow up never experiencing the drill. He has no doubt that decay is absolutely controllable and within the next two years we will see pastes improved to such a point that the decline in decay will be even greater than in the past two years.
However he still cites regular visits to dental surgeons as a necessity to oral health. This is in interesting contrast to the finding that the half of the population who do not visit dentists have more teeth in old age than those who do. Of course unnecessary fillings performed for financial gain and possible artificial introduction of gum disease by improperly sterilised equipment may be more responsible for this result as opposed to any basic flaw in treatment techniques.
New Market Forces Threaten National Health Service in UK
An article in The South London Press, on 2 November detailed how the European Community (EC) may bring pressure to bear on the British government to improve its hospitals. Apparently citizens of member countries of the EC have the right to treatment in any member country's hospitals, and the bill is sent to the government of the country of domicile of the patient. Therefore if a British citizen cannot get the standard of treatment he wants in a British hospital he can apply to a Dutch or German one. If patients cannot afford to travel there, they can ask the hospital to collect them. The cost is added to the bill finally presented to the UK government!
The article concludes that if local hospitals find that hordes of patients are seeking expensive treatment abroad, and are having to lay off staff as a result, then they will soon study "the market" and improve their services. The writer calls for British people to take up this opportunity and stop winging about lack of facilities in the NHS.
My comment would be that most people would prefer to have treatment (as long as it was medically adequate) nearer home so that they could have visits from relatives and so that they wouldn't have a long journey to make going home whilst they were still feeling unwell after treatment. (I know treatment is supposed to make you feel well, but unfortunately modern medicine usually makes you a great deal iller before you start to get better, and it is not economic or efficacious to remain in hospital until you are completely fit.)
USSR Health Service Report
Dr Myles Harris filed a report in The Evening Standard on 1 November on similarities between the National Heath Services of the UK and USSR. A common factor to both was that the more government money fed to them, the more went to bureaucrats and non-medical professionals. He wasn't allowed to visit hospitals in the outskirts of Moscow, but although the central hospital was clean and said to be 120% occupied, drugs and facilities were out of date and in short supply. There were only 12 nurses instead of 20, and a single cleaner out of the 14 needed. Nurses pay was a third of that of an administrator on the railway. A doctor said that they could perform operations, but didn't have the aftercare facilities needed.
Water Fleas Survive Cryonic Suspension
An article in The Guardian reported on 14 December that Japanese scientists had succeeded in reviving water fleas frozen at -196oC for two weeks. The experiment was performed by Professor Ichiro Tanasawa at the University of Tokyo and was reported to be the first time that complete multi-cellular organisms had been frozen and revived. 90% of the fleas survived.
They were first chilled and submerged in a glycerin solution as cryo-protectant. The professor hoped to improve the process so that they have a 100% success rate with the fleas, and can use it for larger organisms.
He Got Better Anyway
Postman Dave Bowers, 33, retired after surgeons gave him only four years to live with diseased heart muscles, according to The Daily Mirror on 1 June. However he was put on the list for a heart transplant at world-famous Papworth hospital, London. When surgeons opened him up, however, they found that the heart muscle had healed. It seemed that the complete rest and giving up smoking his lungs had given his heart a chance to recover on its own. Needless to say they did not proceed with the transplant.
HRT Advantages Without Periods
A new drug etidronate has been suggested as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for women who risk osteoporosis. A double-blind trial on 400 women in America halved the number of fractures in women with bone loss. And for those with the worst condition, it cut the number of fractures by two thirds, and bone mass increased overall by 5% over the two years. A specialist at Guy's Hospital, London was quoted in the article, in Women's Realm as saying that etidronate can be used in cases where women can't use hormone replacement therapy for medical or personal reasons.
Hospital Overcharging Exposé Affects Prices
According to an article in The Observer on 3 June, BUPA, Britain's largest health insurer is to change its practices following a report in the same paper that the hospital it operates were charging, for example, £2 for one tablet of aspirin and £68 for an injection costing £4 at trade prices.
It defended its policy by stating that its overall profit was only a shade under 12%, but it acknowledges that it cross-subsidisation policy between departments had given rise to public concern.
Cow Lick Help Baldness
Me of 8 October described how a farmer's hair grew back due to licking by one of his cows. It was suggested that both human and animal saliva contains a chemical known as epidermal growth factor which stimulates hair growth.
Bananas for Starters
An article in the Medical Journal of Australia has advised that eating bananas at the start of a meal can have positive benefits and keep ulcers at bay. Bananas provide an effective protective lining to the stomach, which is weak or lacking in some people, according to Professor Brian Hills.
In an article in Today on January 7, food expert Sheila Kitzinger is quoted as saying that banana is also good for pregnant women who suffer heartburn. They also quote nutrition expert Maurice Hanssen as saying that we ought to revolutionise eating habits by making bananas a starter instead of a pudding. The also say that tennis professionals have claimed benefits from eating a banana a day.
Professional Profits from French Deaths
An article in The Standard on 4 January detailed how the laws surrounding death have netted huge profits for professionals. This arose from a law passed in 1904 that made each of France's 36,000 communes (local authorities) responsible for burying people who died within their borders. Many communes responded by striking deals that gave undertakers and exclusive concession in exchange for taking over what was seen as an awkward duty.
This has enabled some undertaking firms to grow absurdly rich and powerful. The largest, Pompes Funebres Generales, is one of France's top 50 companies, and buries a third of a million people per year.
The country is afflicted by stacks of antique inheritance laws. At the instant of death, the deceased's bank account and holdings are frozen until all the claims are in, which can take years. Deaths have to be reported immediately to the local mayor. Permission to bury depends of a detailed medical certificate and the deceased's livret de famille a kind of family log book.
However a renegade from France's wealthiest retailing family has challenged this by opening a "supermarket" dealing with all aspects of death. Michael Leclerc is challenging the government head on, and technically his operation is illegal. He says death should be demystified. Dealing with it has become a racket, and it should be simplified and made affordable. People have even been known to commit suicide rather than face the prospect of making arrangements for a death.
His funeral "supermarket" - which could pass for a food store with its bright lights and piped pop music - offers customers everything they need at around half the price of competitors. But the problems faced by the operation are enormous, and if the violence that erupts in France when food and agriculture monopolies are threatened is anything to go by, French undertakers are in for interesting times!
Economic Effect of Litigation
According to Texan researcher Stephen Magee, working at the University of Texas and the University of Chicago, litigation costs the United States ten percent of its gross national product. He has constructed an economic model which tracks per capita real GNP growth in 26 countries between 1960-1985. He finds that GNP growth is negatively related to the percentage of white collar workers who are lawyers in each country.
The US congress is aware of the situation, but each time legislation is introduced to limit the economic damages, such as limiting the number of lawsuits or the damages awardable, it is defeated by intense lobbying by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. This is according to an article in The Independent on 6 January. Mr Magee's solution is to cut entry to the US bar by 20%, and to impose a 20% federal tax on excessive claims. This if the plaintiff sues for $1m and received only $200,000 then he would be penalised by 20% of the excess claim, ie $800,000, giving him a tax bill of $160,000.
Mr Magee acknowledges cheerfully that it would take a dictator to impose his solution, and he offers it to make a point rather than as a serious option.
My comment is that the "solution" attacks the victims of the law, ie the litigants. Surely it would more sensible to find a way to attack the profits of the profession in a way that cannot be passed to clients.
Most professions that extort clients claim that they have to do this to compensate the relative poverty of their members during long training periods. Reducing the Bar intake is likely to exacerbate this, because providers of training can further increase the rigour without losing entrants.
I would propose lateral thinking here - make the training easier and less onerous, thereby reducing the justification for extortion.
Making legal advice cheap relative to the average wage would enable people to take such advice before taking action that could lead to court cases, thus reducing the waste of resources by litigation.
After all, such a situation already exists in traffic law. People don't have to pay to know where the speed limits and no parking zones are - this information is free.
Likewise information with regards to business partnerships, wills, trusts etc should be free or at least available at a cost commensurate with the costs of other information or manufactured goods.
A conference to be held in Mexico in April will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of bad breath. This is usually due to dental microorganisms originally designed to decay teeth, which also give off hydrogen sulphide and methylmercaptan, the latter being the most revolting smelling chemical known to man.
Dr Mel Rosenberg, head of the Laboratory of Oral Microbiology at Tel Aviv claims that bad breath strikes more than 80% of the world's adult population. Together with colleague Dr Jacob Gabbay he has developed a portable monitor to measure how smelly breath is. He believes that he will soon know how to exterminate the micro organism. The secret cure will almost certainly be oil-based, but until April in Mexico the world will have to hold its breath, says The Observer on 30 December.
They also say that anyone who can find a genuine cure will pose a headache for the drug companies who are making a fortune from temporary palliatives like Eludril or Listerine.
An added bonus may be the destruction of the toothache bacteria!
Hoodlums are Ugly
Texas boasts the best looking jailbirds in the world, according to The Sunday Sport. This is because jail authorities there believe that released cons are less likely to commit crimes again if they look good. More attractive people are more likely to be accepted back into US society.
However the program is now being cut back, and Howard Shaffer (20 years, robbery) is suing the prison for $1m for emotional suffering. Support was withdrawn when only half his head had been treated for baldness by means of hair transplants!
A serious comment is that this ties in with material originally brought to my attention in Cryonics and discussed by me in this column that sexually frustrated men are more likely to commit violent crimes.
Cypriot Professional Interests sends USSR Peter the First Floating Eye Hospital on it's Way
According to The Mail On Sunday dated 4 November, the Cypriot medical profession became alarmed when 1,000 local people flocked to a Russian ship anchored off the island, offering eye surgery. The ship was operated by Floks, the eye clinic based on the work of Svyatsclav Fyodorov, who pioneered eye surgery for sight defects.
As well as curing sight defects, it also treated patients with cataract and glaucoma. The Cypriot health minister said that there were no complaints and the treatment was of high standard. But the Russians had been told that they could only stay for a short while. During that period, people had flown from Britain to obtain surgery they couldn't get there. Included amongst them was an 85 year old retired banker who was merely give a white stick by the NHS for his glaucoma induced blindness. After treatment on Peter the First he was able to read a newspaper for the first time in years.
This type of surgery has had its detractors. It was offered at a clinic in London some years back and a television programme interviewed clients whose sight had deteriorated. Whereas they had been able to see though their glasses, after surgery it was as though they were looking through a crumpled polythene sheet.
As an alternative to physical cutting, a British team is experimenting with laser surgery to reform the lens of the eye.
A New Oral Contraceptive?
A report in the magazine Essentials dated November revealed work by Dr Michael Collins, director of the Lady Welfare Clinic, London. He previously worked as a consultant in gynaecological Endocrinology at Canada's McMaster University, and there he noticed that several female Canadian athletes had raised amounts of carotene in their bloodstreams. Their intake of vitamin A was attributed to their raw food low calorie diets. Dr Collins said that the high level of vitamin A excites the central nervous system and is slightly addictive. But high levels in the blood affect the pituitary gland, and this caused lack of ovulation, hence infertility and irregular and infrequent periods.
New Spare Parts Threat to Cryonics
Richard Villar, consultant surgeon at Addenbrroke's Hospital in Cambridge, is pioneering a new technique for those whose hips have been destroyed by arthritis. He and his colleagues have been transplanting large bones from dead people for the past six months, said The Independent on Sunday on 13 January. He said that the bones can be cut out of the cadaver without altering its appearance, and can be stored in a deep freeze for up to five years. He says that tissue typing is not necessary, and rejection is not a problem. However there is some immune response, and interestingly this is lessened when a frozen bone is used.
US Scientists Declare Passive Smoking a Killer
The Independent on Sunday of 13 January also carried a story concerning the pronouncements of Professors Stanton Glanz and William Parmley of the University of California, San Francisco. They found that non-smokers who lived with a lung smoker ran a 30% high chance of suffering heart disease. Lung smokers run three to four times the chance of dying from heart disease compared to passive smokers.
British scientists had believed for a long time that passive smoking causes a risk of lung cancer. They accept that the partners of smokers had a high risk of heart disease, but had falsely attributed it to a shared unhealthy lifestyle.
However Glanz and Parmley have studied cases of passive smoking from around the world, and concluded that as lifestyles were so varied amongst their subjects that theory can be ruled out.
Professor Glanz also said that the risks due to passive smoking at work were even more severe, because people are packed together more closely and for longer periods than at home.
Slipped Disc Outpatients 80% Success.
Dr Souheil Saddenki, associate professor of radiology at St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York has been treating slipped disks with a new laser treatment that is said to be more effective than bed rest, physical therapy and drugs.
A needle is inserted into the centre of the protruding disc under X-ray and a optical fibre then passed into it. A laser blast then vaporises a small portion of the disc, relieving pressure on spinal nerves.
The treatment takes 30 minutes and can be given in an outpatients' department. In the majority of cases of slipped disc the problem is self limiting within three months. When conservative measures fail, the alternatives are surgery to achieve the same effect as the laser, but there are risks involved.
The Mail on 4 January suggested that some of America's most unhealthy lifestyles belong to doctors. One in five never exercise and 11% drink intoxicating beverages every day. Only 50% consult another doctor about their problems. The study by Charles Lewis of the University of California went on to say that fewer than half were immunized against hepatitis, pneumonia or flu, although they are frequently contaminated by these diseases in the course of their work.
Dr Lewis says that physicians who are themselves "health nuts" are more likely to give sound advice. A pity the Life Extension Foundation never really managed to produce its country wide network of Life Extension Doctors. If it had done so, this work would have been a good advertisement for them.
Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring Saves Drugs
People under stress have elevated blood pressure, and a visit to the doctor is a stressful experience. Hence blood pressure readings taken at the doctor's surgery can often be misleading. Often a life insurance examination, for example, may be the start of a period of drug treatment that may not really be needed.
The costs conscious NHS has now got an answer - small electronic recording blood pressure monitors, according to a report in The Weekly News, 5 January. The patient wears these for a few days, and the doctor then gets an overall picture of the variation throughout the day. This much more accurate method gives a truer picture of the patient's state of health and the advisability of medical intervention.
Got Any Gum, Chum?
An article in The Independent on 15 January discussed a controversy around chewing gum. On the one hand, sales have risen since it has been marketed as an aid to dental hygiene. It is suggested that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal increases saliva secretion and thereby reduces mouth acids and tooth decay.
On the other hand, it is also mentioned that the gum contains hydrocarbons that could be a health hazard.
