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January 2010
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February 2010

Shutter Island

This pic could have been better if helmer Martin Scorsese or the studio saw fit to trim away about 20 minutes. That way, the "twist" ending would have been sudden enough to surprise more people.

Still, it's a mostly enjoyable cinematic experience, with some wonderful acting and creepiness. Given what we've had so far this year, that's probably enough.

Read my complete review.

Dolphin Assisted Therapy : A Gift From The Sea Or Destructive Hype?

That's the title of my latest HND piece, and let's cut right to the chase:

Dolphin assisted therapy IS just destructive hype. When the people against it include the lady who popularized it—only to later condemn it; along with the trainer of the dolphins from the TV show Flipper, you might conclude that something's up. Also lining up against it are real scientists who have studied it for years.

On the pro side are essentially just those who make a fortune by gouging desperate people—especially desperate parents of autistic kids. (Kind of like anthropogenic global warming being heartily endorsed by all the scientists who are getting grants to study it.)

If there ARE any benefits from animal-related therapy, they can be accomplished for a small fraction of what the dolphin rip-off artists charge, using commonly domesticated animals.

The piece also exposes some little-known facts about the vastly overrated Dr. John Lilly, and describes how a famous captive dolphin committed suicide.

Read the complete article.

One more stupid "environmental" cause

Most people in the US are probably unaware that back in 1984, Solano County, California passed a law prohibiting "non-local" garbage from being brought into county landfills. Since this is in clear violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, it was never enforced by county authorities.

Recently, though, this law—Measure E—has been invoked by so-called environmentalists, who are trying to block the expansion of the county's Potrero Hills landfill. Talk about being behind the curve!

I guess these self-proclaimed Greenies didn't get the memo that landfills are actually environmentally sound, especially since landfill gas contains methane, and has been used to generate significant amounts of power—with no pollution. Oh yeah, there is also some carbon dioxide in landfill gas, but it tends to stay in the ground, and last time I checked, CO2 is essential for plant life. Not sure what sort of moron would consider that a "pollutant."

Another point to consider in the double digit unemployment rate in the county. The landfill expansion would bring in new Green jobs, along with plenty of revenue.

I cover this story in my latest HND piece. Read the complete article.

Put some real heart into Valentine's Day

People have been celebrating Valentine's Day for centuries, and it has long been symbolized by a heart. Isn't it time that sweethearts actually become concerned about the hearts of their beloved?

My latest HND article traces the legend of St. Valentine, and then looks at what you can do to improve the heart health of your valentine. Heart disease is by far the biggest killer of women, surpassing all forms of cancer—COMBINED.

We list risk factors, and also detail some positive findings on Crestor, for those who need some pharmaceutical help in achieving their heart health goals.

Read the complete article.

Missteps at the Lancet

We addressed The Lancet's idiotic embrace of Andrew Wakefield in an earlier posting. A recent HND piece examines other lapses in editorial judgment by this once august publication.

Of special interest is their ludicrous inflation of the number of deaths in the Iraq war, an act of pure hysteria and junk science that earned them condemnation from both doves and hawks.

It's well past time to fire the editor-in-chief Richard Horton, only don't hold your breath. The Brits have a long and sordid tradition of keeping bad people in key positions. Does the name Kim Philby ring a bell? How about the knighted Anthony Blunt?

Read the complete article.

Crazy Heart

This pic premiered at the Santa Fe film festival back on December 6th, but has only recently been trickling into local theaters. In essence, you have a superb performance by Jeff Bridges as broken-down country artist Bad Blake, but the script is weak.

Tender Mercies covered this ground in 1983, and did it better.

Read my complete review, including spoilers, if you are so inclined.

More on the home health care robotic revolution

We've mentioned the CareBot™ from Gecko Systems before, but it's just such a great idea that it deserves more coverage.

When reporters write about robotics, they often refer to industry as a prime example of successfully integrating this technology. After all, robots play a central role in the manufacture of automobiles and other machinery so the example is an easy one—but an incomplete one.

The real revolution in robotics is in home health care. Some great apps are:

  • Monitoring patients
  • Dispensing medication
  • Communicating with doctors
  • Relaying important medical information

Gecko's CareBot™ is a home health care robot that promises to transform how we assist our loved ones. Reliable, durable and technologically advanced—the CareBot™ adapts to new surroundings and gives the peace of mind patients deserve.

Welcome to the new world of robotics!

Good news about good bacteria

Most of you are familiar with the concept of good bacteria and probiotics. You probably also know what can happen to your digestive system if you are on a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and forget to eat your yogurt.

Now, new research suggests that good bacteria function in priming the immune system. Since secondary infections—that is, infections that take place DURING a course of antibiotics—are a big problem in hospitals, the hope is that this work will lead to better outcomes for immunocompromised patients.

Read all about it, in a recent HND article.

A retraction from The Lancet that is very weak and way too late

Finally, many years after they should have, The Lancet—the once prestigious British medical journal—officially retracted Dr. Andrew Wakefield's 1998 report linking the MMR vaccine to autism following last Monday's judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel that the study was "dishonest and irresponsible."

The folks from the American Council on Science and Health were all over this...

"They (The Lancet) issued a miserably short retraction, and they didn't even do it on their own," says Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president. "They did it following the council's ruling. It's shameful. After all the destruction that has been done by that article, all the panic about vaccines and autism that caused so many kids to contract measles and other serious, preventable diseases, this is too little, too late."

"I don't understand what took them twelve years to do this," adds Dr. Gil Ross, Medical/Executive Director. "The Medical Council's opinion shouldn't be the determining factor. Eleven of the paper's thirteen authors withdrew years ago. This retraction is revolting and pusillanimous, and of course at no point do they acknowledge The Lancet's role in this farce, this child-killing travesty."

Regrettably, it will probably take another twelve years for this vaccine/autism nonsense to be excised from the public consciousness. It is noted that the retraction by The Lancet comes a day after a competing medical journal, BMJ, issued an embargoed commentary calling for The Lancet to formally retract the study.

Furthermore, no scientist not associated with Andrew Wakefield has ever been able to replicate his work. Second, as was exposed by U.K. reporter Brian Deer, not only was Wakefield paid big bucks by trial lawyers seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for "vaccine injury" to do his studies on autistic children, a conflict of interest he never revealed and that had to be exposed through Deer’s investigations, but months before he published his Lancet paper Wakefield had applied for a patent on a an allegedly safer single measles vaccine that could succeed best if the safety of the MMR were called into doubt.

The BMJ commentary said once the study by British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues appeared in 1998 in The Lancet, "the arguments were considered by many to be proven and the ghastly social drama of the demon vaccine took on a life of its own."