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Friday, September 04, 2009

Meatout Mondays - Every Week - Go Meatless on Monday

Meatout Mondays

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

No beef with Julia’s kitchen: Her home’s new owner lacks the bone appetite


No beef with Julia’s kitchen

Her home’s new owner lacks the bone appetite

Lisa Landsverk and her daughters Rachael (left) and Teymura are among the new inhabitants of Julia Child's former house.
Lisa Landsverk and her daughters Rachael (left) and Teymura are among the new inhabitants of Julia Child's former house.(Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)
By Billy Baker Globe Correspondent / August 31, 2009

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, USA -
They are known for their love of cats.  At least they had that much in common.
But Lisa Landsverk, the new owner of the grand Victorian home on Irving Street in Cambridge where Julia Child, the doyenne of la cuisine bourgeoise, lived, cooked, and warbled for 43 years, has brought a bit of her own personality to the place.

Take the painting of the cow.

“Nobody says when I grow up I want to be a hamburger,’’ the painting’s caption reads.
Yes, the matriarch of Child’s former kitchen is an animal-rights activist and a vegetarian. “It’s a bit ironic,’’ Landsverk said, in an understatement.

What’s more, Landsverk is not what you would call a foodie. She likes to make simple things for dinner: pasta, burritos, reservations. But in the month since Landsverk and her husband, Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman, moved into Child’s former home near the Harvard campus, they have found themselves the accidental caretakers of what has become a bit of a destination for food tourists.

Due to a recent movie about her life, “Julie & Julia,’’ everything Julia Child is hot. The film, based on a 2005 book by blogger Julie Powell about her attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s landmark “Mastering the Art of French Cooking’’ in a single year, has catapulted Child, who died in 2004, back into the spotlight.

Child’s 48-year-old book has shot to the top of the bestseller list.

With the Julia mania has come an odd sort of attention for Landsverk, a former lawyer, and her family.

There are the lurkers outside their windows, snapping pictures of the house; the person who left a stick of butter (Child’s favorite ingredient) on their fence post; and the reporter who knocked on their door to ask what it’s like to cook on the site of hallowed culinary ground.

“The truth is that we haven’t done much cooking since we moved into the place,’’ Landsverk said.

After a bit of hesitation, she agreed to allow the reporter in to change that.

The plan was simple: Make a couple of Child’s recipes and see how it feels. Landsverk added one caveat: Everything had to be vegan because she did not want to offend her animal-rights friends. So, no butter.

Landsverk chose ratatouille for an entrée - she liked Child’s assertion that the eggplant casserole “perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence’’ - and, for dessert, pêches cardinal, a compote of fresh peaches with raspberry purée.

Helping her were daughters Rachael Klarman, 20, a junior at the University of Virginia, and 8-year-old Teymura.

A son, 17, was off at Japanese camp, and her oldest daughter, 22, was still in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the family lived before the move.

Rachael Klarman admits she had never heard of the famous chef before the realtor touted the Child connection to the family.

But she has become quite enthusiastic about the former occupant, recently reading “Julie & Julia’’ and Child’s memoir, “My Life in France.’’

As she walked back from a supply run to Savenor’s Market on a sweltering afternoon last week - Savenor’s was a favorite of Child’s, and she carved her signature signoff, “Bon Appétit,’’ into the sidewalk outside - Rachael Klarman said she’s been inspired to do more cooking in the kitchen, so that Child “is not rolling over in her grave.’’

Child and her husband, Paul, bought the house in 1956 for $35,000 and moved in two years later.

Paul, an artist and foreign service officer, designed the kitchen to Julia’s strict specifications, including countertops that were 2 inches higher than normal to accommodate her 6-foot-2-inch frame.

The kitchen was styled along the lines of a workshop, with the pots and pans hung from pegboards around the room, favorite knives - she had 800 - on magnetic strips between the windows, and everyday utensils in jars above the Garland range.

The pale green space changed little in Child’s time, and was familiar to many from the three cooking shows she filmed there during the 1990s.

When Child moved out in 2001, her kitchen and its contents were donated to the Smithsonian, where they are now an exhibit.

The house went through down-to-the-studs renovation, and when Lisa Landsverk and her family bought the 6,000-square-foot home in February for a reported $3.7 million, the only sign of Child’s tenure was her wine cellar, with its simple pine racks and handwritten vintage labels written by her husband.

The current kitchen is modern and white with a few stainless-steel accents. The windows and doorways are in the same place as when Child lived there, but the room has been expanded; an elevator has been removed to create a sunroom with a small dining area.

Stylewise, about the only thing the kitchen shares with Child’s is that everything has a place; in the new kitchen, that place is out of sight. Everything is so neatly concealed that Rachael said it took them a while to find the silverware drawer (it was hidden inside a larger drawer on the kitchen island).

With the ingredients ready and the cookbook open, Lisa and Rachael began making their way through the ratatouille recipe. Immediately, they realized that this was not going to be a quick meal.

“That’s very specific,’’ Lisa Landsverk said as she read Child’s directions to cut the eggplant into 3/8-inch-thick slices.

“No, there’s more,’’ Rachael Klarman said as she kept reading. “She calls for chunks with three specific dimensions. That’s impressive.’’

“And she wants us to dry each slice with a towel!’’ her mother gasped with a smile on her face. “We’re going to be here all day.’’

As they made their way through the recipes, mother and daughter began to notice a curious aspect to their conversation. They never said “the recipe wants’’ or “the book says;’’ they said “she says mind the heat’’ and “she wants us to chill the purée.’’ In “Julie & Julia,’’ Powell describes feeling that Julia was by her side like “some great big good fairy.’’
Lisa Landsverk and her daughter weren’t quite as grandiose, but agreed on one thing: Julia Child had them engaged with their dinner.

More than two hours after the cooking began, the kitchen was a mess but the food was ready. Teymura, who is chatty and a bit sassy, tried to get out of eating the ratatouille (she’d been pining for pasta), but relented when she was allowed to use chopsticks. She took one bite and announced “It’s kind of good, but not that good.’’