However few people actually swallow the gum itself, and since the habit was introduced some years ago any serious problems would have shown up in the statistics by now, as they have with lung smoking.
British Scientists Find Clue to BSE
According to The Independent on 5 March, British government scientists working at the Central Vetinary Laboratory, Weybridge, Surrey, have found a possible cause to the outbreak of BSE. BSE, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is the disease also known as "Mad Cow Disease" or "British AIDS" whose purpose is to destroy vital nerve connections in the brain. Obviously its design causes a severe threat to cryonics.
John Wilesmith, writing in Vetinary Record, says that the cause is a cessation of the use of solvents such as benzene, petroleum spirit, hexane, perchloroethane and trichloroethylene to remove fat from carcasses. the fat was used to produce tallow, but the price of tallow fell making its manufacture uneconomic.
It appears that the solvents, or a combination of their use with heat treatment, exterminated the virions that cause BSE. This theory ties in with the dates the disease first appeared. Also, in Scotland solvents are still used, and the incidence of BSE is lower there.
The Guardian of 1 February reported that the Minister of Agriculture had warned that all burials of BSE contaminated carcasses should stop immediately. They could contaminate the ground for years. More than 22,000 cattle have now perished from the disease (or been killed as a result of having it) and it is believed that farmers have been burying them in shallow graves since slaughtermen are charging for the disposal of these carcasses.
Cryonic Zoo Meets with Revival Objections
A proposal on the BBC science program Horizon to freeze sperms and eggs from animal species to repopulate the wild after the demographic explosion may exterminate many species was met with hostility by some commentators. The Independent on 5 March suggested that future generations "would find it much more convenient to keep the animals in the bottle for ever."
British Alzheimer's Disease Research
Dr Mike Mullan, of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, has found a mutation in some people that produce amyloid, a protein known to form deposits in the brains of some Alzheimer's disease patients. Amyloid is part of the body's ageing program, and also starts degenerative illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr Mike Owen, of the University of Wales, says that the work may make research into a pharmacological treatment more directed and rational. (The Times 16 February)
Oh Death, Here is Thy Sting
Two old men were at the internment of a friend at a Scottish village. Just before the coffin was lowered into the ground, one put a £10 note on it.
"Why did you do that?" asked the other.
"I owed it to him, and I didn't want him to go to his last resting place without the debt being repaid."
The first Scotsman man thought for a second, and then said "I've just remembered - I also owed him a tenner." He whipped out his cheque book and wrote a cheque for £20, put it on the coffin and pocketed the £10 change. (Sunday Sport, 15 February.)
Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring Saves Drugs
People under stress have elevated blood pressure, and a visit to the doctor is a stressful experience. Hence blood pressure readings taken at the doctor's surgery can often be misleading. Often a life insurance examination, for example, may be the start of a period of drug treatment that may not really be needed.
The costs conscious NHS has now got an answer - small electronic recording blood pressure monitors, according to a report in The Weekly News, 5 January. The patient wears these for a few days, and the doctor then gets an overall picture of the variation throughout the day. This much more accurate method gives a truer picture of the patient's state of health and the advisability of medical intervention.
Canadian Scientists Pinpoint Pain Centre
An undated article in the Daily Telegraph by their science correspondent Roger Highfield described work by Dr Alan Evans of the Montreal Neurobiological Unit.
Dr Evans and his team used a scanning system called positron emission tomography to watch the brain at work whilst volunteers were subjected to a heat generating device attached to their forearms just above the pain threshold.
The scanner picked up gamma rays from a radioactive substance injected into the volunteers before the experiment. The researchers compared the activity of the brain when the subject was at ease and when made to feel pain. They pinpointed the pain centre to the limbic system. It had been previously thought that another area -the thalamus was more centrally involved. But they found a stronger response in the cingulate cortex. This is the same region responsible for other vital sensations like sex drive and hunger.
I have two comments here: one is that people likely to volunteer for such experiments could be masochists, and therefore a result that an area known to be responsible for sex could be giving misleading results.
I have written in the past that it would be useful and beneficial to switch the sex drive on an off at will. Despite the fact that Dr Evans says pain is an important warning signal, it is also worthwhile to switch that on and off at will. After all, I expect everyone has seen those films about aircraft or space vehicles when a piercing alarm goes off, and the first thing the commander does is to order someone to switch it off!
Zehse's Methods Used by Avon Cosmetics
The Daily Telegraph of 16 March revealed that the competitors of Avon Cosmetics have accused it of sifting their dustbins for new perfume recipes. Perfumers Mary Kay and Richmont have started legal action against Avon alleging that Avon and two detective agencies "improperly obtained" company secrets by searching through rubbish at Richmont's headquarters in Dallas. (note - Mike Zehse gets his clippings from newspapers thrown out for the dustman in a London block of flats.)
Inverted Life Insurance
A letter appeared in The Daily Mirror on 12 March from a man aged 84 who said that he wanted to bet £100 that he would reach the age of 100 years, and asked whether he should approach a bookmaker or insurance broker.
He was told by the newspaper that a bookmaker "would take his money quickly enough". However he might still get life insurance to pay out on his 100th birthday.
I cannot help but wonder whether this advice is correct, because the life insurance would pay out on his 100th birthday alright, but it would also pay out whenever he perished. Presumably what he wants is a nice lot of money if he lives, but he couldn't care what happens if he doesn't. On that basis, he should get quite a lot, as at present the number of people reaching a hundred years of age, although increasing, is still relatively small.
The concept of "insurance" paying out at a certain age if you reach it, or paying nothing if you don't, would be of great value to cryonicists. They could budget their needs to a certain age and provide for them, and transfer any remaining money to their suspension fund.
When and if they reach that age, instead of being skint, they'd have the bet or insurance to live off, and provided the age was improbably large, they should also make a good profit on their stake. That profit would also be anthropic, ie it would only be present if they were there to receive it: but if they weren't there they'd know nothing about it.
British Media Catch on to Smart Foods
An article in The Mail on Sunday exemplifies media interest in mind boosting beverages and "herbal hits" for new age highs. Alcohol and drugs are "naff".
Holland and Barrett are marketing Gusto, which mixes ginseng and guarana "Mind Peak herbs" with apple juice and kola nuts. This is said to be taking Britain by storm. Pearson & Shaw's concoctions such as Choline Cooler are being marketed by Mark Healey, as well as their Blast. However the paper reports that the government are getting interested in the possibilities of some excitement for their officers by enmeshing the products in legal wrangles and prohibitions. They held up a consignment and the paper wonders whether they are having an analytical brainstorm or are simply stoned out of their tiny minds.
Lower Death Rate Hits Funeral Company
The Telegraph on 19 January reported that a lower than expected death rate caused shares in the PGF Hodgson Kenyon, the multinational company formed by the merger between Hodgson Holdings, Kenyon Securities, and the French Pompes Funèbres Générales company. In "a very mutual, very happy agreement" whiz kid Howard Hodgson resigned his position as chief executive of the group after board disagreements. Despite the fact the he got $10.2 million for his shares in the merger, he will also be getting a $350,000 compensation for loss of office.
I must comment here that I am totally opposed to the modern practise of redundancy payments. They seem to indicate that people are not paid properly for the job in the first place. They should be paid sufficient so that they have some saving to fall back on in the eventuality of the job ceasing. In this particular case, of course, the redundancy payment is quite simply ridiculous and merely sets what is in my view an unwanted precedent.
First Human Burial Rites
An article in The Independent on 1 December detailed an excavation carried out by British scientists as a site in Spain. At Atapuerca, 140 miles north of Madrid, they found remains of 14 human bodies dating back 350,000 years. The humans were not homo sapiens but a form of Neanderthal Man.
It was suggested that this site may have been the first scene of humans evolving rituals concerning death, and thoughts of religion.
Imelda Marcos and Her Frozen Husband
An article in the Standard dated 10 January detailed how Mrs Marcos, whose assets are being auctioned by the Philippines Government in an attempt to recover the Marcos Millions, kept her husband on ice after death. She gave his preserved corpse a lavish birthday party last September. She told her guests how she changed his shirt twice a week so he always looked his best.
FDA Hold up Alzheimer's Treatment
The FDA were reported in The Guardian on 1 February has having denounced claims that the drug THA could counteract the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
However a British researcher, who admits that the initial report was seriously flawed, believes that the drug itself has some serious value. THA is also known as tacrine in the US, and Cognex in the UK. There have been reports that the drug causes liver damage.
Professor Levy, of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, said the original report was "methodological rubbish", but in spite of this THA may have some value for particular patients.
Imperial Cancer Research Investigate Vitamins and Lung Smoking
800 women volunteers are being sought for studies as to whether vitamins may be protective against cervical cancer, and also how smoking the lungs increases the risk of cancer of the cervix.
In the first study, 200 women with mild cervical abnormality will be given vitamin C, beta carotene and Vitamin E for a year, whilst 200 will receive placebos. The second study will involve 400 women lung smokers with mild abnormalities who are willing to give up smoking for a year.
The volunteers will be required to attend at the Royal Northern Hospital, London, four times for tests. Of course these studies often produce misleading results inasmuch as people become aware of the value of vitamins and are worried that they are being given the placebo, and go out and buy vitamins for themselves.
Glaxo Migraine Black Market
Glaxo's new wonder cure for throbbing heads is so far only available in New Zealand, but according to The Independent on 1 March there is a thriving black market for the drug in the UK.
Sinister People Die Young
Stanley Coren, a right-handed psychologist at the University of British Columbia has led a team who examined the records of 987 people who died in Southern California and sent questionnaires about handedness to the deceased relatives. They said that the right handers, 94% of the group, died at an average age of 75, but the average age attained by the left handers was only 65 years.
Mr Coren said that the findings were statistically valid, and theorised that left handed people die sooner as a result of accidents or whilst driving. However the article does not say whether the cause of death in the sample was investigated and catalogued. An obvious thing to do, I should have thought.
New Area for Extortionists
The Sunday Times of 7 April reports that Italian criminals, whose kidnapping operations have been severely damaged by recent laws freezing the assets of kidnap victims, have resorted to stealing corpses from graves. The new laws do not cover dead bodies. The paper says that they are exploiting Italy's age old cultura di morte - the cult of the dead, in which the deceased are obsessively revered.
Recently the remains of a woman were seized by the gangsters, who were said by an official to be hoping that if her widower didn't pay up the £2.5 million, one of her three sons would.
Church of England Opposes Mormon Record Gathering
The Mormon Church of Jesus of the Latter Day Saints, Utah, is attempting to create a computer database of all the ancestors of their present members. It is widely believed that the religion then conducts divine service known as The Baptism of the Dead where the deceased souls are brought into the Mormon church.
Last year the British Mormons began a project to transfer the 1881 census containing 27 million name onto computer records, costing £16 million.
Some Church of England Bishops tried to deny the Mormons access to their records, on the grounds that it is interfering with the souls of dead Anglicans the Mormons wish to acquire.
My comment here is that if these people are daft enough to make a fuss over this, then what will they make of cryonics!
Woman Denied Hospital Information Because of Litigation Fears
A woman who has two sons and is pregnant wants to know if she is carrying a baby girl. However although Barnet General Hospital, London, had carried out an ultrasonic scan, they refused to tell her the sex of her child. Baby specialist Harvey Wagman told The Standard (2 April) "If you get it wrong in today's litigious society, you get sued."
Unintelligent Mensa Article on Brain Transplants
Like most societies, mensa, the society for those who pass an IQ test, has a monthly magazine. In Mensa Magazine of April, 1991, Henry Blandon discussed brain transplants.
He points out that many parts of the body can be exchanged with second hand replacements if they fail. However so far this has not been done with the brain.
His speculation verges on the absurd as he speculates about the soul and discusses giving a university mathematician the brain of a plumber, and then says it wouldn't do him much good as he would lose his mathematical abilities. (I wonder why he chose a university mathematician!)
He then speculates about recording the contents of the original brain on a computer system and then replaying it into the donor brain, to get over that particular difficulty. Discussion then went on to a film called Total Recall, which apparently was about brain transplants and relied on mindless violence for entertainment.
From some of the things Mr Blandon said it appears that he is a knowledgeable man, with the exception of nanotechnology. However his grasp of the realities behind brain recording and transfer had not been thought through particularly well.
Brando Won't Swear on God
When giving evidence in a court case concerning his son, actor Marlon Brando refused to take the oath. "I will not swear on God because I do not believe in the conventional god ... but I will swear on my children and grandchildren."
The first statement makes him a possibility for cryonics, the latter less so. Many people who don't believe in an afterlife seem to take comfort in the idea of continuance through their issue. Quite why, I haven't the foggiest idea. Maybe someone can explain it one day.
Bogus Surgeon Unmasked in the Gulf
An American, Mr Gerry Flint, convinced medical authorities and genuine surgeons in Kuwait that he was an ophthalmic surgeon who had graduated from the George Washington University.
He appeared to be an authoritative eye surgeon, and even performed a five hour operation on a child's eye with a television camera team present.
However he was eventually confronted by an unnamed American who denounced his deception, and he was being questioned at the American embassy in Kuwait on 14 March when this article appeared in The Times. The Kuwaiti authorities seized his passport and the doctor's identity card he had been using.
Frozen Pet Revivals
The Daily Mirror of 12 February carried a short report detailing how schoolboy Kevin Savage found his pet cockatiel frozen in the garden. Just as he was about to bury it, he thought that he saw an eye flicker, and he prized open its beak and breathed into its mouth. Seconds later, it flapped its wings.
The same article also detailed how a goldfish in Killarney, Ireland, revived after it's bowl had frozen solid. It's owner melted the ice in a pan.
Bureaucratic Wrangles Over Bloodless Surgery
Guy's Hospital in London gets extra government money for heart surgery. However, because the new laser treatment, which uses catheters and laser beams to avoid opening up the chest, is not legally classed as surgery, the money is not forthcoming for the operations. The Daily Mirror of 12 February reports that the conventional operation costs three times as much. Laser surgery reduces risks, causes less pain, leaves virtually no scar, and means a speedier recovery.
Zehse Published in The Voice
Here is the text of a letter that Mike Zehse managed to get published in a newspaper called The Voice dated 18 December:
I must object to the way that you lump together three brothers as "evil" when only one of them has done a really evil deed, ie murder. ("Family of Shame", The Voice 13 November.)
The other two brothers were merely dealing in cannabis. How many Voice readers would regard that as evil? Not many, I think!
