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Phantasmagoria at the Louvre (!!!): Paris, January-March 2011

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm



Parisian museums are getting more and more historically innovative with their programming. First, the amazing looking "Science and Curiosities: exhibition at Versailles (as discussed in this recent post). And now this just in: The Cinémathèque Française will be co-producing a phantasmagoria projection & spectacle in partnership with--and to be performed at--The Louvre!

Phantasmagoria, invented in the wake of--and said to be a response to--The French Revolution, are essentially ghost shows in which images of skeletons, demons, and ghosts (see top image) are projected via a modified magic lantern and, through a series of ingenious special effects, seem to move about, approach and retreat from, the viewer. These forms of spectacle were very popular around the time of the French Revolution and were also performed throughout the 19th Century; with the advent of film, they metamorphosed into the horror movie, a popular form to this day.

The phantasmagoria projection & spectacle at the Louvre will consist of a series of phantasmagoria projections and spectacles between the dates of January 13th until March 28th of 2011; The highlight will be a grand phantasmagoria projection on March 6 where guest Phantasmagores Laure Parchomenko & Laurent Mannoni promise to conjure-up a variety of spirits which haunted the aftermath of the Revolution at 14:30 & 18:00.

More information about this event can be found (in French) here.

Via the Early Visual Media website and mailing list.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"The Keeper of Curiosities" Royal Ontario Museum in the Wall Street Journal

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm


A nice appreciation of the cabinet of curiosity approach to contemporary museum curation in today's Wall Street Journal:

At the [Royal Ontario Museum, aka ROM ], objects taken from its separate collections (fine and decorative arts, history, textiles, archaeology, geology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology) are often mixed and matched in highly interdisciplinary displays to create a narrative not often seen in the more specialized museums that we are used to. For example, English dresses and slippers from the late 18th and early 19th centuries are displayed next to African and Asian clothing of the same era, alongside printing blocks and a wall-text description of berries used to produce dyes, because one of the points being made is how colors and patterns were dyed or printed onto these fabrics. Comparisons are being drawn about widely divergent cultures and industrial practices.

"In so many museums, curators are telling the story of the objects on display—why this is in the collection, why that is an important piece—while we're trying to use the objects in our collections to tell a story about how people go about their lives here and elsewhere around the world, and often about the intersection of the natural and cultural worlds," she said.
Here's another example: A display contains ceramic vases, silver, clocks, weathervanes and furniture from the 18th century, across from painted portraits of men, women and children who lived in Canada back then. None of the individual objects have their own labels, and only some wall text describes life in that time. Who were those people in the portraits? Who painted them? Where were those chairs and vases made? Did those people own that silver? Presumably, the curators know and aren't telling us. At the ROM, the point isn't so much the individual objects as creating a big-picture view of life at a certain time and place. "We encourage visitors to make connections in their own minds," Ms. Carding said...

The ROM is in some ways a throwback. Before people traveled so much or had such wide access to books and photographs (in short, an education), 18th- and 19th-century museums were cabinets of curiosities that provided a world of collected knowledge, a walk-in encyclopedia of objects both natural and man-made, practical and artistic. It is rare to find this type of institution anymore; museums now are more and more specialized...

Like the original cabinets of curiosities, there is a little something for everyone, but not so much as to bore people. Known as the "Stair of Wonders," the landings between floors have their own miniature displays—seashells or insects or battalions of metal toy soldiers—to perk up interest when it may be flagging. There's also a life-size, walk-through diorama of the St. Clair Cave in Jamaica, with its plaster-cast hanging bats, insects and stalagmites (based on ROM scientists' work at the site). "People here talk about their old favorites; so many people just love the bat cave," Ms. Carding said.

You can read the full article--from which the excerpt is drawn--by clicking here.

Image via Ddrees Art.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

What will your 2011 medical device design resolutions be?

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Well, 2011 is here, in some places already and where I am, it is slowly rolling in. Other than a couple of major resolutions/goals, I hit most of my spots in 2010, at least partly. I had similar results in 2009 and so on, so I am not averse to making goals and giving them a shot.