Rachael Klarman and her mother were more hesitant in their assessment.

After a few bites, Rachael said, almost relieved, “It tastes fine.’’ Her mother was impressed by the medley of flavors, but criticized her own technique.

“I think I overcooked the eggplant,’’ she said. “I wasn’t minding my heat like she said.’’
Correction: Because of an editing error, a Page One story yesterday about the owner of Julia Child's house gave the incorrect last name for the owner's daughter. Her name is Rachael Klarman.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/08/31/new_occupants_get_cooking_in_julia_childs_former_house?mode=PF

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

PCRM Online, September 2009: Another Victory for Pigs in Canada; Celebrity Chefs Cook Vegan; Meet the Queen of Chimpanzees; and More

September 2009 Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine  
News and Campaign Updates
pigletAnother Victory for Pigs in Canada
Life continues to improve for pigs in Canada. In July, PCRM announced an Advanced Trauma Life Support win for pigs in Toronto. Now, the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine announced that it too will stop using live pigs in its program and exclusively use the TraumaMan System. Save Pigs in Tennessee >

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Marilu Henner‘Town Hall’ and Capitol Hill Ads Call for Healthy School Lunches
Health care was debated heatedly across the United States in August. But at PCRM’s celebrity-hosted "town hall" for healthy school lunches, the only raised voices were cheering suggestions for vegetarian school lunches. And on PCRM ads in Washington, D.C., a smiling 8-year-old girl asked a polite question of the current administration: “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?” Aug. 24 TV event >

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chimpanzeeA Royal Visit with Negra, Queen of the Chimpanzees
It’s a long journey from Africa to Cle Elum, Wash. It was certainly a grueling trip for Negra, a 36-year-old chimpanzee who had many traumatic experiences along the way. But in Cle Elum, she found a place that—in spirit—is close to home. Last month, at the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, PCRM scientists met Negra as they continued their observation of the long-lasting psychological damage to chimpanzees previously used in laboratories. Two years solitary confinement >

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Toni FioreCelebrity Chefs and New Classes Teach Plant-Based Diabetes Prevention
The new season of the TV show Top Chef just started and it’s packed with celebrity chefs. In the show’s challenges, chefs typically create high-fat, cholesterol-laden meals—like the ones that have contributed to America’s diabetes epidemic. But last month, PCRM presented its own challenge to celebrity chefs: Prepare delicious, plant-based meals that can prevent diabetes. Find a cooking class >

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William Morris, M.D.Longtime Army Doctor Asks Military to End Animal Trauma Training
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that using and killing animals in trauma training is cruel and archaic. But 20 years as an Army neurosurgeon and 15 years spent treating civilian trauma provides William Morris, M.D., a solid platform when he speaks out against the military’s use of live animals in combat trauma training courses. 9,000 goats and pigs killed >

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Stuart Jacobs Prize-Winning Food Service Workers Serve Veggie School Lunches
From the Golden Gate to the Peach State, school lunches are getting healthier. Cheeseburgers and chicken wings are giving way to fruits, vegetables, and low-fat vegetarian meals. As students prepare to head back to school, PCRM is honoring the winners of its 2009 Golden Carrot Awards for innovation in school food service. Who’s serving dhal-bhaat? >
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credit cardMake a Choice That Benefits Animals, PCRM, and You
PCRM is excited to announce a brand new way you can show your support for the work we do! When you apply for and use the new, free PCRM Platinum® Visa Rewards Card, the bank will donate $50 and a percentage of all your future purchases on the card to PCRM. Learn More >

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cells don’t like to be alone

Detached Early Cancer Cells May Die from Lack of Nourishment
Antioxidants Could Rescue Starving Tumors-to-be
http://focus.hms.harvard.edu/2009/082809/antioxidants.shtml

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Detached Early Cancer Cells May Die from Lack of Nourishment

Antioxidants Could Rescue Starving Tumors-to-be
Cells don’t like to be alone. In the early stages of tumor formation, a cell might be pushed out of its normal environment due to excessive growth. But a cell usually responds to this homeless state by dismantling its nucleus, packing up its DNA, and offering itself to be eaten by immune cells. Simply put, the homeless cell kills itself. This process, known as apoptosis, typically stops potential cancer cells before they have a chance to proliferate.
Joan Brugge
Photo by Liza Green, HMS Media Services
Joan Brugge and collaborators have identified metabolic defects with a lethal effect on cells that stray too far from their home environment. The defects might be a way for the body to stop potential tumor cells from proliferating.


