Monday, January 31, 2005

Worthwhile Reading.



In a world where addiction is often glorified, it is refreshing to find a novel that serves to dispel such notions. James Frey's A Million Little Pieces is a powerful, real life account of a man's fight against his addiction to crack cocaine. Unlike most tales about substance abuse, the author rails against common themes that are apparent in most rehabilitation methodologies. This is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.

This book really got me thinking... Do current rehab practices draw personal responsibility away from the addicted? For example, in rehab clinics alcoholic patients are often told that alcoholism is a disease. True, there exists controversial evidence that one's susceptibility to alcohol may be genetic (source), but aren't we tossing personal responsibility out the window when we equate addiction with disease?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

You've Paid for It!

Would you be willing to pay millions of dollars to fund a scientific study and never see the results of that research? Lemme guess -- you said no. Well, as a taxpayer (which I hope you are... see: Willie Nelson) you're funding government sponsored research and then denied access to the results.

No, I'm not talking about classified scientific studies. I'm referring to the research that is conducted at every major research institution. The National Institutes of Health, for example, had a total budget of 26.5 billion dollars in FY 2003 (source: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/03pch8.htm). One would think that taxpayers would be allowed open access to scientific finds that result from these studies.

Sadly, these results are often published in scientific journals that charge exorbitant subscription fees. As a result, taxpayers are blocked access to information that they have already paid for.

To address this problem a consortium of scientists has created the Public Library of Science:

www.plos.org

This organization offers free, open access to all articles it publishes. Plos Biology and Plos Medicine have been launched so far. For those of us who aren't scientists, each journal has explanations of the articles written for the layperson. Plos is also launching journals for Computational Biology and Genetics.

The Public Library of Science is revolutionizing the way scientific results are reported to the public. In fact, it's so successful that other reputable journals are beginning to provide open access of some of their articles.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is one such journal that's beginning to follow suit:

www.pnas.org

Unfortunately, this scientific revolution has not received attention from major media outlets. Consequently few within the public realize that such information is being made available to them.

Take advantage of these resources. After all, you've paid for it!!!

Current Music Picks...

One thing I'd like to regularly exchange ideas about is music.

A great CD I picked up recently is "Funeral" by Arcade Fire.

In my best estimation, this band sounds like a more modern version of The Talking Heads... They were also recently interviewed on NPR. Well worth the purchase.

Also, check out Herbie Hancock -- The Blue Note Sixties Sessions 6-CD box set. This box set is great. In all reality, it's not a complete compilatiton of Hancock's work on Blue Note during the sixties. Within this set is only the work in which he headlined. His work as a sideman during these years is not included. Still, this box set is exceptional.