Remember goals are dreams with deadlines - and no, it's not corny. Maybe you have worn a bit with all the goal setting, but hey, what is wrong with dreaming and throwing some numbers or expectations on them? So, give it a shot!

Medical Device Design: You could be in sales, marketing or in non-profits that moan and groan about regulations all day - all important functions, but I thought I would make this post just about medical device design. After all, this is an example post and I am sure you can make your own goals up!

Oh, and look out for Goal 0 at the end!

Goal 1: Reveal your passions - to your conscious self!

Are you sure that medical devices is/are your passion? If so, what's your motivation? A personal event? Just the science, the challenge? Whatever it is, get to know it. And yeah, if you have been in it for a while and/or you have had some passion fatigue, it is still not a bad idea to take a couple of minutes recharging the "why" and the "how" of your participation in this mess...

Goal 2: Understand the disease/diagnostic/treatment area thoroughly

You probably already know this. You cannot effectively design for atrial fibrillation if you don't understand what the underlying disease is. And yes, sometimes we do not know exactly why something happens, but it is important to keep up with the latest and greatest theories and hypotheses behind a disease condition.

Yes, you may only be working on lung resection, but it behooves you to look into the cancer stem cell theory. You would be surprised at what you can glean.

Goal 3: Understand anatomy and physiology

Of course, goes without saying right? Just take care of it - maybe you should be taking a class, or taking that class again, or just going through the flash cards a second time...

Goal 4: What's that darn CFR 21, code say what?

Ah yes, those regulations. Well, maybe this year, we won't let someone else take care of it, especially since things are changing. The more you know, the better. And remember, the world and our times are changing. Don't stop with the US - look at EU, Japan and the developing world...

Goal 5: Read, read and then read again, learn and teach!

No matter how much you know, there is always room to grow. What do you know - that rhymes! There is so much to read out there - blogs, websites, regulations and so much more. How about a class on DFM? Maybe something about sustainability. Whatever it is that allows you to grow through change, go ahead....

Goal 0: Perk up!

Yes, someone got greedy, then they got bailed out and the economy is bad, the regulations are killing innovation (really, really, not), China is growing, and on and on and on it goes. If you have bought into any of this nonsense as the reason to sit and wait for "things to pick up", well, guess what, by the time you realize things actually have and by the time you start jogging, someone else will be running.

Write that executive summary, sharpen that presentation, test that prototype, get that resume reviewed - just get moving. What do they say - "Don't do something, just stand there!", right?

This is why Goal 0 is down here - because, let's end all this negativity, and this year on a high note, and that is how 2011 should begin. Yes, you will read this in 2011, so what?

This is time for change, time to push, time to run, walk, trod, jog and somehow get to that extra mile, maybe a mile and a half...and hopefully we see each other!

Wishing you all the success in 2011 and beyond!

Image Source: http://www.psdgraphics.com/file/happy-new-year-2011.jpg

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

International Stem Cell Corporation to Present Ethical and Technical Qualities of Human Parthenogenetic Stem Cells at the Center for Ethics in Science

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

International Stem Cell Corporation (OTCBB:ISCO), http://www.internationalstemcell.com, will lead a free public discussion highlighting the ethical considerations and medical advantages surrounding the derivation of human stem cells from unfertilized human eggs using ISCO's patented technology known as parthenogenesis. The discussion, sponsored by The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology, will take place on Wednesday, January 5th from 5:30-7:00 pm at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Community Forum, 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA. Jeffrey Janus, Senior VP, will be the featured speaker in a program moderated by Michael Kalichman, Ph.D., Director of the Research Ethics Program at UC San Diego and co-founder and director of the Center of Ethics in Science and Technology.

ISCO's patented method of parthenogenesis results in pluripotent human stem cell lines having the positive characteristics of embryonic stem cells without the damage or destruction of a viable human embryo.