Now, researchers from the lab of Joan Brugge, the Louise Foote Pfeiffer professor of cell biology and chair of that department, have discovered another mechanism that these precancerous, homeless cells use to commit suicide. By studying two different types of human breast epithelial cells, the researchers found that when separated from their natural environment, these cells lose their ability to harvest energy from their surroundings. Eventually, they starve.
“We originally thought that in order for cells to survive outside their normal environment, they would simply need to suppress apoptosis,” said Brugge, senior author on the paper, which appeared online Aug. 19 in Nature. “But our studies indicate that this activity is not sufficient to prevent the demise of homeless cells. Even if they escape apoptosis, these cells can’t transport enough glucose to sustain an energy supply.”
Surprisingly, metabolic function is restored if antioxidant activity is increased inside the cells, allowing them to use energy pathways that do not rely on glucose.
“It raises the interesting idea that antioxidants, which are typically thought to be protective because they prevent genomic damage, might be allowing these potentially dangerous cells to survive,” said first author Zachary Schafer, assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame and a former postdoc in Brugge’s lab.
“It raises the interesting idea that antioxidants, which are typically thought to be protective because they prevent genomic damage, might be allowing these potentially dangerous cells to survive.”
—Zachary Schafer
The authors caution against extrapolating too far from their data, which were based on cell culture. They also emphasize that the experiments were not designed to mimic the effect of dietary antioxidants. The researchers used two specific antioxidant compounds—chemically distinct from those found in food and supplements—only to understand how oxidants contribute to the metabolic defects.
“We think that genes with antioxidant activity play a much bigger role than antioxidant compounds administered from outside the body,” said Brugge.
Beyond Cell Suicide
The team had previously reported that when cells were endowed with a cancer-causing gene that prevents them from committing suicide, they still died when cut off from their extracellular environment. This puzzled the researchers since they had long thought that apoptosis was the only way the cells could die.
In the recent study, Schafer and colleagues took a closer look, measuring the levels of proteins and molecules associated with metabolic activity in the displaced, but apoptosis-resistant, cells. They found that the cells had become incapable of taking up glucose, their primary energy source. Under the microscope, the cells also displayed telltale signs of oxidative stress, a harmful accumulation of oxygen-derived molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS). The result was a halt in the production of ATP, the molecular lifeblood that transports energy in the cells. The unmoored cells were literally starving to death.
“The idea that a lack of extracellular matrix can prevent cells from accessing nutrients hasn’t been shown conclusively before,” said Schafer. “Loss of glucose transport, decreased ATP production, increased oxidative stress—all those things turn out to be interrelated.”
Tumor Metabolism
To figure out what was wrong, the researchers took a direct approach: they tried to fix it. Schafer engineered the homeless cells to express high levels of a gene, HER2, known to be hyperactive in many breast tumors. He also treated the cells with antioxidants in an attempt to relieve oxidative stress and help the cells survive.
Both strategies worked. The cells with the breast cancer gene regained glucose transport, preventing ROS accumulation, and recovered their ATP levels. The antioxidant-treated cells also survived, but by using fatty acids instead of glucose as an energy source.


10A
10A Trolox
Courtesy Zachary Schafer
In these microscope images, human mammary cells (blue) grow in clusters surrounded by a membrane of extracellular matrix (red), which usually keeps them alive. Normally (left), the cells in the middle of the cluster die due to lack of contact with the extracellular matrix, leaving an empty space. In cells treated with Trolox (right), an antioxidant derived from Vitamin E, cells separated from the extracellular matrix survive, filling up the middle of the cluster.

“Our results raise the possibility that antioxidant activity might allow early-stage tumor cells to survive where they otherwise would die from these metabolic defects,” said Schafer.
The researchers are currently planning to test the effects of antioxidant genes, some of which are abnormally regulated in human tumors, and a wider range of antioxidants in animal models. They also plan on characterizing the metabolic consequences of matrix detachment in more detail.
“Ultimately,” Brugge said, “we want to understand enough about the metabolism of tumor cells so that new types of drugs can be designed to target them.”
Students may contact Joan Brugge at joan_brugge@hms.harvard.edu for more information.
Conflict Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding Sources: The National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health; the authors are solely responsible for the content of this work.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

How many reputable ‘who's who' registries are there operating in the USA?

How many reputable ‘who's who' registries are there operating in the USA? One or two: Marquis and A&C Black?
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been e-mailed and phoned by yet another ‘who's who' registry seeking to include me among nearly a million other ‘high rollers’ – then to sell me the volume, along with a plaque.  I don’t think they really ‘hear’ me (in the sense of ‘hear with understanding’) that an ethical vegan does NOT want a leather-bound volume that includes those names in the registry.  Not I (if you didn't realize it, that question is merely rhetorical, with only a negative answer possible).

A Wikipedia article ‘Who's Who scam talks about this issue, but as someone included in Marquis’ Who’s Who, I puzzle how many reputable ‘who's who' registries are there operating in the USA?