What about the executives of multi-national tobacco companies who are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year? What about executives of brewing companies? Think of the untold misery and illness caused by alcohol abuse.
Yet, instead of going to prison, these fag and booze "pushers" end up getting knighthoods and peerages, especially when their companies donate large sums of money to the Tory Party.
The Callous Nature of the Surgical Profession
Jennifer Tracey received a pre-med injection before her gall bladder operation at the Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield, and woke up two hours later. At first she was delighted, feeling no pain and thinking it was all over. Then she was told that she had not had the operation as the surgeon had run out of time. A previous operation had taken longer than expected. She was sent home and told to come back in three weeks time. Then she was put off again, according to the article in The Daily Mirror of 7 February.
Funeral Continues While a Mourner Lies Dead in the Aisles
The Sun on 26 March carried a story detailing how a funeral continued after a mourner collapsed and died of a heart attack. The Vicar said "The Church Service is like the theatre - the play must go on."
Vitamin E and Male Infertility
Trials are underway at the Medical Research Council reproductive biology unit in Edinburgh to see if vitamin E supplements can reverse infertility in men. Dr John Aitken explains that in some cases sperm produce up to 40 times the normal level of hydrogen peroxide, damaging the sperm. He hopes that the vitamin E will counteract this. (Bella 16 February.)
Hawking Hurt in Traffic Accident
Stephen Hawking, the disabled physicist and author of A Brief History of Time was "satisfactory" in hospital on 7 March after being hurt in a collision between his electric wheelchair and a car, according to The Sun.
Professor Hawking has been criticised in the past in The Immortalist for focussing his interest away from his own survival and rehabilitation through cryonics to abstruse speculations about the universe as a whole.
Hyperthermic AIDS Treatment
The Sunday Mirror of 10 June, 1990, carried a story in which a homosexual dying of AIDS was treated successfully by pumping his blood through a heat exchanger keeping it at 108oC for four hours. He was changed from a dying man into an HIV negative. No one seems sure why the process worked, because the disease would by all accounts remain active in the lymph nodes.
The treatment was performed at Dr William Logan's clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. Critics are concerned that this one anecdote may raise false hopes, and that the treatment does carry risks of heart and lung damage.
My comment would be if the patients are dying anyway, and no other cure is available, the risks of heart and lung damage are irrelevant.
Beating Funereal Hyperinflation
An article in The Sun of 19 February detailed how poet Mike Brassington has paid £500 to have a lump of lakeland rock cut into a replica of bard William Wordsworth's gravestone.
Mr Brassington, 48, is aware that inflation would make the stone cost thousands of pounds if he were to live another 30 years. He keeps the headstone in his garage, and polishes it once a week.
His latest book of poems is called A Head of Our Time and he is quoted as stating "that's how I want to stay."
AIDS-like Virus May Cause Arthritis
The Times of 24 November 1990 reported work by Dr Robert Garry, of Tulane University, Louisiana on the discovery of a retrovirus that causes Sjogren's Syndrome, a form of arthritis that also results in dry eyes and mouth. The disease is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, a disease designed to attack connective tissue. He believes that the virus he has discovered may be responsible for all these diseases, and it works by making the body's immune system attack it's own tissues.
Patients studied by Dr Garry also showed positive in some AIDS tests, although general examination shows them not to be infected with AIDS. If he is successful with further work, he hopes it may be possible to make a vaccine against the virus.
More Cremation Problems
An article in Midweek of 30 May said that researchers in Copenhagen discovered that a quarter of a ton of mercury vapour in the atmosphere is derived from the dental fillings of cremated people. This is 6% of Denmark's airborne total.
Britain Ranks 14th in Death Rate League - Government to Act
According to the Sunday Express of 2 June, Britain ranked 14th in a recent life expectancy survey out of 33 developed countries. The average Briton can now expect to live 75 years, four months, an increase of two years and four months in the last six years.
However Health Secretary William Waldegrave has launched a national debate on how to help Britain live longer. He wants to find out why some parts of the country - or other countries - have different health rates. Also under investigation is the cause of "avoidable" deaths.
The debate is expected to cause controversy: for example opinions differ as to whether heart disease is caused by lung smoking, cholesterol rich diets, or stress through job pressures or an unsatisfactory personal relationship.
Likely results of the strategy will include higher taxes on tobacco and tougher policies on alcohol abuse. Sales of these drugs to young people will also face tighter controls.
Government ministers hope that the debate will provide a new mission for the National Health Service, making it a genuine health service, instead of a disease correction service.
Burning of Paintings Loyal to Van Gogh
Continuing the saga of Mr Ryoci Saito, the Japanese businessman who has left instructions for his old master paintings to be burned on his death, The Evening Standard published a letter from a Mr Walter Anchio on 23 May.
Mr Anchio said that Mr Van Gogh would have been horrified at the commercialism surrounding his work today. Van Gogh worked in poverty and even whilst he was alive his work was exploited by the 19th century art world. he would have been disgusted, according to Mr Anchio, at the prices his works fetch today.
The cremation of the paintings owned by Mr Saito would be loyal to Van Gogh's anti-materialist spirit, said the letter writer.
Composer's Head Severed on Death
The classical composer Joseph Hayden's head was severed upon his death to put a curious phrenologist "in touch with genius", according to an item in The Evening Standard of 20 May. The paper said that the "scientific exhibit" had now been placed with the rest of his remains at the little Austrian town of Eisenstadt.
David Lean Burned: Ashes Scattered to the Four Corners of the Globe
Readers of Bob Brakeman's writings on the immortalist implications of the entertainment industry will be aware both of Sir David Lean's film The Bridge on the River Kwai and the islands of French Polynesia.
Sir David Lean was the director of The Bridge on the River Kwai in which Mr Brakeman found anti-death sentiments. He also shared Mr Brakeman's fondness of French Polynesia, and was particularly enamoured of Bora Bora. Mr Monty Brown, manager of the Hotel Bora Bora, said that Sir David was fascinated by the island to the last, and frequently stayed at the hotel.
Despite the Kwai sentiments, Sir David Lean didn't choose cryonics, but annihilation by burning, and on his death in April his remains were burned to ashes. He left instructions that his ashes were to be scattered to the four corners of the globe - literally. The lengthy and complicated pilgrimage fell to Lady Lean, the former Sandra Cooke, whom he met whilst shopping at Harrods, the London store. They married last year.
The ashes are to be scattered in several parts of the world, India, Tahiti and Italy being among them. [The Mail 14 May.]
New Pill Heralds End to Prostate Operations
The Observer of 12 May carried an article by Jeremy Hammand, author of Prostate Problems: the Complete Guide to their Treatment that suggests a major breakthrough is on the horizon in the treatment of enlarged prostate.
The work results from observations made on patients suffering a deficiency of the steroid 5-alpha-reductase. As children these patients have ambiguous sexuality, and it is only at puberty they present as men. In adulthood, these men develop only a tiny prostate, their hairline does not recede, and they do not get acne. The reason for this is that the substance that is responsible for these disadvantages of maleness is not the male hormone testosterone but a metabolite thereof, dihydro-testosterone.(DHT)
If men are given a substance that inhibits the metabolism of testosterone into DHT then they will not suffer these ills but still retain the essentials of their masculinity.
One such product is Proscar, the name given by Merck Sharp and Dohme to the chemical finasteride. Tests at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London have shown that a twice a day dose of only 5mg has a dramatic effect in 40% of men with benign enlargement, actually shrinking the prostate by about 30% and improving urinary flow and other symptoms to near normal levels.
Regretfully the drug is not a cure: once ceased, the prostate enlarges to its previous size within a week or so. However the NHS spends $165 million a year on prostate operations, so there is plenty of money to be saved if the drug is cheaper. And like Minoxidil, its greatest use may be in its side effects! The paper says that it can even be given to women who wish to reduce their body hair.
Ludovic Kennedy to be Eaten to Nothing by Fishes
According to an article in The Sunday Express of 28 April, the broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy has made arrangements for his body to be placed in a biodegradable coffin drilled with fish sized holes and buried at sea outside the 12 mile limit. The latter part is so that duty free alcoholic beverages may be served to the mourners.
Mr Kennedy is said to be angry at spiralling funeral costs, and regards urban crematoria as "awful, disgusting places". "I want to be cast adrift on the watery womb of the ocean from which we all sprang." said the broadcaster.
Mr Kennedy is a director of the Britannia Shipping Company for Burial at Sea. The price of a burial with his company? $1,700!
Call for Gentle Dentistry
A letter in June's Health Now commenting on a previous article about "gentle medicine" asked whether there was a gentle method of scaling teeth. The writer said that the present method of scraping with an iron prong or vibrating needle is barbaric, and he leaves sessions with sore and bleeding gums.
I wonder whether the contention that the 50% of the population who don't attend for regular dental treatment have more teeth in old age is because of the transfer of gum disease by these treatments - although their intention is to prevent it. Drawing blood as a medical treatment is surely something that went out with the leaches of the middle ages!
Reincarnation Discussed in Woman
The June 10 issue of Woman had a double page feature on reincarnation. This is of interest because in this secular age many people who don't believe in religion or the resurrection of Christ often comfort themselves with a belief in reincarnation. This belief is reinforced with television and press reports of seemingly irrefutable cases that prove reincarnation beyond all doubt.
Woman carried two articles, one opposing the other proposing the case. The "for" article was by Penny Thornton, author of Forces of Destiny which argues the case for reincarnation. Her arguments were all based on anecdotes, together with philosophy that proof of reincarnation would make us all be nicer to each other.
The opposition article was by Roman Catholic convert Ian Wilson. Life other instance of psychic investigation, he started out with no string views either way. As he studied cases, he felt that the evidence seemed strong, and became enthusiastic. however, each time he dug really deep into a case he found a rational (ie non-reincarnation) explanation. He says that when you see a videotape of new cases it appears that they would be impossible to disprove, but when examined in detail they fall apart.
The problem is, of course, that there are far more cases than Mr Wilson or any of his colleagues could possibly investigate thoroughly, therefore the proposers always have "irrefutable" cases to fall back on.
I must say that all this closely parallels my experiences with the Voice Phenomena or Raudive Voices, where people claimed to hear the voices of the dead on their tape recorders.
People are desperate to believe that there is life after death and often view these ideas without as much criticism as they should.
The problem with cryonics is, of course, that one has to do more than just believe in order to survive.
Solicitor Risks Premature Unfreezing
According to The Daily Express of 26 May, English solicitor Mr Arthur Rooke fell off the Matterhorn 82 years ago into a deep crevasse in the Zmut glacier. Since then, the perfectly preserved body has edged down the mountain, and mathematical estimates suggests that he is about to emerge into the light.
Fashion designer Mr John Walford, a descendant, is expecting a telegram from Zermatt and plans to fly out with a welcoming committee the day Arthur is sighted.
One can only hope the calculations are wrong and Mr Rooke emerges in about 300 years time. Then, just maybe, he'd get a quite different welcome. One that he could really appreciate.
The Varied and Depressing Beliefs in the Afterlife According to Christians
The Telegraph on 1 June discussed the debate within the Christian religion about their version of post mortem survival. The Anglican's Archbishop of York, Dr Habgood, has said that "Hell is not an objective reality - not a place or state created by God as a means of executing his justice. We are well rid of those horror pictures of souls in torment and the devils with their toasting forks, which blighted the lives of so many of our forebears." He concludes that Hell exists, but as a "subjective reality."
This has shaken Dr David Samuels' cage, who says "The Bible clearly states that Hell is a place of eternal torment. People will suffer there, and their suffering will not be metaphorical. It will be real, with flames." Dr Samules, vice-president of the Anglican Fundamentalist Church Society, says the Archbishop is just telling people what they want to hear. Dr David McIlvean, of the Martyr's memorial Free Presbyterian Church says the Archbishop is playing into the hands of Satan by attacking the fundamentals of the faith. he has been deceived by the devil.
Dr Habgood didn't comment to the paper personally, but an official of his palace said that the idea of everlasting punishment,1 which no change of mind2 can ever relieve, is incompatible with belief in a loving God.3
I have three comments:
1. However everlasting punishment serves no useful purpose, However sadistic God may be, he would get bored by it in the end.
2. To get someone to agree to something, especially a religious faith, under duress is not likely to win an eternal convert or even friend.
3. The Bible says God made the universe and everything in it. Surely that includes the devil. Natural and man-made disasters, not to mention the cruel birth to death cycle opposed by immortalists, don't suggest a loving God either.
Ethicists and Implantable Contraceptives
The Daily Mail of 6 June discussed the problems surrounding the use of Norplant, an implantable contraceptive just appearing on the market.
The general tone of the article was that it was morally improper to prevent anyone having children for social reasons, such as they have convictions for child abuse or were incapable of bringing them up for economic reasons.
Social advances in America were branded "transatlantic lunacy". These included the attempt of the governor of California to require female drug abusers to have the implants, and the suggestion of Kansas politician Kerry Patrick that women on welfare should receive a lump sum of $500 to have an implant fitted, together with $50 per year they keep it in place. Also berated was California judge Howard Broadman, who offered a woman convicted of beating her children with a belt and electrical cord parole if she agreed to an implant.
The article concludes that medical treatment should only be delivered if it is intended to do the patient good.
It seems to miss the point that child batterers and poor people are usually not made happy by their children, therefore they lives are being improved by contraceptive treatment.
55,000 Women Die per Year Waiting For New Drug
A drug that has been known for 30 years, Taxol, is said to have remarkable results in breast and ovarian cancers, which kill 55,000 women per year in the US, according to The Guardian of 1 June. Unfortunately there is no source of the drug except from the bark of the rare tree the Pacific Yew.
Now thieves are roaming the forests along the U.S.'s north west coast stripping the bark from yews. (Therefore killing the trees.) The U.S. Forrest Service has placed a price of $5,000 on their heads for capture. Officials said that the stripping was carried out by amateurs, who probably had little knowledge of how to process it.
The reason why Taxol has been known for so long and yet little effort has been made to synthesise it, is that animals are not a good model for its effects on humans. Six mature yew trees are needed to treat one human, and these trees are scarce.
Dr Michael Friedman of the National Cancer Institute in Maryland said that Taxol is very important - not the single most important development, but definitely one of the most important agents. He stresses that research is ongoing, no patient has been totally cured with this drug, but it has produced positive results. people are right to be enthusiastic about it.
Attempts are being made to manufacture the drug both synthetically and semi-synthetically, both in the U.S. and France.
