[ Go to lecture about role of books today! ] Quotes that have touched me (page 14 of 16)
Disclaimer: Citation of a quote, below, does not necessarily imply that I agree with what it asserts (under whatever interpretation); it does mean I feel the text says something seriously worth thinking about.
"Every sentence that I utter should be regarded by you not as an assertion but as a question." --Niels Bohr[ Always reflect yet one more time! ]
[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]"There is more to the surface than meets the eye." --Aaron Beck
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In February, when Rob O. saw the text message from Parexel International pop up on his cellphone in London -- "healthy males needed for a drug trial" for £2,000, about $3,500 -- it seemed like a harmless opportunity to make some much-needed cash....
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Just weeks later, the previously healthy 31-year-old was in intensive care at London's Northwick Park Hospital... on dialysis, his immune system, liver, kidneys and lungs all failing -- the victim of a drug trial gone disastrously bad. One of six healthy young men to receive TGN1412, a novel type of immune stimulant that had never before been tried in humans, Rob O. took part in a study that is sending shock waves through the research world and causing regulators to rethink procedures for testing certain powerful new drugs.
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Although tests of TGN1412 in monkeys showed no significant trouble, all six human subjects nearly died. One is still hospitalized and the others, though discharged, still have impaired immune systems, their future health uncertain.... In statements this week, both Parexel and the drug's manufacturer, TeGenero, emphasized that they had complied with all regulatory requirements and conducted the trial according to the approved protocol....
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The British Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which approved the trial at Northwick Park, announced... that "the way the trial was run" had not contributed to patient injuries, according to its preliminary investigation. The men experienced cytokine release syndrome, which involves an outpouring of toxic molecules when the immune system's T cells are activated, the report said; it could not have been predicted from previous animal studies using the drug, the association, TeGenero and Parexel agree....
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Michael Goodyear, a Canadian oncologist and medical ethicist, said that even if the trial was not illegal or unethical, the research protocol and conduct on the day of the trial raise "a number of big red flags." The concerns Dr. Goodyear and lawyers for the subjects raised include these:
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¶Rob O. began receiving the drug intravenously long after the first volunteer was already experiencing symptoms possibly serious enough to halt the trial. Standard practice for such trials is to use just one patient or to separate tests by many days.
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¶The information submitted by TeGenero to British regulators mentioned that a cytokine burst "could occur" after TGN1412 infusion. But in their application, researchers deemed the reaction "not expected" on the basis of trials with a single animal species, and did not mention this risk to the recruits, Rob O. said.
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¶On its Web site, Parexel says, "The only services that matter are the ones that speed your product through clinical development." The subjects point out that approvals for drug trials in Britain are quicker than in the United States and the liability for injuries is less.
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¶Rob O. said the novelty of TGN1412 never came up in upbeat pretrial briefings, adding, "I had no idea it altered the immune system."
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... In statements, Parexel and TeGenero called the reactions "unforeseen and unexpected," noting that doses hundreds of times more powerful had proved safe in animals. The experimental application filed with British authorities... showed that the companies at least realized the possibility of a devastating immune-system reaction, and that animal studies showed some signs of immune overdrive. Those worries were set aside when monkeys infused with TGN1412 had no problems....
Elisabeth Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, NYT on the Web, 08Apr06; emphasis added. The article further notes: "British regulators took the highly unusual additional step of appointing an expert panel to explore whether more stringent safeguards should be required for testing new biological drugs like TGN1412 that manipulate the immune system. Many experts say that because TGN1412's unique property is to turn on potent, immune system T cells, overriding normal regulatory mechanisms, the clinical trials were extraordinarily risky. 'There was strong reason to be very cautious,' said Dr. Michael Ehrenstein, of University College London, who studies the molecules that TGN1412 affects. 'Many people would say this was a very high-risk strategy. I'd have to agree with that.'" Ed. notes: Often persons are criticized for 'having a negative attitude', not being 'team players', etc. when they try to discourage their organization embarking on some project that looks to them 'risky'. [Chicken Little is not always wrong.]
An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.... "You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus's death was all part of God's plan, then Judas's betrayal was part of God's plan," said... Karen L. King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School... the author of several books on Gnostic texts. "So what does that make Judas? Is he the betrayer, or the facilitator of salvation, the guy who makes the crucifixion possible?"....