In preparation for the discussion, Dr. Kalichman and Mr. Janus will be interviewed on Monday, January 3, on XETV channel 6 at 7:25 am, and on the radio show "These Days" broadcast on KPBS, 89.5 FM at 9:20 am.

Registration for the free event can be made at http://www.ethicscenter.net.

In addition to the ethical advantages of not requiring the destruction of a viable human embryo, parthenogenetic stem cells possess unique qualities allowing them to be immune matched to millions of persons, giving them the potential to be used in many future stem cell based therapeutic applications. ISCO has derived ten parthenogenetic stem cell lines in Russia using Western-style informed consent processes, and is now setting up processes in the United States. However, the ethical and regulatory requirements involved in obtaining unfertilized human eggs in the U.S. present challenges to ISCO and other researchers working in stem cell field. ISCO's hope is to conform to these complicated regulatory and ethical frameworks so clinical-grade human parthenogenetic stem cells may be derived in the U.S. and used to create a bank of parthenogenetic stem cells that may be used by millions of persons of different sexes and racial groups.

According to Dr. Kalichman, "Success in scientific development often depends on both public understanding of science and on understanding by scientists of public concerns. The participation of ISCO in the proposed public forums is praiseworthy as a way to meet both of these goals."

"In addition to the ethical considerations, human parthenogenetic stem cells offer a potentially superior solution to stem-cell based therapies because they allow immune-matching that may alleviate immune rejection problems that are likely to hamper other stem cell therapies. This is especially important when the patients have a genetically-based disease, and cannot use their own stem cells," says Jeffrey Janus. "ISCO is one of the few therapeutic research organizations pursing the utilization of these unique cells because of not only the ethical advantages, but also because of these important medical considerations."

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL STEM CELL CORPORATION (ISCO.OB):

International Stem Cell Corporation is a California-based biotechnology company focused on the therapeutic applications of human parthenogenetic stem cells and the development and commercialization of cell-based research and cosmetic products. ISCO's core technology, parthenogenesis, results in creation of pluripotent human stem cells from unfertilized oocytes (eggs). hpSCs avoid ethical issues associated with the use or destruction of viable human embryos. ISCO scientists have created the first parthenogenic, homozygous stem cell line that can be a source of therapeutic cells with minimal immune rejection after transplantation into hundreds of millions of individuals of differing sexes, ages and racial groups. This offers the potential to create the first true stem cell bank, UniStemCell™, while avoiding the ethical issue of using fertilized eggs. ISCO also produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research worldwide through its subsidiary Lifeline Cell Technology and cell-based skin care products through its subsidiary Lifeline Skin Care. More information is available at ISCO's website, http://www.internationalstemcell.com.

To subscribe to receive ongoing corporate communications please click on the following link: http://www.b2i.us/irpass.asp?BzID=1468&to=ea&s=0.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Statements pertaining to anticipated technological developments and therapeutic applications, and other opportunities for the company and its subsidiaries, along with other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management constitute forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not historical fact (including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as "will," "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates,") should also be considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and/or commercialization of potential products, uncertainty in the results of clinical trials or regulatory approvals, need and ability to obtain future capital, application of capital resources among competing uses, and maintenance of intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the company's business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Key Words: Stem Cells, Biotechnology, Parthenogenesis

International Stem Cell Corporation
Kenneth C. Aldrich, Chairman
760-940-6383
kaldrich@intlstemcell.com
or
Jeffrey Janus, Senior Vice President
760-940-6383
jjanus@intlstemcell.com

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Alcor’s CEO, Max More, Promotes Luciferianism and Pedophilia

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Someone...ANYONE...please tell me this is April first, rather than January first, and that there is a cruel joke being played on Alcor members.

Someone sent an email, to me, referring me to what is, allegedly, Max More's (Max O'Connor's), "most famous article": http://www.lucifer.com/lucifer.html

Yes, I read the introduction, in which Mr. More explained he's not really "implying the real existence of any of these supposed beings," and I get that he was simply protesting against irrational religious dogma, but I didn't quite understand why he repeatedly seemed to be indicating he DOES believe these are real beings, with very specific comments such as these:

"My praise of the Devil is not entirely (though it is mostly) serious...