Dream Precognition is "Memory Adjustment"
In an article on lucid dreaming in The Evening Standard on 1 August Rita Carter mentioned the subject of premonitory dreams. She suggested that events in real life trigger modified memories of what is seen in dreams. However the concept of lucid dreaming (being aware of the dream state and "directing" the action) was suggested to be of value therapeutically. It could be of particular use in overcoming phobias.
Post Menopausal Woman to Bear Child
The Sunday Express of 4 August detailed the plans of a 51 year old woman to start a family using an egg from a much younger donor. The woman had been obsessed with the idea of getting pregnant for the previous 20 years, but had not found a surgeon willing to help her infertility.
However the decision to allow her the procedure is expected to spark off an orgy of debate and proposals for control by ethicists. Sensible issues mentioned by the paper include the welfare of the child and how well it can be brought up by someone of that age group. It was pointed out by a moral campaigner that to rear children you need to be very fit for 15 to 20 years, and although 51 may not seem old, 71 is.
But, possibly by then life extension technology too will have grown through twenty years development - unless it has been stunted by moralists and their lawyers!
Identity: Twins Shed Light
An article in an unnamed paper detailed an exhibition held by the Multiple Births Foundation (Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, Goldhawk Road, London W6 0XG). It described how a meeting was arranged 39 years after twins were separated at birth for state adoption at Lima, Ohio. The things the two men had in common was remarkable:
Both married women called Linda.
Both were divorced and remarried women called Betty.
Both had dogs as boys, and called them Toy.
Both worked part time as deputy sheriffs.
Both had worked at McDonalds
Both worked as filling station attendants.
Both had mathematics as best and favourite subject at school.
Both were bad spellers.
Both had the same sleeping problems.
They shared drinking habits.
Both smoked their lungs,
which lead to both having heart disease.
both had haemorrhoids.
Another pair of separated twins got married on the same day within half an hour of each other.
If this is not coincidence, then it does suggest a strong genetic origin of personality, which information must be of importance to cryonicists working to restore frozen patients to youthful good health in the future.
Gene Therapy Instead of Transplants
Professor Gwyn Williams, of Guy's Hospital, London, is reported in The Daily Telegraph of 21 May as suggesting that some forms of kidney disease may be treatable with gene therapy instead of transplants. In fact, a transplant could in these cases be regarded as a crude form of gene therapy, as the patients receive the missing genes with their replacement kidneys. As in the previous item, pre-birth screening would be an important element in the treatment. It would enable gene surgeons to provide the missing genes before birth.
British Cancer Treatment Goes to U.S.
Professor Stephen Brown has developed a laser treatment for cancer at London's University College Hospital using a 2W laser inserted through a needle into the tumour under a local anaesthetic. It has been tried on five women suffering from breast cancer and was apparently successful, although they were subjected to conventional surgery afterwards to see if the laser treatment had worked.
Professor Brown needs another £80,000 to continue development of the process. If it is perfected, it offers painless scar free treatment for cancer. However Britain's National Health Service wouldn't come up with the money, according to The Sunday Mirror of 12 May.
Professor Brown's dream is that a woman can attend a breast screening clinic, have the early tumour picked up and destroyed all in the space of one afternoon. This is likely to remove a lot of the anxiety that prevent many people attending screening sessions, but the UK bureaucrats saw and end to the paper pushing that would result from such a rapid turnaround.
Undaunted, Professor Brown is now looking for U.S. backers, whom he feels is likely to support him. (Because the treatment is still surgery and not drug related, there is no FDA trials etc.)
Texan Anti-Cancer Huge Onions
An article in The Standard of 28 May discussed huge onions produced by Professor Leonard Pike, using genetic manipulation, at Texas A & M University.
The onions have been designed to contain large concentrations of sulphur compounds which tests in Italy and China have shown inhibit cancers of the colon and oesophagus.
An article in The Standard of 13 June revealed that there could be as many as 1,000 fake dental surgeons in Italy. The Daily Telegraph on 23 May expanded on this detailing how Marco Aguiari, secretary of the Italian Odontiatric Association, went to have his own teeth done and had his suspicions aroused by the manner of the person treating him. It turned out that he was a lorry driver. It appears that the country suffers from an organised network of fakes. Another was "a doddery old woman who claimed to have passed her degree three years earlier in Rome."
Another Blow for Lung Smokers
The Times of 11 January reported that researchers at the University of California had announced that 53,000 Americans are killed by other people's tobacco smoke each year!
Query: if the FDA relaxed the rules concerning people obtaining drugs for life extension, how many would die in accidents?
Smoking the Lungs Wrinkles the Skin
People who smoke their lungs with half a packet per day for two years are twice as likely to develop premature wrinkles, according to an article in The Independent of 1 June.
This finding was from dermatologists at the University of Utah, who believe that the smoke may affect blood vessels near the surface of the skin. Squinting due to the eye irritation of the smoke may also cause premature wrinkling.
The study was performed in a very careful and unfaultable double blind study. Photographs of subjects were assessed by researchers who were not told which were the tobacco addicts and which were non smokers.
Of course passive smoking may well add to wrinkling, but this would tend to mask the results of such a study, not amplify them. Therefore we should conclude that the findings are sound.
Of course wrinkling in itself is unlikely to make people cease smoking their lungs, but it is one more reason to add to a growing burden.
As we all know only two well, the main reason is heart disease. Each puff on a cigarette constricts the arteries, placing a greater strain on the heart. Therefore, smokers, each puff could be your last breath! Following this is cancer of the lungs and digestive organs. Other cancers have also been linked to the addiction. And, of course, there is a long list of other respiratory diseases, and an effects of greatly amplifying the risk for other air pollutants.
An article by Dr James Lefany in The Standard of 13 June detailed problems with unnecessary surgical procedures.
The reasons given were:
In the case of children, parents' demands for the doctor to "do something".
Self delusion by the surgeon as the efficacy of an operation, often supported by a bevy of grateful patients who get better despite, not because of, the surgery.
Financial self betterment by the surgeon.
The suspicions were reinforced by a recent Consumers Association report, which queried the justification of certain operations. One in five women in the UK is subjected to a hysterectomy, and one in 10 births is a Caesarean. Also mention is the operation for "glue ear", a condition they say may often self correct. The report asks whether the decline in tonsillectomies coinciding with the rise in glue ear operations has any significance. An ENT surgeon is quoted to say "Many of the reasons for tonsillectomy in the past were plainly ridiculous and it is embarrassing to read about them now in the medical literature."
The article mentions the work of Mr Arbuthnott Lane, a surgeon of the 1930s, who believed that a lot of mankind's illnesses were caused by toxins formed by bacteria in the gut, and that removal of a large section of the bowel was an appropriate remedy. (Quite why this should cure the problem baffles me!) "By all accounts", says the paper, "Mr Lane was superbly skilled at the operation - he should have been, as he did enough of them - and his patients were surprisingly grateful."
The article regarded the views of an American cancer surgeon, Mr Halstead, as more serious. He was adept at removing breast cancers, but was baffled at the way many patients suffered metastases two or three years later. His solution, now known to be flawed, was to remove more and more material, including muscle and connective tissues. "Even though it is pretty obvious that these cancer cells must have travelled in the bloodstream, Halstead hypothesised that there must be hidden channels through which the tumour spread from the breast," wrote Dr Lefanu. Halstead's operations were horrific yet they had no effect on patient mortality. Dr Lefanu wrote "Astonishingly, Mr Halstead's reputation was so enormous that surgeons were still performing his 'radical mastectomy' until a few years ago."
The article concludes by saying the greatest motivation for surgery is financial. This is clearly seen, it affirms, when comparing the number of operations for given conditions in commercially orientated health services such as the US, to the centrally funded NHS in the UK. To a lesser extent, it is seen in the private sector in the UK, where "up and down Harley Street women are advised that they'd be better off if their wombs were in a bucket." (Fair enough, as long as they don't kick the bucket in the process of getting them there.)
All Things Bright and Beautiful: A New Job for Birds
Most people have heard of Daphne du Maurier's story The Birds, where Earth's bird population suddenly started executing a programme planted within them by God to exterminate the human race once it got too big for its boots. If you haven't read the story, then you've probably seen the Hitchcock film that was very loosely based in it.
In Take a Break of 8 June Ann Kent revealed a real life version of this plot. Scientists puzzled by an increase in vomiting disease traced it to campylobacter food poisoning. Further investigation revealed that birds were spreading the disease by pecking at milk bottle tops. Therefore people whose milk had been tampered with in this way were urged to destroy the remains - and to provide a box for the milk man in future.
Of course, the birds really learned to do it for food. Or "how many million years of memory were stored in those little brains, behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes, now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines"?
A footnote from The Financial Times of 3 August: Daphne du Maurier died in April 1989 at the age of 82. She had not published anything since 1981, when a bout of depression heralded the start of senile dementia. The paper, reviewing two biographies of the author, described these events as a sad ending to a brilliant writing career. It was most renowned for the novel Rebecca. Although famous for romantic novels, she was also known for bizarre and unsettling short stories, The Birds being the most popular.
A New York cab driver was shocked to find a cardboard box laying in the street containing six human heads, according to The Sunday Sport of 7 April. One had a moustache, and another its brain hanging out.
Police investigating the incident discovered that the heads had been stolen from a car belonging to Dr William Portney of New York's Eye and Ear Hospital. He planned to use them for surgery classes with his students.
And they say Alcor is macabre?!
Editing the Human Race
Larry Niven in World Out of Time had his key character express disgust that his genes had been edited out of the human race. But in reality, the elimination of genes designed to cause suffering is a worthy cause. Nevertheless I can understand the logic of religious fundamentalists opposing it, as such opposition does tie in with the realities of God if one exists. However this logic does not relate to creating a world devoid of suffering and death, and therefore such advances are within the immortalist ethos even if they can't help individual immortalists presently alive.
In The Independent of 1 June Tome Wilkie described the work of a team of Dutch and American scientist in identifying the gene that causes "fragile x syndrome."
This syndrome affects males only, and programs mental handicap in conjunction with the appearance at puberty of long faces, prominent jaws and large ears. The discovery of the gene may allow genetic screening of people who have the disease in their families and may be symptomless carriers.
In addition the discovery may produce means of helping people who are suffering with the defects, according to Dr Kay Davies at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford.
Pope Uses Nazi Analogy to Boost Catholic Population
A report in The Sunday Sport of 5 June quotes Pope John Paul as saying that our century is one encumbered by the death of millions of innocent people. To the Nazi annihilation of Jews and Gypsies, the nuclear bombing of Japan, and the millions of WW2 victims, he adds that vast army of the unborn. He regards abortion and contraception as a crime of genocide equivalent to those other events.
I wonder if anyone has told him that his god designed the human reproductive system so that millions of potential babies are exterminated for every one that is born, regardless of chemical or mechanical intervention? If every available ovum was fertilised, then there would still be vast numbers of unmatched sperm. What about their potential? If every available ovum was fertilised, what would feed the resulting mass of humanity?
All that birth control does is to add a little bit of reason into an otherwise random process. Which is amusing, since the outburst reported in The Sunday Sport was made at a Polish town called Radom. (Only the n is missing!)
Of course the far greater holocaust is the people who are given up as dead by the medical profession and then burned or buried to rot, instead of being cryo-preserved until science has caught up with what is needed to restore them to youth, health and life. Why, Mr Pope, must we have more people if we can't look after those we already have?
Injections May Slow Alzheimer's
An unattributed cutting detailed research done at Toronto University where sufferers from Alzheimer's disease were given two injections daily of desferrioxamine, for five days a week for two years. the idea is that the treatment inactivates metal ions in the body.
The treatment halved the decline in living skills, but the report says more work need to be done for confirmation and to check on side effects.
Elizabeth Taylor Donates The Cost of Many Suspensions to AIDS
According to an article in The Evening Standard of 4 June Elizabeth Taylor is to give part of her jewellery to a public auction in an effort to raise $3,000,000 for AIDS research. The Public Auction will be held on 24 November at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. There'll be another next year at Christies, New York.
Regular readers may remember the press furore about Ms Taylor being interested in cryonic suspension. What a pity that interest was mere press speculation, as a later article suggested. By supporting cryonics in a similar manner she would not only have helped herself, but everyone else too. It is likely the value of the property given to AIDS research would easily have funded suspension for herself and a few friends too.
The reason why AIDS research is such a well supported cause is that AIDS kills. So does ageing, and so does neglect of a deanimated person rather than preserving them until such time as science can help them.
Dying AIDS Patient Infected by Homosexual Dental Surgeon Publishes Revenge Letter
Homosexual dentist Dr David Acer was reported in The Sun of 22 June to have had anal relationships with 100 men before he tested positive in an AIDS test which he took under an assumed name to save his career.
Ex-patient Kimberley Bergalis, who perished from the disease acquired from Acer, sent a posthumous letter to the press indicting the authorities whom she claimed knew Acer was contaminated with the disease continued to allow him to practise dental surgery. Naming people in Florida's health department, she used strong language at their professional solidarity with their gay colleague.
Acer also left a posthumous letter advising his 1,700 patients to take an AIDS test. Four other people are known to have been contaminated by Acer so far, but the final death toll could be much higher.
The Brain - a Transmitter
In a rather silly article in The Independent on 29 July, William Rees-Mogg suggests that most organs of the body are transmitters. The lungs take in air and transmit oxygen to the blood, for example. He cited as another example that the stomach transmits nutrients to the rest of the body. He says that there is no organ that produces rather than transmits, and concludes the brain transmits intelligence to humans from some other place. Or to put it another way, it regulates intelligence rather than originates it.
Mr Rees-Mogg goes on to speculate this theory then provides for life after death to be possible because whatever is in another place doesn't necessarily perish when a person is buried or cremated.
My comment would be that the "transmitter" idea is correct to a point, but there is no mystery about "another place". What is transmitted is the input to the brain modified or processed by the intelligence within. Burn or rot the brain, then what goes in remains true, but the intelligence has gone for ever.
The Way the Brain Deals with Names
This item appeared in The Evening Standard of 30 September. I am surprised that its subject wasn't discussed in the Kennedy rape trial by an expert witness charging thousands of dollars for his time. This is because it discusses the way the brain deals with language, with emphasis on "proper nouns", ie names - such as "Cathy".