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"Correctly understood, there's nothing undermining about the Gospel of Judas,"... James M. Robinson, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Claremont Graduate University... said.... He said that the New Testament gospels of John and Mark both contain passages that suggest that Jesus not only picked Judas to betray him, but actually encouraged Judas to hand him over to those he knew would crucify him.
John Noble Wilford and Laurie Goldstein, "'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years", NYT on the Web, 06Apr06.
Mutations making... the A(H5N1) virus, now devastating bird populations around the world... less lethal to humans may, paradoxically, be bad news... Dr. David Nabarro, chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations... said. A disease that kills half of those it infects often burns out before it reaches new victims, while one that leaves 98 percent of its victims alive, as the 1918 flu did, rapidly reaches hundreds of millions because it has so many carriers. Donald G. McNeil, Jr, "At the U.N.: This Virus Has an Expert 'Quite Scared'", NYT on the Web, 28Mar06. In a different direction, Dr. Nabarro points out about mass poultry killings (aka "culling") to try to stop the virus: "Each bird that lays eggs until it ends up in the pot... 'is a short-term savings account with a high rate of growth and a yield that no bank can match.' Culling ruins third world farmers the same way canceling Social Security would devastate the American working class. It forces the poor to hide their flocks and thus protect the virus." (ibid.) [Read more about: avian flu and SARS.]
Sars killed fewer than 800 people. Worldwide, one person dies every 15 seconds from tuberculosis. The countries that now make up the EU had 50,000 road deaths in 2001. Thirty years ago, it was thought that modern medicine and better hygiene were winning the fight against the spread of infectious diseases. Yet new viruses such as HIV, Ebola and Sars - as well as the prevalence of older diseases such as malaria and cholera - are an apt reminder that not everyone is guaranteed their allotted three score years and 10.... And what exactly is so frightening about every new pandemic scare story - death itself (which is inevitable) or how and when it occurs (which is not)? Iain Hollingshead, "Whatever happened to ... the Sars pandemic?", Guardian Unlimited, 25Feb06.
Three years ago, as they ordered more than 150,000 U.S. troops to race toward Baghdad, Bush administration officials confidently predicted that Iraq would quickly evolve into a prosperous, oil-fueled democracy. When those goals proved optimistic, they lowered their sights, focusing on a military campaign to defeat Sunni-led insurgents and elections to jump-start a new political order. As the conflict enters its fourth year today, the Bush administration faces a new challenge: the prospect of civil war. And, in response, officials again appear to be redefining success downward. If Iraq can avoid all-out civil war, they say, if Baghdad's new security forces can hold together, if Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds all participate in a new unity government, that may be enough progress to allow the administration to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in the country by the second half of this year. In increasingly sober public statements -- and in slightly more candid assessments from officials who insisted that they not be identified -- the administration is working to lower expectations. "It may seem difficult at times to understand how we can say that progress is being made," President Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address, acknowledging that much of the recent news from Iraq has been bad. "But -- slowly but surely, our strategy is getting results."... The more sober tone is not entirely new; officials, from Bush on down, have tacitly acknowledged for more than a year that trying to stabilize Iraq is proving more difficult than they expected when they launched the war in 2003. But independent foreign policy analysts say they see signs of a more fundamental shift in the administration's position -- a creeping redefinition of U.S. goals in Iraq that increasingly allows for the possibility that the nation may remain unstable for years to come. Doyle McManus, "A Sliding Scale for Victory: As the conflict in Iraq enters its fourth year and civil war threatens, the Bush administration is again working to lower expectations.", LATimes on the Web, 19Mar06.
If America had taken the trouble to learn more about Iraq before invading it in 2003, a lot of the problems we face there today could have been avoided. In fact, had the right questions been asked and answered accurately, the invasion might have been canceled before it began. For example, if the Bush administration had spent more time poring over the actual findings of American intelligence agencies, they might have realized then what almost everyone acknowledges today -- that Iraq's most dangerous weapons programs had been effectively shut down by sanctions and inspections, and that Baghdad was not helping Al Qaeda and had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks.
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If the United States had not invaded, Saddam Hussein would still be a headache for American policymakers and a nightmare for the Iraqi people. But in many ways, things would be much better. The United States would not have the bulk of its ground forces tied down in a stalemated counter-insurgency war. Iraq would not be teetering on the brink of a civil war that could ignite much of the Middle East. And Iran, which has emerged as the most worrisome threat in the region, would not have the benefit of client Shiite fundamentalist parties tightening their grip over Iraq oilfields and providing Tehran with the added security insurance of a friendly western frontier.
