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Topics - Ageless the Drifter

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The Lord's House / Do you guys remember renic
« on: June 27, 2015, 04:00:32 AM »
He and I were friends

I miss him

Spamalot / eggroll
« on: June 25, 2015, 03:19:00 PM »

Spamalot / I finally caved
« on: June 19, 2015, 07:22:39 PM »
And switched to a light-colored board theme. Can't read a fucking thing on my phone outside a pitch black room otherwise.



This is awesome

Google created a feedback loop in its image recognition software to see what it would conjure up from white noise

In the latest step towards transplantable bioengineered parts, researchers have built rat forelimb tissue – complete with working blood vessels and muscle fibers – in the lab. After they transplanted the biolimb into a recipient rat, the blood vessels filled with circulating blood, and the muscles even flexed the rat’s wrists and the joints in its paws.

For people who have lost a limb, transplants could help to improve the quality of life. But this also means having to take immunosuppressant drugs so that their bodies don’t attack the donated parts. That’s why a lot research has focused on using the patients’ own stem cells to regenerate their own replacement tissues, but what’s been missing so far is the scaffold (or matrix) to provide shape and support for growing cells as they become the complex tissues that make up a limb.

So, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital’s Harald Ott tried stripping away cells from an existing rat forelimb and then repopulating the remaining matrix with progenitor cells. This decellularization technique has previously been used to build bioartificial organs like kidneys, livers, hearts, and lungs in animals, but engineering tissues for a bioartifical limb is a different kind of task.

“The composite nature of our limbs makes building a functional biological replacement particularly challenging,” Ott explains in a news release. “Limbs contain muscles, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and nerves – each of which has to be rebuilt and requires a specific supporting structure called the matrix.”

First, they used a detergent to strip all the cellular material from forelimbs taken off deceased rats, but they made sure to keep the primary vasculature and nerve matrix. They spent a week removing all the cellular debris. Meanwhile, muscle and blood vessel progenitor cells were cultured separately. When the forelimb matrix was cell-free, the team suspended it in a bioreactor that provides a nutrient solution and electrical stimulation to promote growth (pictured to the right).

Vascular cells were injected into the limb’s main artery to regenerate veins and arteries, while muscle cells were injected directly into sheaths within the matrix that help define each muscle (pictured above). Two to three weeks later, when the forelimb was taken out of the bioreactor, the team looked for the presence of vascular cells along the blood vessel walls and muscle cells properly aligned throughout the muscle matrix.

To see if the new limb was functional, they applied electrical stimulation to the muscle fibers, which contracted with a strength that’s 80 percent of what you’d expect from a newborn rat. After the limb was transplanted into recipient rats, the vascular system quickly filled with blood that continued to circulate. With a bit of stimulation, the muscles within the graft flexed the rats’ wrists and the digital joints of the rats’ paws.

Next up, regrowing nerves! The work appears in the latest issue of Biomaterials.

General Discussion / recourse against shitty amazon vendors?
« on: May 28, 2015, 12:57:16 PM »
the charger that came with my surface barely stays connected to the unit. I can get it to charge if I play with it for 5 minutes and then don't move it until it's done charging.

I filed a claim with the vendor and told them the price of a new charger ($75) from microsoft. They pulled up the cheapest offbrand alternative on amazon and told me they'd send me that amount ($14). Problem with that is that the top comment on that product says it overheated the first night and nearly burned the owner's house down and nearly one-third of its reviews are one star and say it lasted less than two months (or worse). I told them I paid them for a 'very good' condition microsoft charger and if they don't wanna spring for a new one they can at least refund me enough to get another used, very good, non-off-brand one.

What do I do if threy dig in their heels, though? Do I have any leverage here besides a scathing review?

What do I do if they dig in their heels

The Beautiful Mind guy. You can google it

Adam Curtis made him look like an asshole in that one documentary, and his most prominent contributions were in Why-We-Can't-Have-Nice-Things Theory (aka Game Theory), but still a bummer.

See title. The prefecture (analogous to a US state, or very large county) is Yamagata

But, to be fair, between the two prefectures, the straddle the entire island from coast to coast. So I could be on the west coast (while Fukushima is on the east coast) and that would probably be the safest place possible. At minimum, I'd be about 2 hours away from the reactor in the center of the big island.

I think they picked the prefecture on the basis of its similarity to Florida (humid and full of old people), which is a truly comically horrible misplaced kindness.

It does seem super rural, though, so I'm actually pretty into that. And it looks pretty in pictures.

Separately, not combined. And "religiously unaffiliated" includes but is not limited to atheists and agnostics (who, together, comprise only 31% of the figure.

