The Abortion Industry Has a New Enemy: Ultrasounds

The article’s headline is bad enough—”How the Ultrasound Pushed the Idea That a Fetus Is a Person”—but its subhed is the real work of art: “The technology has been used to create an ‘imaginary’ heartbeat and sped-up videos that falsely depict a response to stimulus.”

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

There are numerous other gems throughout the piece, such as her implication that only male doctors are allowed to use ultrasounds.

“Ultrasound made it possible for the male doctor to evaluate the fetus without female interference,” Weigel declares. Are female doctors banned from or incapable of doing an ultrasound on a pregnant mother? What about X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans? Are those marvels of modern technology that have helped to diagnose and cure countless diseases and physical maladies since their inception? Or are they evil technologies that merely enable peeping mandoctors to cast their eyes into the inner recesses of a woman’s body? Read the rest of this entry »


Kim Suozzi’s Brain Freeze: A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future

Cancer claimed Kim Suozzi at age 23, but she chose to have her brain preserved with the dream that neuroscience might one day revive her mind.

Amy Harmon writes: In the moments just before Kim Suozzi died of cancer at age 23, it fell to her boyfriend, Josh Schisler, to follow through with the plan to freeze her brain.

As her pulse monitor sounded its alarm and her breath grew ragged, he fumbled for his phone. Fighting the emotion that threatened to paralyze him, he alerted the cryonics team waiting nearby and called the hospice nurses to come pronounce her dead. Any delay would jeopardize the chance to maybe, someday, resurrect her mind.

It was impossible to know on that cloudless Arizona morning in January 2013 which fragments of Kim’s identity might survive, if any. Would she remember their first, fumbling kiss in his dorm room five years earlier? Their private jokes and dumb arguments? The seizure, the surgery, the fancy neuroscience fellowship she had to turn down?

An operating room at Alcor. The clear box is used to prepare the patient's head for preservation. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

An operating room at Alcor. The clear box is used to prepare the patient’s head for preservation. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

More than memories, Josh, then 24, wished for the crude procedure to salvage whatever synapses gave rise to her dry, generous humor, compelled her to greet every cat she saw with a high-pitched “helllooo,” and inspired her to write him poems.

They knew how strange it sounded, the hope that Kim’s brain could be preserved in subzero storage so that decades or centuries from now, if science advanced, her billions of interconnected neurons could be scanned, analyzed and converted into computer code that mimicked how they once worked.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

But Kim’s terminal prognosis came at the start of a global push to understand the brain. And some of the tools and techniques emerging from neuroscience laboratories were beginning to bear some resemblance to those long envisioned in futurist fantasies.

For one thing, neuroscientists were starting to map the connections between individual neurons believed to encode many aspects of memory and identity.

The research, limited so far to small bits of dead animal brain, had the usual goals of advancing knowledge and improving human health. Still, it was driving interest in what would be a critical first step to create any simulation of an individual mind: preserving that pattern of connections in an entire brain after death.

“I can see within, say, 40 years that we would have a method to generate a digital replica of a person’s mind,” said Winfried Denk, a director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany, who has invented one of several mapping techniques. “It’s not my primary motivation, but it is a logical outgrowth of our work.”

Mad-Science

Other neuroscientists do not take that idea seriously, given the great gaps in knowledge about the workings of the brain. “We are nowhere close to brain emulation given our current level of understanding,” said Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York and one of the architects of the Obama administration’s initiative seeking a $4.5 billion investment in brain research over the next decade.

“Will it ever be possible?” she asked. “I don’t know. But this isn’t 50 years away.”

There would not, Kim and Josh well understood, be any quick reunion. But so long as there was a chance, even a small or distant one, they thought it was worth trying to preserve her brain.

Might her actual brain be repaired so she could “wake up” one day, the dominant dream of cryonics for the last half-century? She did not rule it out. But they also imagined a different outcome, that she might rejoin the world in an artificial body or a computer-simulated environment, or perhaps both, feeling and sensing through a silicon chip rather than a brain.

00immortality-photos-slide-q7wj-superjumbo

The containers that are used to store frozen brains and bodies at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

“I just think it’s worth trying to preserve Kim,” Josh said.

For a brief period three years ago, the young couple became a minor social media sensation as they went to the online forum Reddit to solicit donations to pay for her cryonic storage and Kim posted video blogs about her condition.