David C. Unger, "25 Key Questions on Iraq", NYT on the Web, Op Ed, 15Mar06. (See also: Quote #127.)
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[ Watch out! ]
[ Study American middle-class 21st century folkways at risk! ]Tehran warned Washington today that it could inflict "harm and pain" on the US to match any consequences Iran might suffer as a result of referral to the UN security council over its nuclear programme.... "The United States has the power to cause harm and pain. But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll," the Iranian statement said. "Iran threatens US with 'harm and pain'", Staff and agencies, Guardian Unlimited on the Web, 08Mar06.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Half of all malfunctioning products that are returned stores by consumers work just fine, if only the customer knew how to operate the device, a scientist said on Monday.... The average consumer in the United States will struggle for 20 minutes to get a device working, before giving up, the study found. Product developers, brought in to witness the struggles of average consumers, were astounded by the havoc they created. "Complexity causes half of product returns?", Reuters, 07Mar06 07:59 AM ET. See also: Quote #179.
[R]ational market behavior doesn't necessarily mean good public service. Ben Scott, "at Free Press, a nonprofit that promotes freedom of speech", quoted in: "Tolls could dot the Internet highway", CNN.com, 27Feb06; Posted: 11:51 a.m. EST: "On the Internet, the traffic cops are blind -- they don't look at the data they're directing, and they don't give preferential treatment. That's something operators of the Internet highway, the major U.S. phone companies, want to change by effectively adding a toll lane: They want to be able to give priority treatment to those who pay to get through faster.... The carriers are under 'tremendous pressure' from customers to provide more reliable service, said Shawn White, director of external operations at Keynote Systems Inc., which tracks the performance of Web sites and the Internet. Brief delays, for instance, could result in stuttering video, unacceptable to advertisers, White notes." (loc. cit.) Ed. notes: Stuttering video may be unacceptable to advertisers, but it's the only way I (BMcC) ever watch a serious documentary video, e.g., The Power of Nightmares.
Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago.... The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier.... "Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it's slowed everything down, paradoxically," said John Challenger, chief executive of... Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you're on to the next thing," Challenger said.... "It's harder to feel like you're accomplishing something." Unlike a decade ago, U.S. workers are bombarded with e-mail, computer messages, cell phone calls, voice mails.... Sixty percent of workers say they always or frequently feel rushed, but those who feel extremely or very productive dropped to 51 percent from 83 percent in 1994, the research showed.... Expectations that technology would save time and money largely haven't been borne out in the workplace, said Ronald Downey, professor of psychology... at Kansas State University. "It just increases the expectations that people have for your production," Downey said. Even if productivity increases, it's constanty outpaced by those expectations, said Don Grimme of GHR Training Solutions.... "The irony is the very expectation of getting more done is getting in the way of getting more done," he said. "People are stressed out." Businesses that have moved to 24-hour operations, bosses who micro-manage and longer commutes all add to the problem, [the experts] said, while downsizing leaves fewer workers doing the work of those who left. Finally, there's a trend among companies to measure job performance like never before, said Challenger. "There's a sense that no matter how much I do, it's never enough," he said. "Americans work more, seem to accomplish less", Reuters, Thu Feb 23, 2006 09:58 AM ET. The article also observed: "Companies that are flexible with workers' time and give workers the most control over their tasks tend to fare better against the sea of rising expectations, experts said."