The article starts with detailing how a man collapsed in Rome from a stroke. A brain scan revealed a small area of dead tissue, on the left lobe, suggesting that his speech may have been affected, However when he came round he could talk normally - except for the fact that he couldn't recall names, even that of his wife. Every ordinary word, describing an object or action, ie a word that would be allowed in the board game Scrabble, was fine, but any name was gone forever.
Until recently he would have been regarded as a medical curiosity, and banished to his nameless world by an uncaring bureaucracy with little explanation or understanding. But now he is a valuable asset to growing research on how the brain understands language.
It is now being suggested that human brains are unique in having a special organ to deal with language - to process words. This idea gains credence when one notes that there are several idiot savants who can translate many languages but show no understanding of what the words actually mean. One is cited who can't even add two and two or tie his shoe laces, but can translate 16 languages, half of them fluently. He is also able to translate unknown languages from an inbuilt understanding of grammar. For example, Professor Niel Smith a linguist at University College, London introduced him to a speaker of Berber. He was still able to communicate with this speaker because somewhere along the way he had picked up Tifanagh, a medieval script used by women for writing love poetry, and there were grammatical similarities.
So far brain scans have been unable to identify single areas of cells that deal with the complexities of speech. They seem to show that language is stored in many areas of the brain. Each centre stores a different component of language. This explains how strokes can knock out a particular part of the language processing ability of the patient. Cases have been recorded how people can lose articles, such as "the" or "a". No matter how hard they try to utter the phrase "the cat sat on the mat", they say "cat sat on mat".
Nouns are stored in parts, for concepts such as "live animal", shape, texture etc. In order to construct the word "cat" for example, all these concepts must be converged and assembled.
What is known as Convergence Theory, a brainchild of an Iowa couple, neurologists Antonio and Hannah Damasio, is exciting linguists, neuroscientists and psychologists around the world.
Professor Stephen Rose, of the Brain Research group at the UK's Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, recently made what the paper described as a "startling" discovery about memory. Day old chicks instinctively peck at tiny seed-like objects, but if a particular object tastes bitter they avoid it after only one peck.
The paper speculates as to whether once the brain has been mapped, this will open the path to modify memories and change moods.
City Air Dangerous
An article in London's Evening Standard on 5 August detailed how the poor quality of London's air has caused the level of carbon monoxide in the lungs of people who don't smoke them to rise since 1975. It may not be fatal yet, but it impairs lung efficiency, and it is also an indication of the levels of other, and possibly more harmful pollutants, that are not being measured.
Symptoms produced by carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea, breathing difficulties and drowsiness. Eventually blackout followed by death results.
People living in London who also smoke their lungs face the additive effects of the two sources, and therefore are more at risk. In a traffic jam in one part of London the levels were measured at 60 ppm and said to be "well on the way to suicide levels". (Referring to the suicide method of connecting the car exhaust via a hose to the inside of the car.)
Mad Cow Disease Transferred to Humans by Hospital Operation Errors.
The 9 August issue of South London Press carried a headline story about how procedures in brain operations using bovine tissue to close skull holes was spreading this disease to humans. Patients recovered from their brain operations only to perish from BSE a year or so later. The problem has been traced to a infected batch of bovine tissue. The hospital chief said that they didn't know how many people had been treated from this batch. Worldwide it could be a few or as many as 50.
This was not really a "cutting" - it was a video cassette of a film. According to the cover, it is about people who "are immortals and must battle down the ages until only one remains. Only decapitation by sword can release them from their age-old battle for an incredible prize."
As entertainment, the film is great, a gripping couple of hours viewing with a great musical score. As a sensible plot it is indeed incredible. Incredibly stupid.
The immortals appear to be spontaneously mutated humans, who if fatally injured recover with miraculous rapidity. However they are unable to father children, and there are no female immortals. (Well, the bloke who produced the film did chose Queen as the musicians.) Possibly their blood is full of nanomachines instead of God's usual mire of viruses and bacteria - perhaps. But their God, ie writer of this story also had a strange quest for these immortals: To fight each other to the death (by decapitation) and the last one left alive gets the prize. Of course the final battle is left to a "goodie" and a "baddie".
The prize? Think of the most stupid prize you can for a life and death battle spanning centuries. An old boot? An all expenses paid holiday in a coal mine? No those are quite sensible by comparison. The prize is to be able to age, die and have children - and read people's minds!!! Well, the video jacket did say incredible, so one can't really complain I suppose. (The word "incredible" means unbelievable, not unbelievably good, exciting etc.)
But this lot are still going to get the axe-kneeler logo. This is because if they really had acquired the wisdom of the ages they might have questioned why they should go on killing each other, and instead unite against whatever bade them do this thing.
Interestingly, this is exactly what humanity as a whole appears to be doing now. The nations and peoples of the world have been fighting since the beginning of time for the prize of world domination. But just at this point in history a real chance is emerging of an end to all this. At the same time the immortalist movement is gaining strength, with increasing numbers and success at this battles with the "dark forces," ie the FDA and their legal professionals.
In the film review in a previous issue Massacre at Rome, I omitted to mention an excellent remark by Richard Burton's character. He had been told by the Roman Catholic priest that he should make some effort to avoid carrying out the massacre. He replied to the effect that "the political machinery was in operation - nothing can stop it now. That political machinery is what you call God."
It looks as though, if one takes an optimistic view of history, that we may be entering a phase where humanity will unite to take on the universe as a whole, rather than go on bickering together as the immortals of the film Highlander or the nations of days of yore.
Although perhaps the majority of people will go on believing in a benevolent God and not seeing the contradiction with reality, by their actions they will be fighting at their boundaries of time and space, fighting the fate that nature has intended for them. They will in reality be fighting God. Not to fight God is to lay down, "think of England" (or the Pope or whatever takes your fancy), and wait for the axeman.
Copyright, or intellectual property rights, have lined the pockets of many a legal specialist. A couple of items in recent press cuttings are amusing in this respect:
A letter to The Times of 12 November noted that the governor of the Bank of England had included a copyright notice at the foot of the recently issued £5 and £20 bank notes. The writer, Mr Stuart R. King felt that the move would give the most zealous of counterfeiters second thought.
Early BBC tape recordings of classical music broadcasts lay unplayed in an archive because the Musicians' Union insisted on evoking an old copyright law that would have made £50,000 payable to the descendants of the musicians had the recordings been made available to the public. However an entrepreneur has now negotiated more realistic royalties, and these 70 year old performances will gain be heard. [Daily Mail 23 October]
According to the Baltimore Sun and repeated in The Pink Paper of 21 December, the world's oldest gay couple are aged 138 and 130 years and have shared the same bed for 110 years. At a press conference in Groznyy in the old USSR the couple, encouraged to "come out" by human rights activists, said they had been lovers since 1881.
Bogarde to Burn
Actor Dirk Bogarde is reported in The Mail on 23 October to have stated that he wants his doctors to terminate his life and burn his remains if he becomes mentally incompetent or terminally ill. He is aged 70 years, and watched his close friend Tony Forward suffer a slow and painful death in 1989. He is vice president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
As a riposte to what he terms the "prurience and petty mindedness" of his own country, Mr Bogarde has requested that his ashes be scattered anywhere but England.
Bone Marrow Transplant Transformation
The People of 6 January 1991 carried details of an interesting case of bone marrow transplant. Leukaemia victims Margaret Moss received a bone marrow transplant from Glynis Lacey. She suffered crippling cramps in feet and legs, and then developed arthritis.
But previously she could not get a sun tan. Now she was able to get the golden brown suntan of Ms Lacey. It was also discovered that Ms Lacey suffered from arthritis.
There were already some similarities between the two women. They are the same age and height, their husbands have similar occupations, and they both have a son and a daughter.
But after the operation, the recipient began to take one more of the physical appearance of the donor.
This obviously raises some interesting questions on the nature of physical identity, and also possibly some clues to the origins of arthritis.
UK Position on Post Mortems
An enquirer to the letters page of Take a Break 28 September asked whether a post mortem examination could be prohibited in a will. The reply was no, but if you tell your relatives that you oppose the idea "the doctor in charge probably won't press it - unless there is anything suspicious in the circumstances of death."
Dysentery Sweeps Schools
Today of 16 December reports that an epidemic of dysentery is sweeping Britain's schools. A Dr Martin Reynolds is quoted as saying that increased hygiene has reduced resistance to the disease.
I can't work that out myself! Eradicate the disease or cease concentrating people, and then surely it would become like smallpox - extinct.
Lawyers Cash in on Sperm Donors
German lawyers have found themselves a gold mine by finding a law loophole which makes sperm donors liable to pay maintenance for the children. Unscrupulous members of the public are now using this law to get other people to fund their AID children. [Mirror, Dec20].
Fag Ad Girl Ravaged by Cancer
Today of 18 December details how cigarette advertising girl Janet Sackman, famous for her Lucky Strike posters, is now fighting for her life against cancer. She is now campaigning against lung smoking. "Tobacco companies don't care about lives. All they care about is making the almighty dollar" she is quoted as saying. "I have cut my life short by smoking. I would like to blow up all those tobacco fields, but I know it will never happen."
Man Left in Waking Coma After Piles Operation
Merton and Sutton Health Authority were ordered to pay Alan Tombs nearly three million dollars after Mr Tombs was left in a vegetative state following a haemorrhoids operation.
He suffered a 15 minute cardiac arrest as a result of carbon dioxide being administered in error by the anaesthetist.
His wife has vowed to stand by him, and claims to be helped by her Roman Catholic faith. She says she goes to the church every day and the priests help her.
She will use the money to buy a special home and to employ full time carers for her husband.
Lung Smokers Face All Out Ban
According to The Daily Star of 12 December, Environment Minister Mr David Tripper has warned that a general ban on people smoking their lungs in public places could be in force with two years. A recent report to the government has shown that passive smoking causes lung cancer, respiratory and other diseases. More than 300 non-smokers die each year as a result of other people smoking.
Many people seem unaware that smokers themselves face a higher chance circulatory disease than cancer. Some smokers have had to have their legs off as a result of gangrene due to poor circulation. But such is the addictive power to tobacco that weak willed people deprived of their fag would take one from the devil himself even if the price was immediate amputation of both legs.
Personally I think that outright prohibition would lead to as much harm as the prohibition of hallucinogenic drugs is already doing. However prohibition of smoking in public is a welcome step. After all, people are prohibited from defecating in public, but this doesn't stop people doing it in the privacy of their own lavatories!
The Sun of 10 December carried a story detailing how John Danylchuck, 73, shot dead his bridge partner, Gaston Giguere, 60, and injuring another player, for failing to extinguish his cigarette. Mr Danylchuck was known to have hated lung smoking, as it has killed one of his family. He is now serving a term of imprisonment at Winnipeg, Canada.
Dutch Secret of Longevity
A short piece in Now 17 November said that Dutch scientists have claimed that regular sex will put up to 10 years on your life. Orgasms strengthen the heart, stimulate the brain, and produce painkilling substances within the body.
The same magazine carries an interesting question for all those dental surgeons who persuade their patients to have painful gum surgery to "prevent" gum disease: If your teeth are supposed to fall out when your gums rot, why do skeletons have teeth? Why indeed. [Note - some dental surgeons say that gum surgery is worthless.]
Letter to God
The Sun of 14 August reviewed a book Letters to God: A New Collection by Stuart Hemple and Eric Marshall. Although the article didn't make it clear, it seems that a group of children were invited to write letters to God about anything they chose, and the best were complied into the book. One letter, from a girl called Jane, ran as follows:
Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't you just keep the ones you have got now?
Why not indeed?
Brain Scanner Images Slices of Living Brains
An article in The Observer of 2 December described work being done using a SPET scanner.
A SPET (single photon emission tomography) scanner works if the patient's blood is first made radio-active by an injection of radio-active iodine. They are then placed in a ring of geiger counters which are able to measure the amount and precise location of blood flowing in their brain. The output from the geiger counters is fed to an Apple Macintosh computer which produces an image.
The machine is routinely used to evaluate neurological damage, but the team at the University of Edinburgh have tried it on people with psychiatric disorders. They have discovered that such patients have a lack of blood flow to some areas of their brains. Normal brains increase the flow of blood to specific areas depending on the task being processed by the brain.
They believe that the process will be useful in evaluating drug treatments for these disorders.
Myself I wonder at these investigations involving radio-activity. Has anyone done a follow up study on patients as to whether they develop leukaemia or other cancers as a result?
Leukaemia Drug 75% Success Rate
An article in The Daily Telegraph of 12 April 1991 reports on trials at Columbia University by Professor Ronald Breslow of a drug known as HMBA for leukaemia. At a preliminary trial at the Memorial Hospital, New York, on 25 patients a 75% success rate was achieved. The patients would have died had they not gone on the trial.
After treatment, 25% had no trace of disease, previously believed to be incurable.
Tremor is the only side effect, and this can be moderated by reducing the dose. Professor Breslow plans a further trial of an improved version of the compound.
The chemical binds to a cancer cell and transforms it to a cell that divides normally. The molecules bind at two points, rather like a claw. Professor Breslow believes that the principle could be used to treat other forms of cancer instead of surgery.
The new compounds are based on the discovery that the two binding sites are not equivalent. By choosing different sticky sites, better products can sometimes be obtained.
Some patients had been taking HMBA for seven years with no ill effects. The authorities would like to take patients who are apparently cured off the drug to see if they revert, but obviously these patients are reluctant to participate in an experiment which could have fatal consequences to them.
Elizabeth Taylor's NDE
Elizabeth Taylor, the actress at one time linked with Alcor by press speculation, revealed in The Sun of 11 January that 30 years ago she had a near death experience in which she travelled down the ubiquitous tunnel and met Mike Todd, her third husband who was annihilated in a plane crash. "Todd" told her that she "can't come over yet", and she regretfully returned to life. The article also refers to a longer piece on the subject in Life magazine.
Diabetes Due to Foetal Mal Nutrition
Researchers from Cambridge and Southampton, according to The Guardian of 25 October, have discovered a link between middle age diabetes with under nutrition in the womb. At a press conference organised by the Medical research Council, Professor Nick Barker of Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, and Professor David Hales of the Medical Research Council's epidemiology unit at Southampton, examined 469 men whose birth weight and weight aged one year were on record.
They said that the risk factor was not due to genetic factors, but to the condition, height and weight of the mothers. These factors could persist through generations.
Improved modern living conditions has lead to a drop in the number of diabetics, and as this is a risk factor for heart disease this could explain why heart disease rates in some countries are in decline.