Not Now
Acts of Faith
Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey May 12 at 12:20 AM

The Memorial Peace Cross is a well-known landmark in Bladensburg, Md. (Mark Gail for The Washington Post)

Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

“It’s remarkably widespread,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research for the Pew Research Center. “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.”

At the same time, the share of those who are not affiliated with a religion has jumped from 16 percent to about 23 percent in the same time period. The trend follows a pattern found earlier in the American Religious Identification Survey, which found that in 1990, 86 percent of American adults identified as Christians, compared with 76 percent in 2008.

Here are three key takeaways from Pew’s new survey.

1. Millennials are growing even less affiliated with religion as they get older

The older generation of millennials (those who were born from 1981 to 1989) are becoming even less affiliated with religion than they were about a decade ago, the survey suggests. In 2007, when the Pew Research Center did their last Religious Landscape Survey and these adults were just entering adulthood, 25 percent of them did not affiliate with a religion, but this grew to 34 percent in the latest survey.

The trends among the aging millennials is especially significant, said Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. In 2010, 13 percent of baby boomers were religiously unaffiliated as they were entering retirement, the same percentage in 1972.

“Some have asked, ‘Might they become more religiously affiliated as they get older?’ There’s nothing in this data to suggest that’s what’s happening,” he said. Millennials get married later than older generations, but they are not necessarily more likely to become religiously affiliated, he said.

2. There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans

The numbers of Catholics and Protestants have each shrunk between three and five percentage points since 2007. The evangelical share of the American population has dropped by one percentage point since 2007.

There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans (23 percent) than Catholics (21 percent) and mainline Protestants (15 percent). “That’s a striking and important note,” Smith said.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.32.57 PM

The groups experience their losses through what’s called “religious switching,” when someone switches from one faith to another. Thirteen percent of Americans were raised Catholic but are no longer Catholic, compared with just 2 percent of Americans who are converts to Catholicism.

“That means that there are more than six former Catholics for every convert to Catholicism,” Smith said. “There’s no other group in the survey that has that ratio of loss due to religious switching.”

There are 3 million fewer Catholics today than there were in 2007. While the percentage of Catholics in the United States has remained relatively steady, Smith said we might be observing the beginning of the decline of the Catholic share of the population.

Pew estimates there are about 5 million fewer mainline Protestants than there were in 2007. About 10 percent of the U.S. population say they were raised in the mainline Protestant tradition, while 6 percent have converted to mainline Protestantism.

Evangelical Protestants have experienced less decline, due to their net positive retention rate. For every person who has left evangelical Protestantism after growing up, 1.2 have switched to join an evangelical denomination.

3. Those who are unaffiliated are becoming more secular

The “nones,” or religiously unaffiliated, include atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe in “nothing in particular.” Of those who are unaffiliated, 31 percent describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up six points from 2007.

“What we’re seeing now is that the share of people who say religion is important to them is declining,” Smith said. “The religiously unaffiliated are not just growing, but as they grow, they are becoming more secular.”

And people in older generations are increasingly disavowing organized religion. Among baby boomers, 17 percent identify as a religious “none,” up from 14 percent in 2007.

“There’s a continuing religious disaffiliation among older cohorts. That is really striking,” Smith said. “I continue to be struck by the pace at which the unaffiliated are growing.”

White Americans (24 percent) are more likely to say they have no religion, compared with 20 percent of Hispanic Americans and 18 percent of black Americans. The retention rates of the “nones” who say they were raised as religiously affiliated has grown by seven points since 2007 to 53 percent.

The Pew survey was conducted between June and September of 2014.


Elon Musk Debuts the Tesla Powerwall

Spamalot / All TZT's young people
« on: May 01, 2015, 03:57:15 AM »
live in the EST and are in bed by the time I start posting


In the clearest example yet of the stunning hubris of American conservative movement, a think tank backed by the Koch brothers says it will send a group of right-wing “scientists” (let’s use that term loosely here) to convince Pope Francis that his stance on climate change (i.e. that it exists and it is deeply troubling) is both scientifically wrong, but also biblically so.

You read that right: A group of wealthy energy industry businessmen think they can preach the gospel of climate denialism to the pope. This should be fun to watch.

The pope caught the ire of the libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute when the Vatican announced that he would be holding meetings with United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and other experts to discuss what policymakers and religious leaders can do to better combat the worst effects of climate change. Heartland Institute’s subsequent freak out was captured in the hurriedly released statement announcing they would be sending their own experts to the meeting to intervene.