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[ Watch out! ]
If the avian flu goes pandemic while Tamiflu and vaccines are still in short supply, experts say, the only protection most Americans will have is "social distancing," which is the new politically correct way of saying "quarantine." But distancing also encompasses less drastic measures, like wearing face masks, staying out of elevators.... Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, the deputy city health commissioner in charge of avian flu preparation, said his first move would probably be to ban Major League Baseball games, Broadway shows, movies, parades and other large gatherings. Closing schools or shutting the subways might be even more effective, because children are much more efficient than adults at spreading flu, and subways are enclosed spaces where sneezes linger in the air -- but doing that would be harder to pull off, Dr. Weisfuse said. "People talk about 'flu days' like snow days," he said, "and if it was just days or a week, that would be simple. But if it's weeks or months...." Without mass transit, no one gets to work and the economy collapses, he pointed out, and many poor children depend on the free breakfasts and lunches they get at school.... Donald G. McNeil, Jr., "Greetings Kill: Primer For a Pandemic", NYT on the Web, 12Feb06. Anent wearing face masks, the article says: "Getting people to don masks in Asia is relatively simple... Dr. Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention... said. Particularly in Japan, it is considered polite for anyone going to work with a cold to wear one.... But in the United States, 'we don't have a culture of courtesy mask use,' he said, and people may feel foolish [Ed. note: including me, BMcC!] wearing them.... The head of Taiwan's version of the Centers for Disease Control correctly noted that studies showed that masks do much more good if the sick wear them, keeping sneeze droplets in, than if the healthy do. But masks were rare on the streets, and the mayor of Taipei, the capital city, decided to ignore the data and pay more attention to the psychology. The sick and exposed would never wear masks, he reasoned, if it marked them as disease carriers. So he simply issued a mayoral order: no one without a mask could ride the subway. The next day, everyone in Taipei was wearing them. Within a week, they had become a fashion item, printed with logos like the Nike swoosh...." (See also: My webpage on: infectious diseases.)
"...there were 6 journalists [in a certain reformist newspaper]. Now all of the 6 journalists, they have tasted jail...." [journalist] himself spent 2 months in prison. He says he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement.... He was jailed not for what he wrote in a newspaper, but for comments he made in his online weblog.... He says his frightening experience in prison taught him... "Life is more important than any comment...." Iranian journalist, speaking in Steve Zind, "Iranian Journalists Face Increased Limits", NPR Weekend Edition (Sunday), 05Feb06. Ed. notes: Is the expression of any opinion worth dying or going to jail or being tortured for? If we consider religious beliefs[ In hoc signo vinces! ] to be opinions, then the question includes whether expression of religious beliefs (praying, preaching, etc....) is ever worth paying such a price....
[ The great divide ]   "People forget that Salman Rushdie's [author of 'The Satanic Verses', a novel purportedly sacrilegious of Islam] Japanese and Italian translators were stabbed (the Japanese fatally) and his Norwegian publisher shot." (Michael Kimmelman, "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery", NYT on the Web, 08Feb06)
I believe history will record that it was Chinese capitalism that put an end to European socialism. Europe can no longer sustain its 35-hour workweeks and lavish welfare states because of the rising competition from low-wage, high-aspiration China, as well as from India and Eastern Europe. Thomas Friedman, "Living Hand to Mouth", OpEd piece, NYT on the Web, 26Oct05.
MEMPHIS - A pregnant teenager went to the... county courthouse here early in the summer, saying she wanted an abortion. The circuit court judge refused to hear the case, and he announced that he would recuse himself from any others like it. "Taking the life of an innocent human being is contrary to the moral order," the judge, John R. McCarroll of Shelby County Circuit Court, wrote in June. "I could not in good conscience make a finding that would allow the minor to proceed with the abortion."... The actions, similar in some ways to pharmacists' refusal to dispense drugs related to contraception or abortion on moral grounds, have set off a debate about the responsibilities of judges and the consequences of such recusals.... Adam Liptak, "On Moral Grounds, Some Judges Are Opting Out of Abortion Cases", NYT on the Web, 04Sep05. [See also: Quote #233.]
FOR those who long considered it folly to settle a handful of Jews among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the decision to remove them starting this week seems an acceptance of the obvious. What possible future could the settlers have had? How could their presence have done the state of Israel any good? But for those, like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who created and nurtured the settlements, the move to dismantle them is something very different. It is an admission not of error but of failure. Their cherished goal - the resettlement of the full biblical land of Israel by contemporary Jews - is not to be. The reason: not enough of them came. "We have had to come to terms with certain unanticipated realities," acknowledged Arye Mekel, Israeli consul general in New York. "Ideologically, we are disappointed. A pure Zionist must be disappointed because Zionism meant the Jews of the world would take their baggage and move to Israel. Most did not."... Of the world's 13 million to 14 million Jews, a minority - 5.26 million - make their home in Israel, and immigration has largely dried up. Last year, a record low 21,000 Jews immigrated to Israel.... [T]he misery that Zionists expected Jews elsewhere to suffer has not materialized. More than half a century after the establishment of the Jewish state, more Jews live in the United States than in Israel.... Ethan Bronner, "Why 'Greater Israel' Never Came to Be", NYT Week in Review, 14Aug05, p.WK3.
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13 June 2006CE (2006-06-13 ISO 8601)
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