A Who's Who scam is a fraudulent Who's Who biographical directory.[1]  While there are many legitimate Who's Who directories, some individuals have created Who's Who scams that involve the selling of "memberships" in Who's Who directories that are created online and through instant publishing services.[1]  These are essentially thinly veiled scams designed to get individuals to part with their money.
Often the companies that "own" these registries are recently incorporated and the few individuals listed in them are people who are having themselves listed as a marketing tactic.  That makes the publication in these directories a simple form of vanity publishing, with the listed persons often posting their listing on their own web sites.
Online blogs or forum posts that discuss these scams often have posts from people stating they have used the directory to make valuable business contacts.  However, these posts cannot be verified and are much like other online reviews that provide no verification of the consumer's or user's identity.
See also
References
  1. ^ a b What Price Fame? Be a Very Important Person - all it takes is money, David Vernon, The Skeptic, 2007, Vol. 27, No. 2, p. 16
External links
  • What with the Who's Who? Who would be so foolish as to pay for inclusion in a Who's Who book that no one reads?  CSO Online
  • Vanity Publishing, guide against fraud by Connecticut State Attorney General
  • Vanity Publishing, consumer protection fact sheet list by Wiscosin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Who's Who Scam, on Everything2
  • Who Are You? Why Are You Here?, a New York Times review on Marquis 2005, called it an "authoritative tool and valid portrait of [American] society".
    By WILLIAM L. HAMILTON
    Published: November 13, 2005
    Photos: TONY HAWK -- Professional skateboarder. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images); JOEL OSTEEN -- Televangelist. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Associated Press);
    KANYE WEST -- Producer, rapper. (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage.com);
    KEN JENNINGS -- ''Jeopardy'' champion. (Photo by Associated Press);
    EVA LONGORIA -- ''Desperate Housewife.'' (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images);
    (Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)(pg. 1);
    I'M IN THE BOOK -- In the 60th anniversary Who's Who in America, George W. Bush weighs in with one and a quarter column inches of biographical information. The Olsen twins, right (Mary-Kate, left, and Ashley), garner twice that much space. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images);
    (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images);
    (Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times);
    JUDGE AND JURY -- From left, Gene M. McGovern, Fred Marks, Kerry Morrison and Jon Gelberg of Marquis Who's Who in New Providence, N.J. (Photo by Marko Georgiev for The New York Times)(pg. 6)
THE 60th edition of Who's Who in America, that venerable guide to American achievement, was published last week. The familiar two-volume ''big red book,'' a librarian's Vanity Fair, recognizes 109,000 people and, by their inclusion, recommends them to posterity and to America's collective memory. Kind of like a magazine cover that stays on the stands forever.
But in the era of the Internet and Google, of reality television, gangsta rap stars, celebrity publicists, incarcerated domestic divas and the famous 15 minutes of fame (probably closer to 5 now), who is who?
''I think about this every day,'' said Jon Gelberg, managing director for special projects at Marquis Who's Who, the book's publisher. He was speaking at the company's offices in New Providence, N.J., where an editorial team of 70, including 12 researchers, make the call on who's notable and who's not. Talking about his work, Mr. Gelberg sometimes looked as stoical as Hercules.
Who's Who, traditionally a polite old-boys' club of state supreme court justices, clergymen, explorer/authors, botany professors and other conservatively distinguished academic, government, and professional figures, is now -- under a two-year-old management team that wants to recognize popular culture just as emphatically -- Who's In and Who's Out as well. The crowd squeezed into the latest edition is as much V.I.P. room as reference room. Think of going down in history as the ultimate afterparty.
Who's newly who for 2006? Kanye West, the hip-hop artist; Joel Osteen, the televangelist; Eva Longoria, the actress who plays Gabrielle Solis in ''Desperate Housewives''; Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak on the game show ''Jeopardy''; and Tony Hawk, the skateboarder. They take their places in American culture's carved stone with presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the entertainment elite and the titans of industry. Back after a one-year hiatus is Martha Stewart, whose stint in jail disqualified her in 2005.
Who isn't who yet? Alice Waters, the mother of new American cuisine. Who was who but isn't for 2006? Beck. Who isn't who, as in ''Who?'' Rod Strickland, the basketball player, and Linda Evans, a star of ''Dynasty,'' the popular 1980's evening soap opera.
And who will never be who? Victoria Gotti, the author, television personality and daughter of John Gotti. She is ineligible because of the Gotti family's associations with organized crime, what Marquis's editors term ''notorious'' or ''infamous'' achievement.
''My life is going to go on without it, believe me,'' Ms. Gotti said of a Who's Who citation, speaking by telephone from California.
Monica Lewinsky? Never had a chance.
But with the often upside-down nature of who is celebrated today, or why, occupational categories like organized crime are under review. Socialites, with a few exceptions, like the late, ubiquitous Nan Kempner, are kept out. Paris Hilton, the celebutante, was included last year, distinguished, Mr. Gelberg said, by her achievements in three industries: fashion, film and television.
''Popular culture has expanded and grown coarser, so there's no reason not to include Paris Hilton,'' said Matthew Boylan, a reference librarian at the Donnell Library Center of the New York Public Library. And librarians, to judge from several spoken to, are an egalitarian but tough crew when it comes to reference materials, exhibiting a protective ferocity that might impress the Gottis.
''Are we trying to make it more relevant? Absolutely,'' Mr. Gelberg said. ''Who are people talking about? Who is on magazine covers? People in the hip-hop world, X-Games types. We're adding them in greater numbers. This is a part of culture.''
Hard calls, like activists, are subject to debate. Cindy Sheehan, opposing the war in Iraq, is a Who by sheer volume of news coverage in the last year; Randall Terry, the anti-abortionist, is not, largely through oversight and not lack of newsworthiness, Mr. Gelberg said. Mr. Terry is being discussed for inclusion in 2007.
Part of the company's three-year plan to make Who's Who more relevant is to reflect the leadership among African-, Asian- and Hispanic-Americans. Brigida Benitez, a lawyer and president of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia, is one example. The guide is also applying a brisk sweep of the broom to names that have gathered dust, not laurels. For 2006, 37,000 names were dropped while 20,000 were added. Marquis Who's Who also maintains a database, available by subscription, of 1.2 million names, including those in the book, those dropped, those being considered and those of the deceased.
For those included, it is a brutal world of column inches: George W. Bush, one and a quarter; Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, two and a half between them; Stephen Hawking and Cher, one and three-quarters each; Madonna, two; Noam Chomsky, six.
Though entertainers and other well-publicized figures are not new to Who's Who, which first appeared in 1898, its acceptance of popular culture has evolved. Professional athletes, who were considered laborers, were excluded until 1927, when Bill Tilden, the tennis star and social celebrity, was admitted. When Mae West was denied entrance to the big red book, she told reporters that its editors would not be included in her little black book. In the 1968-'69 edition of Who's Who, John Lennon is present but Mick Jagger is not, reflecting parental attitudes toward the Beatles and the Rolling Stones more than professional objectivity.
If Who's Who in America has created, by mosaic, a portrait of America and its tectonic shifts, its latest edition, with its new recognition of popular culture, is a picture that some might find startling to see -- like an unintended look in the mirror. Who's Who is a dry reminder that celebrity for celebrity's sake is now a seasoned American industry as powerful and internationally recognized as steel once was, driven by CD's, movies, fragrances, tabloid romances and the weightless gravitas of pure appearance.
''Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera -- they have enormous staying power,'' said Kerry Morrison, Marquis's managing research editor. ''Compared with Debbie Gibson?'' Ouch. Ms. Gibson, whom Ms. Morrison characterized as a ''flash in the pan'' -- Who's Who's worst egg-on-the-face nightmare -- was never in the book or the database.
At greatest issue at Marquis is whether Who's Who in America itself is still ''Who.'' With the information highway now an international Interstate, is a 5,919-page, $749 reference book an authoritative tool and valid portrait of society, or a dinosaur from the print age?
''It had a great name, but the product needed great improvement,'' said James A. Finkelstein, who with Wilbur L. Ross Jr. bought Marquis Who's Who in 2003. Appearing every other year until 1992, it is now an annual publication. People will fall in and out of the print edition more quickly than they have in the past, to make it more reflexive as a reference work, Mr. Finkelstein said. The company publishes 16 Who's Who titles, including volumes devoted to American women and to those in education, which are purchased primarily by libraries. A total of 25,000 copies have been sold for shipment for 2006.
How does a who become a Who? There are 73 categories and 800 occupations that constitute guidelines for admission, said Fred Marks, senior managing director. To shake out nominees, his staff reviews lists like the Forbes Celebrity 100 and the Fortune 500, as well as lists specific to various industries and professions. Researchers also compile names from general interest magazines like Time and special interest magazines like The American Lawyer, looking for new candidates or verifying that people included in the last edition are still Who.
''The fundamental standards here are position and accomplishment,'' said Gene M. McGovern, Marquis's chief executive. ''The book fills up fast -- Pulitzers, the Fortune 1,000, Congress.''
Ms. Morrison added, ''With an Oscar, you could stay in until you're dead.''
In 2006, 26 percent of those included are women, up from 14 percent 10 years ago.
Those selected are sketched biographically, then contacted for additional information or asked to fill out a form. Finished entries are not uniformly fact-checked.
''How far do they go to verify the information?'' asked Susan Newson, head of reference at the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island. ''That's the question. You have to assume those selected will not fudge the information or aggrandize themselves, because the list is fairly distinguished.''
Speaking for librarians, Ms. Newson added, ''We're a little suspicious, but on lesser-known people, we have nothing else.'' Robert Homer Simpson, for example, the first meteorologist to fly over a hurricane, in 1947, can still be found in Who's Who.
For many of those whose fame is in full bloom, like the hip-hop star Missy Elliott, being included in the book is not just another piece of publicity. She entered the book last year. ''I'm more than happy to be in company with Oprah and Hillary Clinton,'' she said on Thursday in a telephone interview. ''Looking at those accomplishments, it makes mine look very small. It makes you sit back.''
Ms. Elliott added: ''Reporters always ask me, 'What are the highlights of my career?' This would definitely be a first.''
This writing is fun reading and will give you a quick look at the issue, though it might not be trhorough or com,prehensive.  But in this world in which accomplishment takes time, who has time to be included.  What’s fame?  It’s independent of anyone’s recognition of the fame.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Beware Who's Who Schemes

