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Ben Best’s Lame Excuses

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Yesterday, I posted an entry that, for the most part, was something I wrote and saved, months ago. I posted it because I've heard others are attempting to convince CI to sever ties with ACS, and I wanted them to know I support their efforts. I think there are a few more things these people should know, about the "Cryogirl" situation.

Back in October, I publicly complained that Cryonics Institute's president, Ben Best, had done nothing to isolate CI from the American Cryonics Society (ACS), though he had been aware of the impending "Cryogirl Scandal," since February.

In an email, Ben responded that CI had 19 ACS patients in storage and he would not leave these patients “out in the warm.” I responded that no one was asking him to do any such thing, and told him his excuse for not taking action was "ridiculous." Ben responded with, "But that would be the consequence of CI severing all ties with ACS.” Ben, and I both know that neither he, nor anyone else at CI or ACS, can remove cryo-suspended persons from the cryostats.

CI is regulated as a cemetery, and it would take an act of Congress, (or, at least, a State of Michigan court order), to remove someone from the cryostats, at CI. Anyone aware of that situation, (as, certainly, Ben Best is), should have been able to figure that out. Personally, I think Ben Best was pretending to be altruistic, and making lame excuses; he was probably afraid that if heads started rolling, his would be one of them, since he was personally involved in the "Cryogirl" scandal. (Note: I don't think Ben did anything that should result in his dismissal, in regard to his part in the Cryogirl debacle. However, his reluctance to do everything possible, to protect CI, coupled with his recent efforts to conceal information about the Styles/TOV situation, from Andy Zawacki and the rest of the CI board, clearly indicate he cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of CI.)

I believe Ben Best attempted to apply some very subversive, psychological manipulations, on the cryonics community, when he wrote this, on the Cold Filter forum:

"The enemies of cryonics claim that I have conspired with vampires against the CI Board on the basis of the conversation I had with David in April. David's description of the conversation is a misrepresentation in this regard. There is a bright side to this allegation, however. To claim that I tried to hide David's affiliations from the CI Board is to admit that the CI Board has no connection with vampirism or satanism. Much as our enemies would like to smear CI as being satanist or vampirist, they cannot make this claim while at the same time claiming that the Board is an innocent victim of concealment attempts by me. They can't have it both ways."

I think Ben Best was, clearly, attempting to "rally the troops" against HIS critics, by painting any such persons as "enemies of cryonics." People who want the leadership figures of cryonics organizations to avoid allowing their organizations to be tied to scandalous activities, are NOT "enemies of cryonics." Cryonics is a process; no one can be an "enemy" of it. Ben was clearly trying to persuade the audience that I, and others, who objected to his unprofessional behaviors were THEIR "enemies." He tried to make two distinctly opposing sides, in the situation, using the term "our enemies," and "they," when discussing HIS critics. I am one person, who accused Ben of exposing CI to serious scandal, when he attempted to hide the truth about Styles, from CI's Board of Directors. I am not a part of any "they" comprised of "enemies of cryonics," and I do not want to "have it both ways." I have NOT accused CI's board of being connected to vampirism, or satanism. I'm just one person, tremendously disappointed in Ben Best.

Ben Best claims to have a background that includes advanced-level physics, chemistry, and pharmacology, yet he consistently makes simple errors, related to these fields. For many years, CI recorded "patient pressures" of approximately 100mmHg, until I pointed out that most of that pressure could be attributed to the small lumens of the cannulae being used by CI. (When I made that observation, I was unaware of Ben's educational background, or I probably would not have been very understanding of that mistake. For a layman to overlook such a mistake is understandable, but for someone claiming a background in advanced physics, it's inexcusable.) It's a very simple concept: If you restrict the outlet diameter of a hose, the pressure in the hose increases.

After my last visit to CI, Andy Zawacki called me, quite exasperated, because he and Ben were having a disagreement, over how to zero the pressure sensor/alarms, on the perfusion circuit. He said Ben was insisting they set the pressure sensor to zero, while fluid was flowing through the pressure line, something that made no sense to him (Andy). He said Ben insisted I told him that was the way perfusionists zero the pressure line. I told Andy to check the documentation I had left, which clearly indicated there should be no flow through the line, and the line should be open to air, before the sensor is set to zero. Again, an elementary concept...obviously, the sensor should be set to zero, when the pressure is KNOWN to be zero! Simple physics. Andy recognized that, but Ben did not. (Ben was recalling my instructions for flushing the line, not zero-ing it.) Again, this is something that should have been instantly obvious, to someone with a background in physics.