The truth may just as easily be that Lucifer resigned from heaven...

God, being the well-documented sadist that he is, no doubt wanted to keep Lucifer around so that he could punish him and try to get him back under his (God's) power. Probably what really happened was that Lucifer came to hate God's kingdom, his sadism, his demand for slavish conformity and obedience, his psychotic rage at any display of independent thinking and behavior. Lucifer realized that he could never fully think for himself and could certainly not act on his independent thinking so long as he was under God's control. Therefore he left Heaven, that terrible spiritual-State ruled by the cosmic sadist Jehovah, and was accompanied by some of the angels who had had enough courage to question God's authority and his value-perspective..."
(Why make up such an elaborate counter-Christian story, if one doesn't believe these beings exist?)

"God and his Godists hate Lucifer's call for rationality...

God also hates us to enjoy ourselves, If we let ourselves experience too much pleasure then we might lose interest in obeying him...

Join me, join Lucifer, and join Extropy in fighting God and his entropic forces with our minds, our wills, and our courage. God's army is strong, but they are backed by ignorance, fear, and cowardice. Reality is fundamentally on our side. Forward into the light!"
http://www.lucifer.com/lucifer.html

After reading Mr. More's article, I had a laughing fit. Think about it...Saul Kent, and others, whining away, decade-after-dacade, about the failure to promote cryonics, and Alcor appoints someone sure to offend the majority of the world's population, as CEO. You've got to admit, that's pretty funny. I'm serious...I'm not trying to "jerk anyone's chain"...that's funny as hell, and to be honest, I was still willing to give Mr. More the benefit of the doubt, in regard to his ability to do something productive, at Alcor. Then, thinking I might have a few more laughs, I made the mistake of deciding to look up some more of Mr. More's writings, and came across an article he wrote, about having sex with children: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/polin/polin010.pdf

Some quotes from Mr. More's "Sex, Coercion, and The Age of Consent":

"It is difficult to comprehend how merely becoming friendly with a child, and then encouraging him or her to indulge in sexual activities, can be a violation of rights..."

Does it really matter whether the child has any understanding of sex?... Apparently, Mr. More is too stupid to realize PEOPLE CANNOT CONSENT TO SOMETHING THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND.

"If there is nothing objectionable about an adult giving a child sweets or toys, why is giving sexual pleasure wrong?...

Below the age of twelve or so, a child may not be particularly interested in seeking sexual relations but that doesn't mean he or she will not voluntarily accept and enjoy them...

As I have argued above, non-coercive sex with juveniles is not immoral--it is merely a matter of preference..."
http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/polin/polin010.pdf

Does Mr. More really think sex can be "consensual," between a child and an adult, given the inherent power imbalance? How many children does he expect to actually say "no" to an adult, usually someone who is supposed to be taking care of them? Oh...never mind...I forgot...he expressly DOES NOT CARE if they understand what is BEING DONE TO them. I suppose convincing little ten-year-old girls to "play doctor" might be easier than getting action from grown women. Is that correct, Mr. O'Connor???

Children who are coerced into childhood sexual encounters often grow up like "Cryogirl," someone who appears to place her entire self-worth on having every man she meets finding her sexually attractive. Does Mr. More understand the biochemistry of sex, and how such activity might disrupt a developing mind? Does Mr. More know his ass from a hole in the ground? Mr. More is a whack job, and the people who decided to appoint him as the CEO of Alcor, are a bunch of idiots. (My apologies to my friends, family, employers, co-workers, and anyone else who is offended...I'm finding it impossible to be civil.) ALCOR...ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MINDS?!!!!! I'm tired of this tabloid journalism...could you help me out, here, and hire someone with an appropriate background and a good reputation, so we could actually GET TO DISCUSSING THE SCIENCE of cryonics???