    The Vatican’s summit features two men – Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs – who refuse to acknowledge the abundant data showing human greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a climate crisis and there is no need for a radical reordering of global economies that will cause massive reductions in human freedom and prosperity.

They definitely wouldn’t like a “radical reordering of global economies” because the current status quo suits their backers – billionaire chemical magnates and potential Disney villains Charles and David Koch – just fine.

The group alleges that the pope is being “misled” by experts at the United Nations who have “proven unworthy.” Instead, they say the pope should listen to their guys – shills paid directly by oil and gas companies to find data that supports the dubious premise that pouring millions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere does nothing at all. In fact, it’s God’s will to pollute, damn it!

    “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity,” declared Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast.” Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

Unfortunately for the Kochs, it doesn’t appear that Pope Francis is going to be easily persuaded. As Raw Story points out, this summer the pope is expected to publish a landmark encyclical letter that will largely focus on environmental issues. If his previous statements on the issue are any indication, the letter will likely mention climate change and the effects it has had on impoverished, vulnerable people. With the weight (both spiritual and political) of his station behind him, the pope has the opportunity to do a lot of good by calling on nations to address the issue. It’s no wonder polluters like the Kochs are not happy.

With his foray into climate change, we can expect the conservative movement to further attempt to undermine the pope’s image. For decades, conservatives have had a self-declared monopoly on speaking for the religious in America, but Pope Francis has them stymied. Much to the frustration of Republican lawmakers, the pope has been forcefully advocating for a back-to-the-basics form of Christianity that focuses on Jesus’ teachings on compassion and charity.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of money in peace and love, so Republicans who want to balance their sanctimonious holier-than-thou condescension with ample profits for corporations and the wealthy who bankroll them have had to awkwardly pretend that the pope just doesn’t “get it.” This has led to some confusing mixed messages, including – most hilariously – Fox News running an all-out hit piece on the Holy See.

If you never thought you’d see the day, then you just never realized just what gods these conservatives were worshiping all these years. Hint: They’re rectangular, green, and have the faces of several dead presidents.

Spamalot / Danger 5
« on: April 16, 2015, 02:10:05 AM »
Anyone else seen this?

It's from the same creators of Italian Spiderman (who brought you this classic reaction gif) and is basically a spoof of action/spy shows from the 60s (and also the 80s in the second season)

First season is pretty great. Second season doesn't spoof the 80s as well as the first season spoofs the 60s (partly because it's trying to keep up the 60s camp at the same time it's spoofing the 80s). I haven't finished it yet. It's definitely way more out-there/random.

But I definitely suggest the first season if you have Netflix

Spamalot / birthday present to myself
« on: April 06, 2015, 01:17:17 PM »

almost done but bending the plywood (I got 1/2" instead of 1/4" because it was a quarter of the price) is a bitch

General Discussion / Colorblindness correcting sunglasses
« on: March 30, 2015, 12:42:59 AM »

It's easy to take the little things for granted. Like seeing certain colors, for instance.

After watching Valspar's "Color for the Colorblind," you might just look at the world through new eyes.

The video was made in partnership with EnChroma, a company that makes glasses that "enable colorblind people to see color for the first time in their lives," co-founder Donald McPherson says in the video. The camera follows around various colorblind people as they interact with several brightly-colored art installations while wearing EnChroma's glasses.

The impact is nothing short of what you'd expect.

"I've never been able to see this one," says a woman named Atlee, pointing at a swatch of pink paint on the wall. "I just want to cry a little bit. I never realized how much I was affected by the fact that I can't see the world ... the way that other people see the world."

"For a second I felt kind of sad, like, 'Wow I've been missing out, how vibrant everything has been,'" she explained in another video, "and then I thought how cool it is I get the opportunity to see the world in a completely different way, and it's special to me."

One man named Andrew looks at art his son drew him, then stares at the sunset and asks with an incredulous smile, "So is that what you guys see every day?"

McPherson told The Huffington Post that the glasses, which range in price from $325 to $450, address red-green colorblindness, the most common form.
(Story continues below) venice

Left: Venice seen by someone with colorblindness. Right: Venice seen by a colorblind person while wearing the EnChroma glasses.

Left: A landscape seen by someone with colorblindness. Right: The same landscape seen by a colorblind person wearing EnChroma glasses.

"The effect of correcting color blindness can be profound," McPherson told The Huffington Post in an email, describing how people react when they first wear the glasses. "The first experience is typically either one of quiet contemplation or excitement."

"Later on, many users report finally ‘getting’ sunsets, and describe them to us in exacting detail," he continued. "We also hear a lot of reports of appreciating the natural world, seeing the true colors of plants and flowers, realizing that trees have many shades of leaves, and being able to see the difference between flowers, fruit and foliage."