Then, there is the matter, of Ben writing, in the CI-95 case report, (in the same sentence, I believe), that "solids formed in solution, but there were no precipitates," when "precipitates" ARE solids that form as the result of a chemical reaction, certainly something any pharmacist should know. This event occurred, when Ben made the decision to modify the vitrification solutions, DURING the cryopreservation of Mr. Curtis Henderson. Was that something a pharmacist, or a chemist, would do? With his pharmacological background, shouldn't Ben have known the mixture would precipitate? Isn't it simply common sense, to avoid modifying the solutions, in the middle of a case, if one is not familiar with the outcome of including any given additive?

"Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside another solid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the precipitate..." (Emphasis added.)

As for Ben's extensive scientific writings, I have to agree with !Jill, who says, "It looks like Ben Best, and others in cryonics, write with their textbooks open." I think many of the scientific articles used to sell cryonics, are simply the regurgitation of information that has already been published in textbooks. How many of the insiders can actually contribute to the scientific advancement, of cryonics? Are they really accomplishing anything, or are they simply good academics, capable of impressing an audience comprised mostly of laymen? Are they impressing anyone, other than themselves, and each other, and people who don't have much of a scientific background?

Finally, there's the matter of Ben trying to defend himself, by referring to his income and his self-imposed "monkhood." How many people reading this blog entry get paid $30,000 a year, plus free room and board, and had all-expenses-paid trips to the UK, Japan, Germany, Arizona, Florida, and Oregon, (and maybe more), over the past couple of years? And, did anyone ask Ben Best to give up his social life, or his sex life, in exchange for the presidency of CI? I'm not buying into Ben's martyrdom, and neither should anyone else. There are a lot of, what my teenagers would call "posers," in cryonics, and I think Ben Best is one of them.

Many times I've heard the excuse that "no one else wants to be the president of CI," but I doubt that's true. Even if CI does not have the funds to attract a great scientific mind, having someone of integrity would be preferable to having someone who is "carrying more secrets than the Titanic," but feels he can "handle one more," (allegedly comments made by Ben Best, to David Styles), especially when it comes to withholding information from CI's Board of Directors.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

American Cryonics Society (ACS) and "Cryogirl"

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

In mid-July, I received a very long string of emails, which appeared to be from the private email account of "Cryogirl," (close to 100 messages, I believe). Most of these were forwarded messages that had been exchanges between Cryogirl and some well-known cryonicists, (members of ACS, Alcor and CI). I verified the contents of the messages with three individuals, (two whose private emails to/from Cryogirl had been forwarded to me, and a third person who was not involved, but who was aware of the situation). All three of these people acknowledged the emails were genuine. (Since they have now identified themselves, I will note the Alcor member was Shannon Vyff and the CI member was CI's president, Ben Best. I think Ms. Vyff has been doing her best to attempt to rectify the situation, but I can't say the same for Mr. Best, who seems to care more about himself, than his organization.)

I believe the person who forwarded the emails wanted me to publish them, but I was reluctant to, for a number of reasons. My primary concern was the children, (not just the children of Cryogirl and/or her husband, but the children of others, involved in the situation), who could be embarrassed and hurt by the contents of those emails, for many years to come, should those emails be published on the Internet, (which, unfortunately, they have been, many times, now). I did not forward these emails, (or even excerpts from them), to ANYONE. I engaged in private communications, as mentioned in the paragraph above, and "went fishing" on Cold Filter, with no response. The bottom line is: At least one leader (Jim Yount) of the American Cryonics Society (ACS), has been involved in some seriously questionable behavior directly-related to cryonics/ACS' activities, and the other leader (Edgar Swank) has publicly engaged in activities potentially damaging to the cryonics organizations he is associated with.

Most of the exchanges were what I consider to be cybersex between consenting adults, and are of no concern to me. There were some seriously disturbing accusations, regarding Cryogirl, her stepson, and a younger, autistic child. I won't go into the details, as I have been assured those activities have been reported to the proper authorities. Supposedly, other illegal activities, such as alleged software piracy engaged in by someone at ACS, have also been reported to the authorities.

The most damning information, related to cryonics, are the emails between Cryogirl and Jim Yount, of the American Cryonics Society (ACS). As I've already written, I couldn't care less what consenting adults do, when it comes to sex, but Mr. Yount crossed the line, when he paid Cryogirl funds from the coffers of a California non-profit organization. I'm quite sure he will claim to have been paying Cryogirl for some sort of marketing, in regard to the ACS money she received, and that the other funds he gave her were from his personal bank account, (in fact, Ben Best already provided this excuse, for Mr. Yount). My answer to that is, no reputable business, related to futuristic medical science, would have been found advertising on Cryogirl's MySpace page. (Note: Recent attempts to view Cryogirl's Myspace page, (which was, previously, easily accessible), resulted in warnings of security issues, so I have removed the link.)