I've been planning on doing this post for some time, but putting it off because it involved a lot of research. What tipped me over the line? The other day my husband, Rob, got a solicitation from Cambridge Who's Who.

"It is my pleasure," the letter from Editor in Chief Jennifer A. Gonzalez begins, "to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into [sic] the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals "Honors Edition" of the Registry." This is a major honor, Jen explains, because the Registry will include biographies of "our country's most accomplished professionals," many of whom regard inclusion as "the single highest mark of achievement." There's an application form that Rob can fill out and send back if he's the snail mail type, or if he's electronically inclined he can apply online. Just in case it occurs to him to wonder whether there's a catch, Jen hastens to reassure him: "There is no cost to be included in the Registry."

Rob lives with me (and Writer Beware), so the first words out of his mouth were "This is a scam, right?" Unfortunately, many people are much less suspicious.

There are legitimate Who's Who publishers--A & C Black in the UK, Marquis in the USA. They research the people they include, and while they'd love it if you bought the book, that's not the main reason for their existence. Cambridge and its ilk, on the other hand, are all about the hard sell. Similar to the vanity poetry anthologizers, Who's Who schemes lure customers by presenting themselves as a no-cost opportunity, but make their money by persuading people to buy books and/or memberships--often at costs exceeding $1,000. They claim to be selective, but in reality they harvest names just as junk mailers or spammers do, randomly and without regard to credentials--which means that their networking value, often touted to justify the enormous membership or purchase fee, is negligible. The bigger ones attempt to tailor their solicitations--Rob is in insurance, so he got the Executives and Professionals letter. A woman might get an invitation to the Executive and Professional Women registry. There's a solicitation for people in education. There's one for scientists. There's one for healthcare professionals. Here's an especially disgusting one targeted to people with religious affiliations.

The Who's Who gambit is a long-running, recognized telephone sales scheme about which there are a number of official warnings. There's a dizzying number of different Whos--many of which, I would guess, are run by the same people, though they're pretty good at making themselves seem separate. Here are just a few examples:

- United Who's Who (which has an unsatisfactory record with the Florida BBB for failing to respond to complaints)
- International Who's Who Historical Society (ditto)
- American Who's Who Association, which has a number of different schemes
- Premier Who's Who (formerly Prestige Who's Who, also d/b/a America's Who's Who)
- Emerald Who's Who
- Madison Who's Who (this one also has an unsatisfactory BBB record)
- Global Register's Who's Who (formerly National Register's Who's Who).

Frequently, the Whos are short-lived. Doctors' Who's Who and Nationwide Who's Who are now only Internet memories, but Google either of them and, as with the rest, you'll see people who list them as a professional credential. Ditto for Enterprise Who's Who--which suggests one reason for the schemes' short shelf life in the legacy of complaints it has left behind.

Back to Cambridge Who's Who. It's half of a two-headed hydra made up of Cambridge Who's Who (which previously did business as Manchester Who's Who and Empire Who's Who--according to a press release on Cambridge's website, these two have "merged" to become Cambridge) and Metropolitan Who's Who. Cambridge and Metropolitan do business separately, and have different websites, URL registry information, and mailing addresses. But their logo designs and their solicitation letters are identical (compare Manchester-now-Cambridge's letter with Metropolitan's)--as are their hard-sell telephone tactics.