Funeral directors have payment worries, even when the client appears to be very rich. Failed newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell left instructions for his remains to be buried to rot in Jerusalem. He needed a larger than usual grave because of his obesity, and an expensive headstone. In fact it cost him as much as a permafrost burial.
According to The Sun of 6 January, the gravedigger's fee of about $100 still hasn't been paid, two months later. His fee is two thirds of his weekly wage, but Mr Maxwell's solicitors won't pay him.
The undertakers refused to erect the tombstone until they were remunerated, and it has only just gone up after the $3,600 bill had been paid.
Professional Abuses Bereaved Person in Public
In the UK it is common for pharmacies to offer photographic developing services. A couple whose baby died in a "cot death" decided to take pictures of their dead baby as an act of remembrance. When the baby's uncle attended at his local pharmacy to collect the developed prints, he was given a public dressing down in the shop by the pharmacist for taking "morbid" photographs.
In fact, when the baby died hospital staff actually advised the taking of photographs to assist in the recovery from the bereavement.
A spokeswoman for the pharmacy later told The Daily Star that they were sorry if "what was said" was misinterpreted. They suggested that it would be helpful if people presenting such material to advise them in advance so as to prevent distress to their staff.
How to Use the Law to Have your Cake and Eat It
The Standard of 14 January, in its editorial, described how a woman had conceived and given birth to a daughter whom she loved and who was in perfect health. However, because she had been given a sterilisation operation, she was able to use the law to get $180,000 damages from the hospital for loss of earnings, house alterations, costs of child-rearing and the pain of childbirth.
The paper deprecated the law that made this case possible, pointing out that some people would pay that sum just to get a healthy child, let alone go to the courts for financial support.
Insurance Bungle Bankrupts Dentist
There used to be an advertisement on British Television with a picture of a castle with a voice over "Get the strength of the Insurance Companies around you". Dentist Nikki Harman, 25, took out loans to buy the materials of her trade. The bank, correctly, insisted that she take out permanent health insurance, so that if she was ill her loan repayments would be met.
When she was taken ill she did not notice her plummeting bank balance. When she recovered she was hopelessly in debt, and discovered that a clerical error in the bank had meant that her insurance forms hadn't been sent to the right department.
The bank refused to correct the error, and instead pressed for repayment. She has referred her case to the bank ombudsman, but they say it could take ages to sort it out. The Bank, Lloyds, said to The Sun, who reported the incident on 13 December, that they regretted the mistake and were dealing with the claim for compensation as quickly as possible.
Now suppose that this had been life insurance for a cryonics patient!
The Independent on Sunday of 22 December published an article about salaries received by members of a leading UK law firm, with a turnover of nearly $170 million. The highest salary earned was $810,000 per year. The British public are notorious for complaining about the salaries of the heads of public utilities, such as the water companies, recently sold to the public. A salary of $270,000 per year had been the subject of complaints.
The paper pointed out that lawyers' salaries far exceed these in magnitude, and other firms have even been known to pay gross revenues of over $1,800,000 per year to senior partners. (Salaries plus share of profits.)
As I have said before, these conditions exist because the public, through the ballot box, allow it. Individuals who have got themselves into the position where they can earn these salaries for very civilised working hours cannot be blamed for taking the opportunities society offers them.
Society as a whole is, however, losing out as this talent is diverted from providing permanent solutions to real problems.
Is Moderate Alcohol Intake Good for You?
The Guardian of 12 January carried a story to the effect that moderate alcohol consumption in both men and women can lead to lower levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin, which are believed to play a role in promoting heart disease. By moderate consumption, they mean one unit, ie half a pint of beer or a glass of wine containing about nine grams of alcohol, per day.
However the paper warns that the studies were taken statistically from a broad spectrum of people, and often sick people don't drink alcohol through health worries or because of drug interaction. Therefore non-drinkers appear to be at high risk frcm certain diseases.
The Guardian of 8 January published an article detailing the start of what looks set to be a long scandal.
The United Kingdom has been known to be beset by a "class struggle" between the "working" classes who want state control of everything in the mistaken belief that the state will look after them, and the middle and upper classes want the freedom to work for pay and to keep that pay. Similarly there seems to be emerging an upper class in the United States, of Doctors and Lawyers. Other citizens seem to be in awe of these people and allow their lives to be ruled by them.
From the point of view of the doctors, they system has hit a problem. A psychiatrist was dismissed at the Psychiatric Institute of Fort Worth, and, according to The Guardian, replied with a law suit backed up with serious allegations against his employers, National Medical Enterprises, Inc. He claimed that he had been pressurised to prolong patients' stays, in order to increase the hospital's fee income.
Since this can of worms has been opened, allegations are flying about of all sorts of malpractices for financial gain amongst the medical profession. Some of these verge on the fantastic, such as one complaint that school children were shanghaied into hospitals via paid tip-offs from teachers.
The Guardian says that National Medical Enterprises is now under investigation in six states, mainly in the south, and similar enquiries have hit other hospital chains. The company's share price has plummeted, although it has been making reforms and has changed the names of many of its hospitals.
The ashes of dozens of bodies are dumped into the same bucket at a local authority run crematorium, it was claimed on 10 November according to The Sun. A labourer said that staff were laughing and joking. One held up the bucket and quipped "Bet you've never seen anyone carrying five people in one hand before!" An enquiry has been launched.
The Million Pound Operation
The Evening Standard of 12 February detailed the National Health Service's spectacular repair of Mr Kit Cook, a 25 year old pub chef who was crushed beneath a 16 ton articulated lorry. Most of his vital organs were crushed, as was his pelvis.
The first two operations were exploratory. The next one was to ease pressure on his windpipe, caused by swelling. The fourth operation was again exploratory. No. five was to insert a urinary catheter, as his bladder was flattened and "perforated like a tea bag". The sixth operation inserted a colostomy bag. Seven and eight concerned examining the kidneys and connecting a dialysis machine. No nine, performed some 13 months after the accident was to remove the catheter and repair the colostomy. And more surgery is proposed to repair the pelvis.
If the state can spend this sort of money to save a life, then cryonic suspension is cheap indeed!
Row Over Treatment Veto
Mr Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party, has Parkinson's disease. He applied for a foetal cell transplant costing about £2,800 under the National Health, but was turned down according to The Independent of 25 January. His doctor had tried to arrange it for him, but the Devon area health authority had rejected the application.
He finally had the operation following the intervention of his local MP.
Dr Peter Simms is quoted as saying, for the Authority, that Mr Thorpe was turned down because the success rate for the operation is no more than 30%, and those under 50 are more likely to benefit than older people. Dr Simms felt that anything with less than 50% chance of working should not be available under the National Health. "No one would expect us to fund a journey to Lourdes" he said.
Mr Thorpe says that treatment should be available for everyone who needs it. I wonder whether he would include cryonic suspension?
According to The Daily Telegraph of 15 February, a 25 year old woman paralysed for 2½ years was granted the right to die by a Quebec court on 6 January. She asked for her respirator to be turned off after she had been tranquillised into unconsciousness.
"I am fed up with the respirator; it's no longer a life." she whispered to the Judge.
What a pity Dr Donaldson didn't get so sympathetic a judge. No doubt "Nancy B."'s judge was more concerned for her welfare than that of his fellow professionals in trying criminal cases. It will be interesting to see if the murder rate goes up in Canada after this case, as Dr Donaldson's judges would no doubt predict.
Legal Fees Cause Car Rental Surcharge
According to The Daily Mail of 29 January Hertz Corporation have imposed at $56/day surcharge on rented automobiles because of the money the company has to pay out in legal fees and damages.
Apparently if a customer of theirs with no money has an accident, the company is half responsible even though the car is in perfect condition. The "deep pocket" extortion racket run by American lawyers is used to extract farcical damages from them.
The paper goes on to say, and I quote: "in American Law culpability is determined solely by wealth, by which I mean that if you have deep pockets you must be guilty of something or other."
I seem to recall that the USSR was founded on similar principles. And look where that got them!
The paper goes on to say that so rich are the pickings for American lawyers that the country has 730,000 of them, whereas by comparison Britain has 45,000 with a quarter of the population. (Therefore if it was the same size as the USA, it would have 180,000, or about a quarter of those there.)
Some amusing cases were mentioned: a woman who lost her psychic powers during a brain scan received $1,500,000, a burglar who fell though a skylight whilst robbing a house sued the home owner and won damages.
In a hotel fire, the manufacturers of every non-flammable article in the hotel were sued because the presence of the articles impeded the escape of the occupants. The lawyers knew the companies were innocent, the paper says, but that they would settle out of court rather than face the years of litigation that could result.
It does indeed seem that what we are seeing is a bizarre new form of communism - punish the rich because they are rich. But the strange twist is that this time those who are doing it are quite blatant that they are only doing it to grab wealth themselves, unlike the Soviets who kept their luxurious lifestyles secret in their high walled dachas.
Not that enough Americans read The Immortalist, to have political effect, but nevertheless I would urge you all to spread the word that the practise or should I say abuse of law is becoming as distinctly un-American as the practise of Communism. And I am sure that there will be more than a few right thinking patriotic American lawyers who will join in too. (And perhaps a Vice-President or two!)
Private Eye of 14 February detailed how Ian Alcock was disenchanted with what he termed the "expensive nonsense" of the funeral directors' profession.
His local hospital has little interest in using his remains for dissection, so he decided to get permission to have his remains buried on his own land. He was charged £77 by his local council for lodging planning permission for the grave, and they made him pay £60 to advertise in the local paper to see if the neighbours would object. (There's nothing like spending other people's money!) The local environmental health office came and inspected the grave site.
Finally the local authority admitted that unless the grave was within 90 metres of another property and there are no drainage implications, then there is little they can do to oppose the application.
Lung Smoke Ash Threatens Road Safety
Auto Express carried a report to the effect that smoking the lungs whilst driving can be a dangerous habit. Smokers have a 50% greater chance of an accident than non-smokers. They are also 3½ times more likely to be arrested for drunken driving. Studying 4,000 lung smokers Dr Joseph di Franza of the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre found that 80% are likely to perform the act whilst driving. Some admitted that the distraction of searching for cigarettes had lead to accidents.
Dr di Franza said that nicotine, like alcohol, reduced alertness and reaction times.
The Evening Standard of 5 February asks whether Hormone Replacement Therapy, the treatment given to menopausal women, is addictive. They suggest it could be addictive as heroin, whilst admitting that there are few risks and many advantages.
At one time doctors would refuse to prescribe it for "a natural phenomenum" but now it is given almost as a matter of course.
Personally, I think that one needs to define what is meant by "addictive." Heroin or tobacco are addictive in that the person craves more even though they are life threatening.
Many things are "addictive" but life sustaining, such as air, food and drink. Should we all stop breathing in case air is addictive? No doubt there may be some bureaucrat who might see some money in this!!!
Of course if you feel better when you eat drink and breathe you want to continue eating, drinking and breathing. Of course one could argue that as we have all died eventually (up to now) maybe the cause is eating, drinking and breathing. Perhaps the FDA should run some LD50s on food drink and air, and everyone should starve and suffocate under duress of law whilst they take their time.
Of course people will want more HRT if it makes them feel well and healthy.
AIDS Treatment Goes Underground
An unspecified paper dated 22 October 1991 detailed the sophisticated nature of the underground AIDS treatment industry in the USA.
Patients unable to wait for FDA approval of effective modern drugs available in Europe are bought by stores reminiscent of the "speakeasies" of the prohibition era. Professional Doctors are joining in the activity, unwilling to see patients die when perfectly good treatment is available elsewhere on the planet.
Although on one had been cured of AIDS, these treatments have substantially extended the life expectancy of many people.
One AIDS patient is quoted: "It does trouble me that I am breaking the law. But my whole experience with this disease is that the government is just sitting back and letting us die."
The reports ends with the statement that there are two drugs that treat CMV retinitis, a blinding disease that affect 20% of AIDS patients. Those treated with Foscarnet lived longer than those treated with Glanciclovir.
Lawyers Called in to Sue BBC on Behalf of Dr Who
British law is not without its moments, as The Independent revealed on 14 September 1991. One such moment is when lawyers acting on behalf of someone who is neither real or of this planet take on a Government corporation, in this case the BBC.
They will claim that the cult Sci-Fi series Dr Who, which has been dropped by the BBC, could earn the ailing corporation millions of pounds in overseas broadcasting rights. The series concerns the time travelling adventures of an eccentric and very long lived PhD from the planet Gallifrey. The indictment claims that the Corporation is failing in its duty to its licence holders if it fails to use its rights in the "property". The case is to seek a re-instatement of the series and possibly a negligence claim on behalf of all license holders.
Fans of the series have been told that they need to raise £30,000 to start the action. (The average price of a house in the UK is presently £55,000, although houses in the north of England have been known to sell for £30,000 or less.)
A spokesman for the BBC told the paper that contrary to fans' belief, the last showing of Dr Who had an audience of "only" four million viewers out of a population of 56 million people. The show would need to have a chance of doing better if it were to be revived.
At present (March 1992) the BBC are showing repeats of very early shows in the series. Unfortunately the show is frequently anti-immortalist, and illogical about time travel.
One in Three Dentists Pose AIDS Danger
Dr Andrew McLaren, a homosexual dental surgeon who specialises in treating AIDS patients, estimates a third of Britain's 22,000 dental practices fail to sterilise instruments properly. He claims to have seen a surgery in a famous London street where he wouldn't even have a boil lanced it was so sloppy, The News of the World says on 24 November 1991. Some surgeries still buy re-useable needles. They should be banned by law, says Dr McLaren.
Other dentists canvassed by The News of the World endorsed Dr McLaren's fears.
If a dentist gives a local anaesthetic, it reduces his profits out of doing a filling. Many are reluctant to give anaesthetics for this reason, and others share an ampoule between two patients. This practise could also spread AIDS, as the second patient could receive the first patients "sucked back" blood. Any infection could be passed on.
Dr McLaren says that special ovens called autoclaves should be used for sterilisation, but they cost £2,000 each. But many dentists use a cold chemical; solution, and one was even found to wash out cotton wool swabs and re-use them!
Safety guidelines laid down by the British Dental Association are NOT mandatory. For example, some dentists use the same gloves with different patients, which is against the guidelines.
Also, the dentist himself could have AIDS. Dr McLaren, who is openly homosexual is tested regularly and proves to be negative so far.
Research published by the British Medical Journal reports that at least six British dental surgeons are thought to be HIV positive. But this could be the tip of the iceberg, the newspaper says.