The payments from ACS do not indicate they were for business-related services, but instead have labels such as "a spoonful of sugar." (I have screenshots of the actual PayPal transactions, if the State of California is interested). Judging by Cryogirl's MySpace page, or her Twitter page, (which has now been deleted, but was archived), I don't think anyone would believe marketing services from Cryogirl was a reasonable expenditure, for a non-profit organization. Her sites were not of the sort, on which companies said to be engaging in futuristic medical science-related research would advertise. More likely, Mr. Yount was interested in continuing his communications with Cryogirl, conversations that included discussions of the sexual activities of Cryogirl's 16-year-old sister, and nude photos of young women. While I think it's rather clear Mr. Yount was using money, and his position of power, at ACS, to influence Cryogirl's sexual communications, it's also quite clear that she was using him, and probably violating the conditions of the governmental support she receives, (allegedly for a psychological disability that the people taking advantage of her were said to have been aware of), by accepting money from him. (Our tax dollars at work.)

Cryogirl's husband claims Mr. Yount helped Cryogirl avoid questioning by the police, by funding her departure from her home state. A high-ranking person, in cryonics, admits he believes Mr. Yount provided Cryogirl the financial means for leaving her home, with the sole purpose of "shacking up with her for a few weeks." Cryogirl is an attractive young woman, and Mr. Yount is a man in his mid-to-late 60's, who, (judging from his emails), likes to engage in adolescent games, such as pretending to have an evil twin, who lives on Mars. (I don't know what the policy is on Mars, Mr. Yount, but here on Earth, we step down from positions of power, when we have embarrassed our entire professional community.)

ACS seems to serve no purpose, other than to pad the pockets and bolster the egos of two narcissistic old fools. They don't provide their own services, but act as a "middleman" for CI, adding to the cost of CI's services. It's time for the CI Board of Directors to take action, in severing ties with ACS. (No appeal, to Ben Best, as I am weary of his lame excuses.)

(Interestingly, "Cryogirl" can now be heard, on numerous Internet audiotapes, claiming she can "bring down" all of cryonics. She seems to be pretending to be some sort of super-spy, digging up dirt on the leaders of cryonics activities, yet some of them are said to still be funding her living quarters and expenses, in California, including a $1,300 a month apartment, (while she allegedly still collects social security income). This is what the decisions of people like Yount, Swank and Best have brought to the cryonics community. According to Cryogirl's husband, these men KNEW, through his warnings, that this young woman had psychological problems, yet they allowed her to cloud their judgment in running their organizations. The question is: "Is anyone going to do something about this, (other than try to "sweep it under the rug")???

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Olivier Valsecchi “Dust”

Posted: December 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Olivier Valsecchi Dust

Olivier Valsecchi Dust

Olivier Valsecchi Dust

Olivier Valsecchi’s latest collection highlights bodies in motion and accentuates the human form as it is met with dust. These photos convey beauty and discomfort. It looks as if some individuals are embracing the impact of dust and others are retreating from it, and still some seem to glide through it as if in water. Whatever may be the case for the models, the powder brings out the details of the bodies, even when obscured by small clouds. The images are haunting and beautiful.

You can see more of this work and Valsecchi’s other pieces on his site.

[via Change the Thought]

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Save Santa!

Posted: December 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Jon Adams Save Santa!

Click to see larger.

Santa’s stressed and overweight.  Help him pop a pill, find the way through his internal organs, and ultimately save Christmas!

Created by San Francisco based, illustrator and designer Jon Adams.

[spotted by Diane]

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Playland Campaign

Posted: December 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Playland by Rethink Communications heart

Playland by Rethink Communications brain

Playland by Rethink Communications intestines

I love this simple campaign for the Vancouver amusement park, Playland by Rethink Communications. Their advertising and design work is very fresh and smart, so if you need some visual and conceptual inspiration, check out their site!

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

“Walks of Life” by Cyriak

Posted: December 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

As part of Showtime’s Short Stories series futuristic multi-media artist Cyriak made the above video. It is the story of life, told in 2 minutes, using fingers. Cyriak is UK based and has several other animated shorts, comics, and other pieces you can check out on his site.

[via BuzzFeed]

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

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