A Body, Only a Body. And Nothing More

[I came across Mr. Nygard’s ode to human endurance three years ago while beginning research on a novel about a woman who can’t die, and watching that video allowed me to experience something close to life extension. As Mr. Nygard compared himself to Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin while dancing with a bevy of models — or as a voice-over explained, “living a life most can only dream of” — nine minutes of YouTube expanded into a vapid eternity, where time melted into a vortex of solipsism.

But men who hope to live forever might pause on their eternal journey to consider the frightening void at invincibility’s core. Death is the ultimate vulnerability. It is the moment when all of us must confront exactly what so many women have known all too well: You are a body, only a body, and nothing more.]


Medicine, LGBT Community, and The Hippocratic Oath | The Curious Case of Mississippi, Tennessee and Maybe Florida


A fragment of the Oath on the 3rd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2547

In the first week of April, Mississippi passed a new law making it expressly legal for doctors, psychologists, and counselors to opt out of any procedure or choose not to take on any patient if doing so would compromise their conscience. The law is specifically designed to protect medical professionals who object to gay marriage and non-marital sex.Tennessee’s general assembly just passed a similar law, which would only apply to counselors, and a now-dead Florida bill would have protected religious health-care organizations from having to “administer, recommend, or deliver a medical treatment or procedure that would be contrary to the religious or moral convictions or policies of the facility.”

Medical exemptions, though, deserve to be considered in a category of their own. Doctors and therapists interact with people at their most vulnerable, and their training and expertise gives them incredible power over patients. The advice they provide—or refuse to provide—to an LGBT patient could influence the treatment that person seeks. It could make that person less likely to seek primary care or identify themselves as LGBT to other doctors, which can lead to the “failure to screen, diagnose, or treat important medical problems,” according to the American Medical Association. The medical community has a problem: What should hospitals, private practices, and medical associations do about doctors and therapists who say it’s against their beliefs to provide care to LGBT patients?

Read the full article here | When Doctors Refuse to Treat LGBT Patients (The Atlantic)


The Hippocratic Oath (original -ancient Greek-), and modern version:

I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else. I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets. Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me. [5]

Modern version

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Organ Harvesting, China and the Falun Gong

[Since the crackdown began in 1999, hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been arrested and detained. Researcher Ethan Gutmann estimated that at least 15 percent of the population incarcerated in labor camps for the purpose of “re-education” is made up of Falun Gong practitioners. These findings are supported by the US State Department. According to human rights groups, detainees have been subjected to forced labor, torture, arbitrary execution and organ harvesting. In 2009, The New York Times reported that “at least 2,000” people had been killed since the crackdown began…..

During a Falun Gong rally in Taiwan in 2006, four demonstrators play in an action drama against what they said was the Chinese communists’ killing of Falun Gong followers and harvesting of their organs in concentration camps. China recently placed the outlawed group at the top of its list of terrorist organizations, despite no history of violence against others….]

Read the full story here | LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

Falun Gong | WIKIPEDIA

Why is Falun Gong Banned? | NEWSTATESMAN

Organ Harvesting in China | New York Post



Agar is Gone

[Microbiology’s most important reagent is in short supply, with potential consequences for research, public health and clinical labs around the world.

Agar — the seaweed-derived, gelatinous substance that biologists use to culture microbes — is experiencing a global downturn, marine biologists, agar producers and industry analysts toldNature. “There’s not enough seaweed for everyone, so basically we are now reducing our production,” says Pedro Sanchez, deputy managing director of Industrias Roko in Polígono de Silvota, Spain, which processes seaweed to make some 40% of the world’s agar.

The shortage can be traced to newly enforced trade restrictions on the seaweed, arising from environmental concerns that the algae are being overharvested. It is unclear how deeply the dearth will hit researchers, but it has already pushed wholesale prices of agar to an all-time high of around US$35–45 per kilogram — nearly triple the price before scarcities began. Individual researchers, who buy packaged agar from lab-supply companies, can pay many times this amount….]

Read the full article here | NATURE


Agar supply hit by seaweed shortage | By Joe Whitworth+, 01-Dec-2015

Thermo Fisher Scientific has temporarily stopped selling two agars due to a shortage in the seaweed used to make them.


Photo distributed by National Cancer Institute


The Professor of 3 No-s Who Received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine


“In China, she refers to herself as the professor of ‘the three nos’ — no post-grad degree, no experience working abroad, no membership in the Chinese academy of sciences,” says science writer Phil McKenna. Tu was recognized with a Nobel prize for rediscovering artemisinin, a plant derivative that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria. Her contribution isn’t widely acknowledged today, even in her home country.

“There was this scroll from 400 AD and ironically it was called ‘Emergency Treatments Kept Up One’s Sleeve'” — ironic because it had been kept up China’s sleeve for hundreds and hundreds of years, McKenna says.

Read the full article here | GLOBAL POST

Answering an Appeal by Mao Led Tu Youyou to a Nobel Prize | NEW YORK TIMES

Kampbell, Omura and Youyou Win Nobel Prize for Medicine | THE GUARDIAN

Health of Our Elders in USA

Seniors in America have more chronic health problems and take more medications than seniors in 10 other industrialized countries do, according to a new global survey.

The United States also stood out among the 11 nations surveyed by The Commonwealth Fund for having more seniors struggling to get and afford the health care they need.

For the survey, the researchers collected responses from more than 15,000 older adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Read the full survey | MEDLINE PLUS

100 Years, 100 Thinkers | The New Republic Ranks Who Defined the 20th Century

Philosophy, Medicine, Design, Economics, Literary Criticism, Music, Feminism, Digital Design, Art, Jurisprudence, Theology, Political Journalism, Diplomacy, Environmentalism, American Civil Rights, Sex, Humor, American History, Food

See all 100 thinkers here: 100 Years, 100 Thinkers | The New Republic