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    The complexity of the human immune system

    The immune system is an unsung hero most days of our lives. We would all quickly die without its efficient functioning. But how complex is it. Take a look at this animation which is an extremely simplified version of this incredibly complex system. Then thank your immune system for doing a good job today. For another animation focusing only on the production of antibodies, see the following:

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    Be careful who you choose as your friends, because you tend to imitate them.

    Think carefully about who you will spend time with, because you tend to imitate the people around you. That is the message from this article from BBC, Excerpt:

    “There is good reason to believe that when we use normative behaviour it makes us feel good because we’re connecting with a social group,” says Higgs. “If you are with a new social group, you are more likely to imitate behaviours.”

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    The State of Missouri is on the verge of closing Missouri’s last remaining clinic that provides abortions.

    The State of Missouri is about to force the closure of Missouri's last remaining abortion provider, a Planned Parenthood clinic in the City of St. Louis. Here is the article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Excerpt:

    Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday the facility's license was in jeopardy after the state sought to "interrogate" doctors as part of an annual license renewal process. Officials said the move was an "intimidation" tactic by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

    The Missouri State Government wouldn't force this closure without having a plan to address the resulting large increase of unplanned pregnancies, would it? Or is this a plan to fill the cities of Missouri with thousands of unwanted children?

    If the plan is to encourage people to use birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, then why does Missouri support (with generous tax credits) fraudulent "crisis pregnancy clinics" that lie about birth control options? See this Naral report (p. 4) listing the prevalence of lies by these dishonest tax-supported clinics. See also, John Oliver's investigation of these fake clinics.

    Perhaps the people who have been protesting Planned Parenthood will now occupy their time in other ways. Maybe each of them will be adopting and raising hundreds unplanned unwanted babies each year.

    Or maybe this is really a plan to help fill the coffers of private prisons. See the Dubner post here.

    The closure of this Planned Parenthood clinic would be an immense problem for all residents of Missouri (as detailed by this Guttmacher report), even for those whose instinct is to put a band-aid on an issue that gives them discomfort, with the assumption that the underlying complex problem will just go away.

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    What Julian Assange has done

    At Truthdig, comedian Lee Camp summarizes important Wikileaks revelations and points out why each of these leaks is important. In the meantime, many news outlets vilify Assange without recognizing the important work he has done.

    Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

    “Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America.


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    Connecticut AG files suit against numerous generic drug manufacturers for price fixing

    The pharmaceutical companies sued in this case are not merely greedy. Many people who desperately need these drugs can no longer afford them, and they are going without, resulting in pain, sickness and even death. We need to stop mincing words. These defendant pharmaceutical companies are functionally assaulting and murdering innocent people through their predatory policies and their lies that there are "markets" when they have illegally destroyed any semblance of markets. Thank goodness that the Connecticut AG has brought this suit (now joined by 43 states). Shame on the U.S. Antitrust Department for not vigorously filing this suit a long time ago. Here is a key quote from the lawsuit:

    For many years, the generic pharmaceutical industry has operated pursuant to an understanding among generic manufacturers not to compete with each other and to instead settle for what these competitors refer to as "fair share." This understanding has permeated every segment of the industry, and the purpose of the agreement was to avoid competition among generic manufacturers that would normally result in significant price erosion and great savings to the ultimate consumer. Rather than enter a particular generic drug market by competing on price in order to gain market share, competitors in the generic drug industry would systematically and routinely communicate with one another directly, divvy up customers to create an artificial equilibrium in the market, and then maintain anticompetitively high prices. This "fair share" understanding was not the result of independent decision making by individual companies to avoid competing with one another. Rather, it was a direct result of specific discussion, negotiation and collusion among industry participants over the course of many years.

    Try and give me a better example of Hannah Arendt's banality of evil. In short, thousands of ordinary-seeming people, many of them like you and me, work for these corporate entities that have been illegally inflicting pain and death upon innocent people.

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    Movement is not necessarily progress (though it feels like it)

    I've often written that humans are prone to act without a legitimate plan because it seems like Motion is Progress. No one will accuse you of failing to do something if you are doing, literally, something, even if your are acting in ways that are nonsensical, harmful, counterproductive. Motion is Progress is a fallacy. Doing something is often a bad idea.

    Movement offers shelter from failure. When you’re in motion, you feel like you’re doing something. We convince ourselves that as long as we’re in motion, we can’t fail. As long as we’re doing something, anything, failure can’t really find us. Movement feeds our ego. Our evolutionary programming craves the validation of others. In a world that values action and short soundbites, nuanced conversations are hard. Others don’t have time to really listen to your nuanced story as they run to their next meeting. And telling people that you’re doing nothing results in disapproving looks. Movement offers the drug of validation to the outside world. It is far easier to tell others that we’re doing something than doing nothing. And so we do.

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    Drivers of expensive cars tend to drive their privilege

    My gut feeling borne out . . . Drivers of expensive cars are more likely to drive like jerks. These studies explore driver behavior in four-way intersections.

    A research team including Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner have been examining the way social status and wealth affects morality. Their findings — which are getting a lot of media attention — broadly show that wealthier, higher-status individuals are, essentially, more likely to cheat.
    John Nichols and William McChesney gathered enough evidence on this topic of wealth privilege to fill an entire book: Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America. Also, check out the new podcast of Michael Lewis, Against the Rules. I've only heard the intro podcast so far ("Ref, You Suck"), but this is podcasting at its best.

    The study at the top, involving an simple traffic intersection with simple well-known rules, seemed like an especially good illustration that a disproportionate number of wealthy people feel and act out their privilege, even out in the open.

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