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Edgar Swank – Cryonics’ Tie to the Exploitation of Impoverished Young Women

Posted: January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I find it quite distasteful and upsetting, to be writing about the "Cryogirl Scandal," but if no one else is going to address the obvious leadership deficit over at CI, and the total uselessness and embarrassment of ACS, I feel compelled to. I wrote a lot about Jim Yount and Ben Best, these past two days, but little about Edgar Swank. I'm going to write about him, now, and then I am going to wash my hands of the Cryogirl situation, and hope the members of CI step up and demand new leadership, preferably someone who will place his organization's best interests ahead of generating income for his "friends," (something that would probably be a novel idea, in cryonics.)

On Swank's personal website, (which has been archived), one can find a link (including nude photos) to the young "Grace," who will "be your personal servant guide while visiting Cebu. She'll take good care of you," for a mere $400 a week. If $400 is a little too much for one's wallet, Swank includes a link to a travel agent in the Philippines, which promotes a boardinghouse in Cebu, where "girls" can be had for "$20 all night, $200 all week 24/7," along with links to "The Girls of Venezuela" and "The Erotic Traveler" which "is predominately about commercial sex with women of legal and proper age. Relationships, dating, and even inter-marriage are also explored. TET is for men who love the girls, nightlife, romance of Asia, Latin America, and beyond." (Mr. Swank and his friends are not only creepy and disgusting, but cheap.)

I hear Mr. Swank says prostitution is a "way of life" in the Philippines, and that is "what girls do over there." I also hear he claims to be assisting these young ladies, in finding a way to a better life, (?by selling them to American men?). I don’t suppose Mr. Swank ever thought of simply DONATING some of his money to schools, or healthcare, as opposed to promoting the exploitation of impoverished young women. Prostitution may be "tolerated," in the Philippines, but make no mistake, it is quite illegal.

Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal. It is a serious crime with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment for those involved in trafficking. It is covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. Prostitution is sometimes illegally available through brothels (also known as casa), bars, karaoke bars (also known as KTVs), massage parlors, street walkers and escort services.
There are an estimated 800,000 women working as prostitutes in the Philippines, with up to half of them believed to be underage.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_the_Philippines

Maybe I could talk Mr. Swank into taking a holiday, in the Philippines, and have some friends of mine meet him at the airport.

Let's not overlook
Swank's fond memories of his involvement in the Church of Satan, or his self-proclaimed "15 minutes (OK, more like 15 seconds) of fame," invoking the devil to "come forth, come forth..." on a Geraldo Rivera show. Swank was a little too old (about 29) to be playing make-believe, at the time of that show, if you ask me, and invoking Satan to "come forth," on national television seems to be nothing more than attention-seeking, adolescent behavior. By many accounts, organizations such as the Church of Satan and the Temple of Vampires appear to be little more than cults and pyramid scams, in which one can buy their way to the top.

To the cryonicists interested in crying "bigotry," in response to these criticisms, maybe you should point your finger at Mr. Swank. On his personal website, he links to the National Alliance, a white separatist organization. Below that link, is the comment, "Racial views expressed in this site and maillist are not necessarily those of Edgar Swank..." The racial views are "not necessarily" his views? Does that mean maybe they are? If he's not a racist, why is he including a link to that type of material on his site? Just out of curiosity, how many non-whites are there, in the cryostats and Dewars?

I don't know how to say this nicely...Edgar Swank and Jim Yount are a couple of scumbags, who exploit impoverished, vulnerable young women, and engage in questionable business ethics, while operating a non-profit cryonics organization, linked to CI. An interesting thought, just came to me...Would the scientists of the future look at the biographical information of Swank and Yount, and be charitable in donating their time and resources toward attempting to revive such individuals?

Maybe Mr. Swank's New Year's resolution could be to ASSIST the young people of the Philippines, (and more local needy young women), rather than EXPLOIT them. And, maybe his ACS partner, Mr. Yount, could donate some of his "spoons full of sugar" to cryonics research, or the needy, without expecting something illicit, in return.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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