And she agreed to let a Times reporter speak to her family and friends and chart her remaining months and her bid for another chance at life, with one restriction: “I don’t want you to think I have any idea what the future will be like,” she wrote in a text message. “So I mean, don’t portray it like I know.”

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

In a culture that places a premium on the graceful acceptance of death, the couple faced a wave of hostility, tempered by sympathy for Kim’s desire, as she explained it, “not to miss it all.”

Family members and strangers alike told them they were wasting Kim’s precious remaining time on a pipe dream. Kim herself would allow only that “if it does happen to work, it would be incredible.” “Dying,” her father admonished gently, “is a part of life.”

Part of the container in which Kim's preserved brain is stored. A third of the $80,000 fee Kim paid for preservation has been placed in a trust for future revival. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Part of the container in which Kim’s preserved brain is stored. A third of the $80,000 fee Kim paid for preservation has been placed in a trust for future revival. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Yet as the brain preservation research that was just starting as Kim’s life was ending begins to bear fruit, the questions the couple faced may ultimately confront more of us with implications that could be preposterously profound. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Animation Convention: Characters Turn Out for Hong Kong’s Comic Fair


The city’s biggest animation convention draws thousands of comic lovers each year. Fictional characters too make an appearance. We speak to superheroes Spiderman and Captain America, and Minions. Photo/Video: Joyu Wang/The Wall Street Journal

 


World’s Hottest Pepper Saves Man’s Life

Jolokia

Randy Schmitz Survives: ‘The Tumor Would Not Have Been Discovered had it not been for the Hot Sauce’

MYRTLE BEACH (WITI) —  reports: A man claims hot sauce saved his life!

Randy Schmitz of Orland Park, Illinois has always loved hot sauce. So when he was vacationing in Myrtle Beach last summer, he decided to stop at a hot sauce store and take their challenge.

Flashbang

Contestants had to dip a toothpick in the hot sauce and put it on their tongues. One of the hot sauces in this hot sauce challenge is so incredibly hot, people are required to sign waivers before sampling it.

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit.”

It’s called “Flashbang” and combines Carolina Reaper, scorpion, and habanero peppersaccording to the Huffington Post. The Carolina Reaper was crowed the world’s hottest pepper a few years ago.

untitled11

“Schmitz was rushed to an emergency room for an MRI scan of his brain. That’s when they discovered a cancerous brain tumor in its early stages.”

“I made it the five minutes. My sister then said she wanted to take the challenge, but I said, ‘you might want to hold off. I’m feeling really sick,’” Schmitz told ABC News.

The sauce caused Schmitz to suffer a seizure.

capture14

“Within a few days, he had the tumor removed and the treatment was complete. The tumor would not have been discovered had it not been for the hot sauce.”

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit,” he said in the letter he sent to the Pepper Palace, the business that hosted the challenge. Read the rest of this entry »


What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science

bundy-660x446

For WIRED, Greg Miller writes: Ted Bundy, shown here in 1978, unwittingly had a role in sparking Kent Kiehl’s interest in psychopaths. Photo: Donn Dughi/Bettmann/CORBIS

Kent Kiehl was walking briskly towards the airport exit, eager to get home, when a security guard grabbed his arm. “Would you please come with me, sir?” he said. Kiehl complied, and he did his best to stay calm while security officers searched his belongings. Then, they asked him if there was anything he wanted to confess.

psychopath-sm

Kiehl is a neuroscientist at the Mind Research Network and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and he’s devoted his career to studying what’s different about the brains of psychopaths — people whose lack of compassion, empathy, and remorse has a tendency to get them into trouble with the law. On the plane, Kiehl had been typing up notes from an interview he’d done with a psychopath in Illinois who’d been convicted of murdering two women and raping and killing a 10-year old girl. The woman sitting next to him thought he was typing out a confession.

[Order The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience from Amazon]

Kiehl recounts the story in a new book about his research, The Psychopath Whisperer. He has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years, and the book is filled with stories of these colorful (and occasionally off-color) encounters. (Actually, The Psychopath Listener would have been a more accurate, if less grabby title.) More recently he’s acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. So far he’s scanned about 3,000 violent offenders, including 500 psychopaths.

Read the rest of this entry »