People who answer the solicitations from Cambridge and Metropolitan report very similar experiences. (These links represent a fraction of the online discussions and complaints about Cambridge in particular.) A representative of the company phones them, congratulates them on the honor of their inclusion in the registry database, and conducts a lengthy interview, with many questions about careers, professional accomplishments, etc. Once the victim has been softened up by this process, the phone solicitor lowers the boom. The victim--who, remember, is under the impression from the initial solicitation letter that no costs are involved--is told that there are two levels of membership--a cheaper junior membership (currently close to $800) and a more expensive lifetime membership (currently nearly $1,000). This money, the victim is assured, isn't for inclusion in the database; it's for access to the database--which surely they're going to want to have, since the registry is a fantastic networking opportunity. To sweeten the deal, there are extras--gift certificates, airline ticket vouchers, a handsome award certificate, a media kit. If the victim expresses doubt about the cost, the solicitor says something like "You know what? Because I really don't want you to miss out on this fabulous opportunity, I'm going to offer you a lower rate! You'll only have to pay what a charity organization pays!" More hard sell tactics ensue. If the victim continues to resist, the solicitor hangs up on him or her--just like those magazine-sales scams where the people rudely blow you off the instant they realize you aren't going to fall for their line of bullshit.

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that Cambridge and one of its predecessors, Empire, have poor records with the Better Business Bureau (Manchester has no separate record). Empire's BBB report shows 57 complaints over the past 36 months, most involving (surprise, surprise) selling and refund practices. Cambridge's BBB report shows a stunning 150 complaints over the past 36 months, again involving selling and refund practices, and also billing and credit disputes. The bulk of the complaints--123 out of 150--have been made in the past 12 months.

Metropolitan's BBB report is currently being updated. When I viewed it in February (when I first began thinking about doing this post), it cited complaint patterns similar to Cambridge's. Some of the content of that report is reproduced by blogger T.J. at his dogscatskidslife blog.

Another thing Cambridge and Metropolitan share: a very poor reaction to criticism. The hydra really, really doesn't like it when people say bad things about it. When the Southern Conservative blog featured a satirical post about a solicitation letter from Metropolitan Who's Who, a threat of legal action quickly followed from one Cyndi Jeffers of Metropolitan (she also contacted people at the blogger's job). Blogger Shawn Olsen, whose description of his experience with Manchester Who's Who is linked in above, is being pursued by a lawyer hired by Manchester/Cambridge, who threatens a defamation lawsuit and demands $7 million in compensatory and punitive damages. These two bloggers appear not to be the only ones who've experienced this kind of harassment.

So here's my long-distance gift to all of you: a little dose of the good ol' Writer Beware suspicion that Rob has absorbed by proximity. "Money flows to the writer" is a good maxim to live by--but in cases of unexpected invitations, so is what Groucho Marx said: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." If you hear from a Who--and don't assume it will be one of those I've highlighted in this post, because I wouldn't be surprised if Cambridge, at least, were thinking it might be time for a name change--don't hesitate. Toss the letter straight into the recycling bin. That is, unless you want to make fun of it on your blog.

  • Who's Who Scam and Vanity

Men with hypertension may effectively reduce that hypertension with whole grains and bran

Whole grains, bran may fight hypertension in men
U. S. News & World Report as reported by HealthDay News, August 28, 2009 – By Steven Reinberg
Harvard researchers that found that whole grain foods and foods high in bran bring a boost to heart health. Although the study focused on men, data from the Women's Health Study is consistent with the results. Lead researcher Dr. Alan J. Flint, Harvard School of Public Health research scientist and project director of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, comments.
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/08/28/whole-grains-bran-may-fight-hypertension-in-men.html

HealthDay

Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men

New findings replicate similar data for women, experts say

Posted August 28, 2009
By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Men, want to keep high blood pressure at bay? Try reaching for whole grains.
That's the message from a Harvard study that found that whole grain foods and foods high in bran bring a boost to heart health. Although this study is among men, data from the Women's Health Study found similar results, the researchers say.

"Whole grains as a part of a prudent, balanced diet may help promote cardiovascular health," said lead researcher Dr. Alan J. Flint, project director at Harvard School of Public Health of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, on which the new analysis was based. "Higher intake of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of hypertension in our cohort of over 31,000 men," Flint said.
The report is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For the study, Flint's team collected data on 31,684 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. When these men were enrolled in the study, none had high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease or had had a stroke.
During 18 years of follow-up, over 9,200 men developed high blood pressure. The researchers found that men who ate the highest amount of whole grains were 19 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure compared with men who ate the least amount of whole grains.
In addition, men who ate the most bran reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure by 15 percent compared with men who ate the least bran, the study found.
Flint noted that these findings remained even after adjusting their data for other healthy lifestyle and diet factors. "When the associations persist despite these adjustments, as in the current analysis, it supports the conclusion that it is not due to these other factors," he said.
There have been several suggestions as to why whole grains seem to have an effect on blood pressure. These include improved insulin sensitivity, reduced food intake, lower blood sugar, better control of high blood pressure and less need for blood pressure medications, the researchers noted.
The authors say the findings could help in evaluating diet guidelines to help lower blood pressure.
Connecticut-based nutritionist Samantha Heller agreed that whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet.
"Whole grains have nutrients and antioxidants that are important for good health and they help manage insulin response," Heller said. "People who eat whole grains seem to have lower incidents of diseases like diabetes," she said.
Since whole grains also help manage weight, they seem to reduce the risk of heart disease, she said.
However, Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, the Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine doesn't think this finding has any implications for dietary guidelines.
"This epidemiologic study is an interesting academic study but lacks any policy implications," Krumholz said. "We do not know whether enriching your diet with fiber will have any benefit on the development of hypertension," he said.
More information
For more information on a healthy diet, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

Quite a gift of candor to global health and human rights

China Admits to Organ Harvesting

Published August 29, 2009 @ 08:04PM PT

(photo credit: Daquelle manera)

The China Daily, a government-controlled Chinese newspaper, admitted Wednesday that organ donation in the country was heavily dependent on executed prisoners. This is the first government admission of the link between executions and organ donations.


They made the admission in an article published on August 26 that focused on China's new Red Cross-run national organ donation system. It stated that "China launched a national organ donation system yesterday in a bid to gradually shake off its long-time dependence on executed prisoners as a major source of organs for transplants and as part of efforts to crack down on organ trafficking."