A British Dental Association spokesman said that there is no obligation for dentists to declare that they are HIV positive.
The more times I hear stories about people who have had say infected impacted wisdom teeth or abscesses, and treated them themselves, for example with DMSO, I wonder whether this idea of preventative dental surgery is just one big fashion that has swept across the developed world. Maybe dental surgery need be no more common than other forms of surgery. After all, many people go through life without ever seeing a surgeon apart from a dentist.
Someone with an abscess is told that they have to have the tooth out. But then the abscess has to be treated with antibiotics first. That clears it up so that the patient is "well enough" to face an extraction. But the question I ask is, that if the abscess has cleared up, why the extraction? Obviously if the abscess re-appears with monotonous regularity then surgery is indicated, but maybe many of them will heal up and give no more trouble.
Dental decay is a very slow process. If as soon as a tiny speck is found the tooth is drilled and filled, a much bigger hole has to be made. In time, decay can form around the edge of the filling, giving the dentist a chance to earn some more fees by taking it out and making a bigger hole for a new filling.
Gum surgery is also controversial. Some dentists have questioned whether there is any point in the pain and cost when the condition re-occurs unless the patient is persuaded to improve oral hygiene. It has also been shown that if the patient improves oral hygiene then the gums sometimes heal up without surgery. [Money by the Mouthful, by Dr R.O. Nara. £4.50 incl post. Also How to Become Dentally Self Sufficient £7.00 post included.]
Professionals' Widow's Racket
A letter in The Mirror of 19 February complained that doctors are charging widows and widowers £56 for a second signature on a death certificate, required if they are to have the remains of their spouse burned to ashes.
And some people say that cryonics is a rip-off!
European Cancer Experiment on Reformed Lung Smokers
The Standard of 28 February detailed how the Cancer Research Campaign has started a European study into the effects of preventative treatments against cancer.
2,000 high risk reformed lung smokers who have already had a lung, head or neck tumour removed by surgery have been selected for the study. This class of person is at an unusually high risk of developing a new cancerous tumour.
They will be divided into four sub-groups, and will receive either
1 vitamin A,
2 N-Acetyl-Cysteine, a constituent of some cough medicines thought to be inhibitory of early cancer growth,
3 a mixture of the two, or
4 a placebo.
Dr Brian Cotter, of Liverpool's Clutterbridge Hospital, is coordinating the British input to the trial. He considers the present evidence for the benefits of vitamin A to be insufficient although some work suggests that it may help in preventing cancer. This study may serve to make the position clearer.
Turkestan Centenarian Sues for Divorce Over 76 Year old Husband's Inadequacy
An unspecified clipping details how a 100 year old Turkestan woman is suing her 76 year old husband for divorce because he is unable to meet her physical needs.
British Laser Ophthalmoscope Used Low Power IR light - First in the World
The Independent on Sunday of 2 June 1991 described how the Institute of Ophthalmology in London have developed a new ophthalmoscope that used scanned low power infra red beams to get a detailed picture of the retina. The machine enables structures to be seen that aren't easily observed in ordinary light, and the visible beam doesn't dazzle the patient. The article didn't say whether the ophthalmoscope worked without giving eye drops to poison the iris muscles to prevent the patient closing his pupil to the light. As the system is a scanning one, theoretically I should have thought the drops unnecessary as the energy in the beam would be very small to the light required for a photographic image from the conventional system.
In addition, the result from the scanning can be manipulated by a computer to give a three dimensional image. It is hoped that the new process will enable earlier diagnosis of glaucoma to be performed. This would result in better preventative treatments being developed.
Anonymous Life Insurance
It is now apparently possible to insure someone else's life without them knowing it. A widespread practise in the USA has now spread to the United Kingdom, through broker C E Heath of London. (071 287 0891)
Possible clients are managers and lawyers in the entertainment industry who want to protect their interest in their clients and whose clients refuse to submit to a medical examination, according to the unspecified paper containing the story. It goes on to suggest that divorcees who have used their "rights" to an ex-spouse's income may also wish to buy such insurance to protect their income.
Would be murderers might also find it interesting, I should have thought!
Tsongas Spotlights Cancer Rehabilitation
Presidential candidate Paul Tsongas has brought into the public arena the problems facing people who have been cured of cancer, says Time of 9 March.
Mr Tsongas had survived a bone marrow transplant, and when it looked as though he was a serious contender, many commentators, including the editorial of The New York Times, started questioning his fitness for the post of President of the United States.
The article described a number of case histories of people who had cancer as much as a quarter of a century ago but were still refused employment and life insurance. Also, some of the treatments used to cure the disease had left the patients with mental and physical disorders, and ironically therapies that cure one form of cancer can give rise to others decades later.
He Had the Gall to Avoid Stone Surgery
The Star of 9 March described how a patient who was put on a long waiting list at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for a gall stone operation tried a herbal remedy that worked. He drank a pint of olive oil and the juice of ten lemons, in doses.
Doctors at the hospital confirmed the 48 year old man was free of the stones and believe that the cure could save hundreds of others from having surgery.
Perpetual Grave Scam in Spain
Take a Break of 4 March detailed how a British holidaymaker whose husband was buried following his death on a holiday in Spain paid over $13,500 for a "perpetual" grave. A few years later when she visited it, she found a skyscraper block in its place. Enquiries with the authorities revealed that her husband's remains had been removed and interred behind a concrete wall - instead of the sunken garden she had paid so much money for.
And people think cryonics is a scam!
Mirror Castigates Legal profession
The Daily Mirror of 26 February started its editorial with a quote from Shakespeare, The first thing we'll do, let's kill all the lawyers. (Henry VI, Part 2)
Referring to a number of recent cases where convictions of many years standing were overturned, the paper said that the profession was sort of justice and their fees were "obscene". It complained that the profession was slow, inefficient and steeped in self-interest. It claimed that the public's regard for the law is virtually non-existent and called for a "root and branch reformation."
The profession was totally to blame for its poor public image, concluded the editorial.
Air Pollution Blamed for Accelerated Aging
The Daily Express of 15 February details the top ten of aging factors today:
3 Jogging in Towns
4 Not using moisturizer
5 Commuting in smog
6 Living near factories
7 Air travel
8 Sunbathing regularly
9 Not taking vitamins
10 Drinking tap water.
It detailed the problems of air travel. Stale air in the cabin and phosphates given off by the furniture do invisible long term damage, and in the short term dehydration produces obvious problems.
The article advises vitamins C and E in skin creams.
Mensa on Ice?
One of the topics to be discussed at a MENSA conference at Magdalene College, Cambridge from August 2 to 7, 1992 is entitled Is Life Extension on Ice. MENSA is the world wide society for people who can pass an IQ test. The conference fee is about $800.
Pharaoh's Curse Explained
An article in The Independent on Sunday on 19 January explained the alleged curse, whereby grave robbers of Egyptian mummies died within a few years of entering new graves.
After the mummy had been laid to rest the tomb was sealed. Organic processes caused most of the oxygen to be converted to carbon dioxide by the action of microbes and bacteria present. When people entered this cavity after two or three thousand years, they breathed in a nitrogen rich atmosphere full of microbial dust. A lot of people usually entered the small space at once, and were all breathing heavily as they were excited. The explorers soon perished from diseases from which humanity had long lost immunity. Many died from allergic alveolitis, a severe inflammation of the tiny chambers of the lungs, resulting in pulmonary collapse. One man died from lung cancer six years later. He had only occasionally smoked his lungs in his youth.
Soy Sauce Reduces Cancer Risk
Chinese takeaways laced with soy sauce may be the key to reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases, suggests an article in The Evening Standard of 23 January. Studies in Japan and Singapore have found a female sex hormone-like compound in soya beans that cut the risk of breast cancer by 60% Also, a high intake of the substance known as phyto-oestrogen can reverse the effects of the menopause.
Professor Philip James of the Rowett Research Institute hopes to set up a study to investigate this effect further. He cites the variation in disease patterns with location as indicative that local diets set the pattern.
Animal Fat and Arthritis
An unspecified cutting discusses a major(?) study in Norway on 27(!) severe arthritis patients who were put on a vegetarian diet for a year. It lead to significant improvement in stiffness, pain, grip strength and white blood cell count.
It is suggested that this is the first time that conventional doctors have taken the age old vegetarian cure for arthritis seriously.
Alcoholic beverage Additives
An undated article in You reviewed a book about additives in recreational drinks. Name Your Poison by Ted Parratt is published by Robert Neale at £6.95 and describes how beers and wines have to have no labelling as to the ingredients as do other food and drink.
Manufacturers claim that if ingredients were listed many drinks would lose their appeal. Much of the content was water anyway, and the fact that the largest constituent has to be listed first rubs this in, especially for expensive drinks. Some drinks have as much as 60 additives, and this could make labelling very expensive.
However there are definite grounds for concern, such as the fact that many -modern sophisticated wines use sulphur dioxide or benzoic acid as preservatives. Sulphites can precipitate asthma attacks, and no one knows how the mass of ingredients in a modern drink interact when inside the human body.
It is suggested that Aspartame, a very safe and common sweetener, can however react badly with isobutanol, a type of alcohol which remains in beer after the others have been removed.
Drinks such as cherry brandy may contain colourings obtained from coal tar, which has been known since 1954 to be carcinogenic.
Grandpa Dumping - a New Alzheimer's Phenomena
Time of 6 April described a new problem for America's authorities - the dumping of demented elderly people with all identification removed at hospitals or in public places. The caring of an Alzheimer's patient is a terrible burden, and it is often carried out by relatives of the patient. These people have no training and experience, and yet are expected to care for the patient 24 hours a day. Finally, when the burden gets too much, they sometimes dump their charge as described.
There are very limited options open to families in this situation. Medical insurance doesn't cover long term care - indeed the costs of such care on a professional basis would make the premiums so high that if you could afford them you could probably also afford the care out of your own resources, ie you don't need insurance.
Oregon's Medicaid-Fraud unit and the Washington County Sheriff's department have launched legal studies that may lead to criminal charges, but at present the legal position of people "grandpa dumping" is uncertain. In some cases financial fraud can be uncovered, eg misappropriation of pension checks, and appropriate action taken.
Also, the article highlighted the fact that many professionals and nursing homes didn't have the skills that humane treatment of Alzheimer's patients require. Today four million Americans have the disease. It is expected that by 2050 there will be 14 million cases - unless a cure is found.
Lack of Sleep Kills Seven
Seven members of the same family have perished through lack of sleep. The Italian family had been plagued by a brain disorder for six generations, according to a report in The Daily Express of 14 February, echoing a report in The New England Journal of Medicine. A rogue protein gene causes the condition to strike when the victim is in their 40s or 50s. The symptoms begin with sleepless nights and end with the mind and body totally exhausted, and a fatal coma.
It is suggested that the mechanism of the condition is related to mad cow disease, but personally I find the link hard, as the latter is a virion condition, not a genetic disorder. But of course the virions could be passed from generation to generation I suppose. It is suggested that the condition may be more widespread and now it has been defined more cases may come to light.
Entertainer Gets Cancer From Passive Lung Smoking
Cigarette sales fell 8% in Britain in 1990 according to The Mirror of 30 March. The figure comes days after entertainer Roy Castle told newsmen how he got cancer from passive smoking after playing in clubs.
However despite 20% drop since 1986, Brits still smoke more than Americans and other Europeans. In Italy, sales are ten times lower than Britain.
When They Die Alone
When people in the UK die and no relatives can be found, they have a welfare funeral, with their possessions being sold to meet the cost. Westminster City Council, one of 33 councils in london, organises more than 120 welfare funerals per year, according to an article in The Independent of 22 January.
Sometimes only a part of a body is found. A woman's leg found in a London canal was buried in a coffin - in case it needed to be exhumed later for police enquiries. Cremation is usually used for disposal in most cases, although in areas where it is disliked, such as the East of London, burial is still provided. Usually a search is made for relatives by the coroner's office.
New Alternative to Bone Marrow Transplants
The accepted treatment for leukaemia is for doctors to persuade relatives of the patient to undergo a painful and to a certain extent risky process of bone marrow extraction. It can be transplanted into the sufferer after severe irradiation to kill off all the original (and cancerous) bone marrow.
A method of extracting cells from used umbilical cords, collected at births, has now been developed. These cells can be used to grow bone marrow. The UK's Leukaemia Research Fund has now grant aided a new umbilical bank at Bristol, said in an article in The Sunday Times of 26 January to be the first in the world. More than 1,000 women at Bristol's South Mead Hospital have been asked to donate their baby's umbilical cord (instead of letting it be thrown away). The cells will be labelled by high speed genetic fingerprinting and frozen until required. The first of the banks's bone marrow transplants is expected by the end of the year.
In the USA, the procedure is the subject of legal patent, and Biocyte Corporation of New York plans to offer parents the chance to give their child a new kind of cancer insurance policy: they will freeze umbilical cords in case the cells are needed for an auto-transplant. The cost for the freezing and storage is about $850 per ten years.
Considering the volume of the object and the time scale involved, this makes Cryonics Institute suspension look very good value in comparison.
Once Valued item now Worthless Gift
When people question who is going to pay the cost of cryonics revivals, equating them with the labour and professional intensive processes of modern surgery, the answer is often given of the falling costs of high technology devices. It is suggested that revivals will be performed by nano machines, which once designed can actually reproduce themselves. Therefore they have a manufacturing cost that is very near zero.
I can recall in the early 1970s paying two or three hundred pounds, the equivalent in inflationary terms of about £3,000 today, for a four function calculator, with memory. Coincidentally, £3,000 is roughly the price of a modern 486 50MHz PC in this country. A week or so back Mike Zehse found amongst the waste paper a credit card sized calculator with a clock, calendar and "personal memo" (where you could type yourself in messages and recall them with a code word - I suppose pen and paper doesn't have code word feature!)). The calculator was unused and the battery isolator tab hadn't even been removed. It seems that it had been given away with Time magazine.
Maybe in 20 years people will be giving away PCs in order to sell other products and people will be throwing them away unused!
Pharmacists to Treat Minor Ailments
A move is afoot in the UK to allow pharmacists to issue POMS and to treat minor ailments. This will lead to cheaper health care and less time being wasted by patient and doctor alike. However all are not agreed on this idea.