I am stunned. This was the stuff of shady rumors and hand-letters signs carried by crackpots. I can't believe that the Chinese government is really admitting this, and I can't believe there hasn't been more outcry from the global community. It's a very canny move by the government of China, I guess. Deny everything until you have a system in place to fix things. Then what can anyone do? You're already trying to fix it. As an added bonus, if the Chinese population doesn't start singing up for voluntary organization donation, then the government can blame the people when they go back to using prisoner donations.


The article does not address some of the darker claims made about Chinese organ harvesting. The worst I have heard is that the Chinese governments advertises to "organ tourists" about clean-living Falun Gong prisoners, and then executes condemned prisoners once their organs are sold. This also leads to an implication that the government of China has an incentive to arrest, condemn, and execute constant flow of prisoners.  (And if you think that sounds paranoid, think how crazy the organ harvesting sounded until the government of China admitted it was true.)


I don't think those darker fears are irrational. If a Chinese government mouthpiece is admitting that "Some just ignore legal procedures regarding organ donations from executed prisoners and make a fat profit," and "organ middlemen have been faking documents in order to make a person who is desperately in need of money be considered ‘emotionally connected' to the recipients," you have to wonder what they're not saying.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Believing Untruths - The Dangerous Lack of Critical Thinking

Sharon Begley has written an important essay in Newsweek, “Lies of Mass Destruction,” that every educator should read. Begley explores the strange, but ubiquitous, tendency of people to believe untruths even when there is massive evidence to contradict them. Whether it’s the persistent belief among many that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or the current beliefs about “death panels” (among other misinformation) in the pending health care reform proposals, we humans consistently believe things that simply are not true.

At the risk of raising the ire of my readers who believe in many unsupported things (and I’m not naming any of these for fear of inciting that ire), I can only say that Begley has just touched the tip of the iceberg. We believe in countless unfounded, unproven, even preposterous ideas and religious dogmas (not to mention what might make for good scifi or fairy tales), and many of us don’t even flinch when we present these unfounded beliefs as truth and seek to proselytize.

One of my favorite bumper stickers reads: “Don’t let your mind be so open your brain falls out.” I worry that between the poles of open-mindedness and close-mindedness (often resulting in the same sorts of beliefs in untruths), there lies a vast arena that we are failing to cultivate: critical thinking.

Critical thinking was a hot button subject in the 90s, and every school was eager to ensure it was teaching this skill. Now it’s been relegated by many “back to basics” proponents as soft, liberal, untestable and far less important that passing those standardized tests.

But it is dangerous to neglect critical thinking. An inability to access information critically, especially in an Internet age of massive information and misinformation, leads to an inability to participate honestly and realistically in a democracy.

In the 20th century, a few dystopian novels, such as Brave New World and 1984, exposed the danger of mass thought. Ironically, there are plenty of people who believe silly things who consider themselves disciples of such books, whether on the left or the right. They may believe in unfounded conspiracies or false information, perceiving themselves as the true critical thinkers and the rest of us as duped.

The only solution I see to this pervasive tendency among people is to commit fully and wholeheartedly to cultivating critical thinking and inculcating healthy skepticism among youth. Yes, it means they may question their parents beliefs. Yes, it means they may question their teachers. Yes, it means they may question entrenched institutions and systems. It also means they may question peer pressure, advertisers’ unhealthy manipulations, and the health value of their cafeteria food (I just had to throw that in).

If we teach the next generation to be deep and hard-working thinkers, we will give them perhaps the most important skill people need to create healthy, productive, fair and just societies and systems.

~ Zoe Weil

Image courtesy of rossgram via Creative Commons.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why doctors should inform their patients where the medicines comes from

My many readers will know - from my many blogs (one Yahoo! 360 blog, recently closed by Yahoo! - had 1.3 million readers) that (a) I am NOT A FAN OF NOMINAL RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION - (b) nor am I supportive of arbitrary defections of any kind to lower moral standards.

An infrequently recurring question on vegetarian medical discussion lists in including those on topical medical concerns, where some clinicians and medical trained professionals are signed up, is animal ingredients in common medications. Some great servants of the vegetarians community like the Michaels - Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Michael Klaper, have tried to help us steer clear of common over-the-counter preparations with animal ingredients, as have some pro-animal organizations (not only PETA, but others, too). You'll noted that, to the discredit of both vegetarians and presumptive vegetarians who are clinicians who ought to know the products AND our ethical and moral scruples about animal byproducts, many clinicians - including nominal Hindus, nominal Jains, nominal Adventists, and others - have failed to engage in pro-active HELP and service to the vegetarian communities, though they MAY be uniquely qualified to do so. Is it laziness or a misshapen sense that their NEW 'higher calling' is professional loyalty, a a jingoistic chauvinism to their professional colleagues, even when the profession is doing the wrong thing.


Let's get one thing clear: NO product of ANY kind should have ANY kind of animal ingredient or byproduct in it.

Therefore, no MEDICAL product of ANY kind should have ANY kind of animal ingredient or byproduct in it.

There's wide-ranging ignorance of this moral truth, but medical and health professionals who are NOT ignorant have even less to say in their defense when they err than have those whose moral laziness merely REFLECTS the social backgrounds from which they come.


In a column in the New York Times this week, Randy Cohen fields a question from an anaesthetist.

Should the doctor ask a devoutly religious patient whether he minds that his anticoagulant (heparin) is derived from pigs?

In his reply, Randy Cohen suggests that the doctrine of informed consent requires the doctor to consider the non-medical preferences of the patient and to make sure Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians (like us) know where medicine to be used in their treatment is coming from.

That's a second best (or third best, or not good) standard at best, but that's what Randy Cohen offers. It's a standard that's been around, has been widely accepted by medical ethicists and others in our culture, and seems to work with little additional thought. After all, clinicians should have a laboratory 'sense of things' that would include routinely understanding the chemical nature of stuffs, stuffs used in clinical treatment.

Are you with us so far? Good!

So Randy Cohen, in his New York Times article a week or so ago, suggests that the doctor's role includes a duty to provide whatever information patients need in order to make decisions about, decide, and effectively manage or control their care. But some doubt that it is a doctor's responsibilityto take into account what they call "preferences" (because they don't clearly understand the moral status of animals d they dismissive discount or deny their personhood.