Dr Richard Savage, a London GP, said in The Standard on 30 March that commercial interests could result in over use of drugs, and that pharmacists could miss indications that doctors are trained to observe, leading to serious results. They would need lots of malpractice insurance, he suggests! He was worried that pharmacists had asked to be able to prescribe POMs for embarrassing diseases such as oral thrush, as he claims these need the skills of a doctor to treat properly.
Another doctor said that anti-asthma drugs should not be available over the counter. Shortness of breath could also be due to heart conditions that a pharmacist might miss. Another said that in South America where everyone had the freedom to use anti-biotics, a number of diseases had evolved an immunity to them, including life threatening ones.
I would like to suggest that the problem could be solved to everyone's satisfaction by having the large pharmacist chain stores employing physicians who could be available to treat such minor illnesses from people off the street without any of the hassle of seeing "one's own doctor". Of course if they observe any of the dreaded diseases they can then refer the patient to his own doctor, but if the ailment is genuinely minor then they can prescribe a suitable remedy.
Vitamins - a Major Paradigm Shift
According to a long article in Time International of 6 April, a "major paradigm shift" (nice buzz word that!) is taking place in the scientific community about taking large doses of vitamins. Many scientists have realised that what people like Faloon and Kent, Pearson and Shaw etc have been banging on about for the last decade or so is not quackery but hard scientific fact.
Also, the authorities are waking up to what Dr Roy Walford said a decade ago: that there is a great economic incentive to delay the onset of geriatric diseases by a few decades.
Vitamin K (see earlier item) has also been shown to be of help in preventing the onset of osteoporosis, in a recent unreferenced Dutch study.
The article gives the now well known accolade to the antioxidants, ACE, or more to the point beta carotene, Vitamins C and E. The use of C and E to delay cataract onset has economic advantage, says the National Eye Institute. It would eliminate half the cataract surgery at present performed.
The benefits of vitamin E to the heart well known to immortalists was repeated in the article. Beta Carotene and aspirin mixture also received this accolade.
The article then went on to discuss the role of RDA, how they were established, and the FDAs proposals to reduce them by a staggering 80%. John Vanderveen, the FDA's fuhrer of nutrition, claims that the old RDAs are making the nation consume for more nutrition than it needs. He is imposing his ideas on the American people next year, the article says. The mind boggles as to how much more surgery and consequent early demises will result over the next few decades if he is successful.
The article concludes tamely that people should eat more vegetables to get their vitamins. But it advises people to "stay tuned", as "vitamins promise to continue to unfold as one of the great and hopeful health stories of our time."
Lawyers Prevent Use of Organs from Anencephalic Baby
In a judgement at could affect neurosuspension advocates, Judge Estella Moriarty rules that a baby born with no brain could not be used as a source of spare parts. She said that the brain-stem had to be allowed to deteriorate before the baby could be declared legally dead. Parents of baby Teresa Pearson has sought judgement for the baby to be used for spare parts rather than waste what life there was. However the law required that the baby expire "naturally",. by which time most parts would be useless. To give her her due, the judge expressed concern at the law she had to enforce.
This is relevant to neurosuspension (cryonic preservation of the head only) advocates, because one of the scenarios for revival is to grow an anencephalic clone from one of the cells of the patient, and then implant the brain restored from the frozen head within it.
This law is hardly a serious threat, as presumably by the time revivals are possible the law will have changed, and maybe even the impact of law on human activity may have changed. With increased technology, ie control over the environment, wrongs are more easily undone, therefore there need be less law to compensate people.
Also unless people learn to spend less of their resources on conflict, progress may never reach the levels needed to perform revivals. No one ever said such progress will be easy, even if once it is made the revivals will be relatively simple to implement.
Jobs and Doctors Records
It is becoming an increasing practise in the UK for applicants for employment to be made to sign forms requesting their doctors to give potential employers their full medical history. The Mail on Sunday of 5 April reports Dr Orest Mulka and his partners at the Measham Medical Centre in Leicestershire as refusing to part with such information even if the patient has agreed. Dr Mulka points out that if the patients don't sign the form then they don't get the job. It is coercing people because of the employment situation.
Two young teachers applying for a post at Staffordshire County Council had given permission for disclosure. When Dr Mulka refused, the council subjected them to medical examinations instead, and were given the jobs.
Dr Mulka says that if this becomes a general practice, then the doctor-patient trust will be dissolved. The National Council for Civil Liberties is also taking up the case.
This carries on with what I have said years ago about medical examinations for life insurance. Ordinarily when someone is submitting to a medical examination it is because if the doctor finds something wrong he is going to help the patient. The relationship is quite different when life insurance is involved, because if he finds something wrong in these circumstances he is then going to hinder the patient by preventing from getting insurance. The same applies now to jobs, apparently!
An Educational Comment from Mike Zehse
Mike Zehse had this letter published in a newspaper, but he didn't give its name:
I'd like to add my two ecus worth to the great boarding school debate.
Obviously some schools are better than others and some children thrive there. However far too many parents seem to decide on a boarding school without any reference to their children's temperament or personality.
As a thoughtful sensitive boy, I was driven to the brink of suicide by five years in a minor public school hell.
Anne Ager (Letters, 30 March) refers to the availability of "male discipline" at her son's boarding school. It is indisputable that many cruel, warped and perverted men deliberately seek employment in boarding schools where they can exercise their aberrant inclinations.
I vividly remember half naked canings at the hands of these men Ms Ager mentions as "a constant supply of friends".
My recollection if of ceaseless sarcasm and unsmiling brutality. I hardly recall a gesture of kindness, tenderness or affection.
The food was disgusting. The lavatories were a disgrace. The staff mainly comprised inadequates who could not get gainful employment in the outside world.
I repeat my comment that in an immortalist world children will be few and far between, but parents will be expect to acquire the skills to educate them themselves. That is not to say that children will never mix with other children, but the experience will occupy a smaller percentage of their time and will be more carefully monitored than now.
Generic Substitution Saves Costs
British pharmacists are to be allowed to substitute generics for prescription medicines. These are the same as the branded types, but cost far less, ie one often pays a lot for the brand name. An article in The Independent of 18 March said that the change will save the British National Health £80 million in a year, and that is taking into account compensation they would have to pay the pharmaceutical companies.
The change, already in effect in the US, Germany and Holland, also leads to efficiency. Chemists only have to stock one type of a particular preparation instead of several brands.
This and similar changes will obviously lead to a slow down in the share price rise of the pharmaceutical companies. However there is still a lot of research in the pipeline, and as this comes through shareholders' enthusiasm is expected to continue. The time to get worried is if and when these companies start to cut down their research budgets. It is the research budget, not the dividend, that is the real key to share price growth.
Lenin For Sale
An article in The Guardian of 11 March described a rumour that Lenin's corpse was to be offered for sale by tender to raise money for the Russian government. The Communist leader has been preserved since his death by a chemical process.
However the rumour was taken seriously by some, and a Brooklyn car dealer bid $10,000, whereas an unnamed historian in Minnesota bid $37 million "to help Russia with much needed foreign currency." Bids were sent to Mr Victor Barannikov, head of the Russian security Ministry at The Kremlin. This is the successor to the KGB, who were previously in charge of Lenin's remains.
An article in The Daily Express of 8 March detailed how a company sold prescription only medicines (POMs) to treat baldness. The mixtures of three POMS was called Renewal, and contained minoxidil, progesterone and tretinoin.
Male pattern baldness, as mentioned in these columns before, is caused by a by-product of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Progesterone is a female hormone and this counteracts the testosterone, whereas minoxidil is the heart drug that regenerates hair grown in some cases, and tretinoin is the skin rejuvenator of vitamin A derivation.
However doctors consulted by the newspaper said that unsupervised use of this mixture could result in men growing breasts and women growing beards and having menstrual problems. In addition, scalp defects could result. Harley Street specialist Dr Moffat said these effects could be avoided by careful professional monitoring.
However the company supplying the product employed an ex-Royal Army Corps Medical Officer to sign prescriptions - without even seeing the patients. A pharmacist dispensed the prescription who said that there was no reason not to dispense it once he had seen the prescription.
My comment here is that the real villains behind this piece are the medical profession to which the public seem afraid to approach with requests for products such as these. In order to keep fee income up, they limit supply of qualified people by making the courses of study difficult to pass. However as there is a chronic shortage of physicians, those that are available don't have the time to treat the disease of aging, only its more serious consequences.
Although in most countries health care isn't rationed, people with "trivial complaints" are denied professional consultations - except with charlatans and the unscrupulous. The professions would be better advised to make more quality advice available to such people as want it, as opposed the enacting regulations that make it impossible to at least hard for people to get anti-aging products.
Hospital Investigation Leads to Death
According to The Eastern Daily Press of 3 March, mother of three Theresa Fisher fell ill after returning from home following hospital investigation to discover if the could have more children(!)
Her general practitioner failed to come out to see the woman, who later perished from peritonitis, caused by the investigation.
At a court hearing, Doctors Anamann and Patel, of Netherfield, Milton Keynes, were ordered to pay £30,000 compensation to her family. Six months earlier, Mrs Fisher (30, a widow) had married Stephen Fisher (20) and they hoped to have more children.
Post-menopausal Women Give Birth
Italy is the country where the oldest woman gave birth - 54 year old Giuseppina Maganuco, according to Today on 10 March. Disapproved by the Catholic Church, a clinic just a few blocks from the Vatical is said to be ahead of London's Lister Hospital, where the oldest woman was 50 years old.
Mrs Maganuco had a history of desperation for a child, caused by professional bungling with the diagnosis of her infertility. A correct diagnosis was only obtained when she was too old - by natural standards. She then described how in a dream the virgin Mary came to her and gave her a baby: "She held him to me and I cuddled him tenderly" she is quoted as saying. They then saw a television programme in which Professor Antinori and his clinic at Prati, Rome, was shown.
However the baby science gave her was female, but she still regards her as a gift from Jesus Christ.
Professor Antinori will only treat women after careful screening. The menopause weakens the heart, the vascular system and the bones. Only those strong enough are accepted, which is 30% of those who apply.
Sperm Counts Are Falling
An article in The Independent on Sunday of 8 March suggested that sperm counts are falling in Western males. Possible reasons given are PCBs, (now banned) and dibromochloropropane, a vermicide.
Researchers say that this is a difficult subject for which to find mechanisms, but the latest work done by Professor Niels Skakkabaek of the Rigshospital in Copenhagen suggests that the average sperm count has fallen dramatically over the past 50 years.
Perhaps cryonics and life extension should be taken more seriously by those keen on the lifespan of the species but so far oblivious to the individual.
"You're Going to Die Anyway" - Doctor
A letter from a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer in The Evening Standard on 19 March complained that as a sufferer of MS his doctor refused to investigate a pain in his side, saying it was another effect of MS. After he insisted by arguing for 14 months, they found cancer, which was successfully cut out. His comment was that MS sufferers seem to be written off by their doctors. His doctor initially told him he had MS and between 6 months and 21 years to live, whilst not looking up from something he was writing.
This story is particularly interesting to Immortalists, because they argue that we are all dying from an incurable disease - ageing. Should doctors not treat anyone because they will die eventually? If they have this attitude, then they should cease treating all patients and work solely on research to find a cure for ageing!
The Guardian of 18 March described how the works of L.R. Hubbard, the founder of the Scientologists, have been preserved by the group. They are sealed in titanium capsules in an archive buried beneath a meadow in Humboldt County, California. It is 375' long by 25'wide by 40' high, with steel walls protected by reinforced concrete. All that is seen above ground is a ventilator and a "no trespassing" notice. The doors are of 18" thick steel.
Most of Mr Hubbard's prolific output of science fiction stories are out of print, but the works preserved in this vault are his works relating to the science fiction religion he invented - initially as a joke. Some of his religious texts are etched in sheets of stainless steel, a treatment not yet afforded to The Bible. The vault is designed to withstand nuclear attack and earthquakes and other "acts of God"! (I would comment that the latter precaution is amusing for something purporting to be a religion!)
Fish Cartilage Rejuvenator
The Evening Standard of 20 January devoted a page to an article on Imedeen a preparation containing fish cartilage, sea plants, vitamin C and zinc, sold as an anti ageing treatment. It was developed by a young Finnish doctor, Attila Dahlgre, and has undergone one trial at Helsinki Hospital.
The results show that it could make a substantial difference to wrinkles, mottles and dry skin in women aged 45-65. Further studies are underway in France, Holland and Denmark. As usual the medical establishment is sceptical, and Dr Anthony Young of the Institute of Dermatology in London says he is not sure how it could work. He would like to see more tests before giving a firm opinion.
The article continues with a series of anecdotes from satisfied users during a three month study by a private laboratory in Bolton, Lancs.. Leslie Kenton, a writer of health books, says she has tried it and found it to work for her.
Imedeen is available from Health Innovations Ltd., Unit 10, Riverside Business Centre, Shoreham, West Sussex BN43 6RE. It costs 5p under £25 for a month's supply.
Bronze Age Man (4,000) Used in IVF experiment.
According to The Sun of 15 January a woman has offered to take part in an experiment to have the child of a 4,000 year old Bronze Age man found in a glacier in the Austrian Alps. Professor Konrad Spindler, of Innsbruck University said they would need to recover undamaged genetic cells from the body.
Murder Trial May Set Death Definition
A Canadian couple will stand trial for beating their foster child to death, reports The Standard of 9 January. An Alberta court said that they should stand trial for murder, despite the fact that the child is still breathing on a life support system. However experts say he will remain in a vegetative state. Prosecutors say that the jury will have to decide on legal and medical definitions of life and death.
Exercise for the Over 70s
A trial is taking place, organised by London's Royal Free Hospital, to investigate whether fitness training amongst Britain's elderly could reduce the country's massive institutional care bill. The number of over 85s will increase by 50% by the year 2000, and the study hopes to show that a simple fitness programme can reduce the numbers needing institutional care.
They want to dispel the hypothesis that exercise causes additional wear and tear on the body. The also want to make elderly people capable of getting up off the ground - something many can't do and are therefore vulnerable if they fall whilst alone.
Higher Salaries Attract UK Nurses to US
An article in Today of 2 January says that sign-on fees of £2,500 and high salaries are attracting British nurses from the National Health Service to go and work in American hospitals. However some have experienced distress at incidents such as observed by Ms Mary Cairns-Berteau. She has worked for three years in the US, and says many times she has seen emergency patients fitted up with tubes only to have them removed when the clerk rushed in to say that there was no insurance. Ms Cairns- Berteau is quoted to have said "US doctors are, by and large, the most avaricious, cynical people I have ever met in any profession."
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