These deniers claim that the doctors' role is too greatly extended.

:

"Imagine a vegan who takes particular exception to drugs that have been tested in higher order primates. Is the doctor expected to ask about all possible preferences and provide corresponding advice about treatments that conform to these? If so, this seems to be unreasonably demanding."

Briton Wikinson goes on to distinguish what he terms "the normative force of different claims about information-giving" (in other words, different nuances have different moral claims and intellectual legitimacy):

"There is a difference between

1. what would be good for the doctor to do, and
2. what we should expect the doctor to do, and
3. what we should sanction the doctor if they don't do?

If your doctor knows that you are a devout religious adherent, and that you may have an objection to a medical product that they know contains animal products, the doctor should inform you that the drug she is about to prescribe is derived from pigs. It would be good for them do so (level 1 above)."

So far, so good.

"And if you ask your doctor - does this drug contain animal products then the doctor should (stronger - probably level 2, maybe 3) find out about the drug and let you know."

Here's where we can take issue:

"Whether we should expect them (2) if you haven't asked or sanction them (3) if they didn't tell you is less clear to me.

We might also note that there is another side to responsibility when it comes to personal preferences for different treatments. If your preference is idiosyncratic or unusual you, the patient, probably have a responsibility to find out which potential treatments may contain animal products, as well as to let your doctor know that you really don't want animal products (or blood products etc). On the other hand if the preference is very common within the population perhaps the onus should be on the doctor."

Finally, Wilkinson quibbles further:

"As for the relevance of all of this for orthodox judaism, Randy Cohen notes that since Heparin is administered subcutaneously rather than orally it is apparently not proscribed."

Thinking here of being carried away kicking and screaming while refusing ill-intentioned treatment, I rephrase German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller just a little:

First they came for the Muslims, but I wasn't a Muslim...

Then they came for the Orthodox Jews, but I wasn't an Orthodox Jew...

Then they can for the ethical vegans, and I wasn't an ethical vegan...

Then they came for me, kicking and screaming (and what did they want to do surreptitiously to MY body, about which I would object?)...

Let's put it this way:

Ethicists, particularly bioethicists should be thankful (or, if they don't believe in thankfulness, count themselves fortunate) to HAVE observant Muslims, Orthodox Jews, careful SDAs, self-caring body-owning feminists, and us ethical vegans BECAUSE we help to clarify the case that humans DO object to anyone's surreptitiously sneaking objectionable methods into their treatment and materials and substances into our bodies - in the same way we object to the USDA's approval of GMOs, irradiation, chemicalized agriculture, and more.

We should be THANKFUL that the woman's movement in the West and around the world has joined this chorus of these serious moral objections, and we should WELCOME American Republicanswho are yelling at the top of their lungs:

"Just one moment! What's going to be IN this treatment? What's going to be IN this health care program?"

We psychophysical unities of every stripe, brand, variety, background, persuasion, and pattern of human dignity demand no less than a transparent and open discussion of all these issues, even if it means that some well-intentioned measures can't be ramrodding into law quite so quickly.

Those who KNOW there is objection should be especially eager to fund research into NON-objectionable methods of caring for and preserving human health and for restoring it when illness and disease emerge (and for reducing and eliminating pain and providing proper care and treatment when that's the limit of suitable medical intervention).

We all know that the status quo in healthcare is not good enough, but it's more than access to currently-available treatments and their funding that's a mess. What is also all messed up is the WAY our society thinks about health and healthcare. I can give Ted Kennedy credit for noting that we ought to be paying doctors for keeping patients well, but I only puzzle whether or not we have trained these physicians to KEEP people well (when so much emphasis is placed on listening to complaints and treating post-diagnosisconditions.

Why not listyen to us? Of coruse, they ARE listening to us, and if it flies and flies far, they can claim it as their own.

And who should we be to com,plain if they DO develop treatment modalities that are agree of animal exploitation and abuse, focus first on primary prevention, emphasize a strong role for individual responsibility for health andsocial support for enabling that personal responsibility (safe and suitable exercise facilities in all workplace regions and residential areas, designing urban and suburban areas for exercise, and eliminating all subsidies for animal agriculture and making fresh produce afforcable and safe; shifting emphasis from high tech medicine to wards the low-hanging fruit of primary prevention, etc.). After all, what does it mean sociologically to be a servant of the greater public good, the good of all society? It means to serve wisely and effectively; it does NOT mean taking the credit. In the long run, the HEALTH of the people is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the healthcare delivery of the people UNLESS that healthcare delivery PREVENTS the problems in the first place.

It is BETTER to have NOT suffered at all than to have suffered ravaging illness and disease, then, after costly treatment funded socially, to have recuperated (at least temporarily). Treatment costs money directly AND in lost productivity AND in lost happiness AND in suffering AND in grief for significant others and workplace colleagues. Being HEALTHY IS a savings. That's "IN THE NATURE OF THINGS" for all of us.

If you're looking for healthcare delivery savings, it's in keeping people well; that's why we're shifting to the IDEA of paying healthcare providers differently: paying healthcare systems (not just the doctors) for keeping people well.

In the search for cost savings, Peter Orszag should be exploring primary prevention. Shouldn't we all?

But don't put those animal ingredients in MY treatment protocols (and if we're well, we're less at risk for the medical violation of our bodies).

And the lowest common denominator, and thus the cheapest path for pharmaceutical companies, is to make ALL medicaments FREE of all animal ingredients and byproducts.

The ethicist (note point 3 above) told us that those who object the most should object the loudest because they're the ones who are hardest for the dulled mainstream to hear. We need to make OUR cases that we want an ethical and above-board system of providing health services to our species that don't violate the inherent rights of persons - nonhuman AND human.

And it's better to proactively make the case early than to resort to attorneys 'post-diagnosis' (after our bodies - and bodily rights - have been violated).