The company is beginning to focus on helping kids, a particularly in-need population because so much information in schools is shared visually. According to McPherson, only 11 states test kids in schools for color blindness. With the wrong diagnosis, he said, colorblind kids are often inadvertently labeled as having a learning disability.

There's a video in the link of several peoples' first experience wearing the glasses.

Pretty cool. I wonder what exactly the difference is that the glasses make. I never realized that color-blindness was based in the eye--I assume that the problem is a lack of certain receptors and that the glasses must filter light in such a way that the available receptors can make some sort of distinction, but I wonder to what extent it's the same distinction that a fully-functional eye makes. Obviously every little bit counts regardless (as evidenced by the wearers' reactions) though.

It also just occurred to me to wonder; if some subset of people with greater color-spectrum-distinguishing ability than normal, how long would it take the rest of us to notice?

General Discussion / Night vision in a bottle
« on: March 28, 2015, 11:55:21 PM »

A group of biohackers say they’ve figured out a way to inject our eyeballs with night vision, or low-light vision anyway. The procedure has allowed one superhuman to temporarily see over 50 meters (164 feet) in the dark, Mic reports.

The team from California-based Science for the Masses (SfM) utilized a compound called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish. It’s also occasionally used to treat night blindness and even cancer. Previous studies have injected the chemical as a photosensitizer into animal models. “After doing the research, you have to take the next step,” says Jeffrey Tibbetts, SfM's medical officer. So SfM’s biochem researcher Gabriel Licina agreed to become a human lab rat.

First, Licina’s eyes were flushed clean and his eyelids were stretched out with a speculum (no blinking!). Then Tibbetts used a pipette to drop 50 microliters of a blackish solution—Ce6 mixed with saline, insulin, and dimethlysulfoxide (DMSO)—into his eyes. Specifically, he was aiming for the conjunctival sac, which should help carry the compound to the light-sensing retina. DMSO increased the permeability of the cells for better absorption. "To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes," Licina tells Mic. He then put protective lenses in his eyes to block out some light; sunglasses helped too.

After two hours, the team tested Licinia's newfound superpower in a dark field. At first, Licina was able to see hand-sized shapes about 10 meters (33 feet) away. In time, he was able to recognize symbols (like numbers and letters) as well as objects moving against different backgrounds at longer distances.

In one test, he had to indicate where people were located in a grove of trees 50 meters away using a laser pointer. He got it right every time, even when the subjects were standing up against a tree or shrub. The four people in the control group were successful about a third of the time.

By the next morning, his eyesight seemed to have returned to normal. So far, there have been no noticeable effects. The full report about their experiment is available online.

General Discussion / Finnland to stop teaching individual subjects
« on: March 27, 2015, 01:37:31 PM »

Finland, one of the leading educational hotspots in the world, is embarking on one of the most radical overhauls in modern education. By 2020, the country plans to phase out teaching individual subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, and instead teach students by 'topics' or broad phenomena, so that there's no more question about "what's the point of learning this?"

What does that mean exactly? Basically, instead of having an hour of geography followed by an hour of history, students will now spend, say, two hours learning about the European Union, which covers languages, economics, history and geography. Or students who are taking a vocational course might study 'cafeteria services', which would involve learning maths, languages and communication skills, as Richard Garner reports for The Independent. So although students will still learn all the important scientific theories, they'll be finding out about them in a more applied way, which actually sounds pretty awesome.

"What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life," Pasi Silander, the Helsinki's development manager, told Garner. "Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society."

The new system also encourages different types of learning, such as interactive problem solving and collaborating among smaller groups, to help develop career-ready skills. "We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow," Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager, who is leading the change, told Garner.

"There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s - but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century," she added.

Individual subjects started being phased out for 16-year-olds in the country's capital of Helsinki two years ago, and 70 percent of the city's high school teachers are now trained in the new approach. Early data shows that students are already benefitting, with The Independent reporting that measurable pupil outcomes have improved since the new system was introduced. And Kyllonen's blueprint, which will be published later this month, will propose that the new system is rolled out across Finland by 2020.   

Of course, there is some backlash from teachers who've spent their entire career specialising in certain subjects. But the new blueprint suggests that teachers from different backgrounds work together to come up with the new 'topic' curriculums, and will receive a pay incentive for doing so.

Finland already has one of the best education systems in the world, consistently falling near the top of the prestigious PISA rankings in maths, science and reading, and this change could very well help them stay there.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I do think learning should be more holistic, but on the other hand I hear "vocation-oriented" and I shudder. I suppose at its best it could be pretty great (even if it is hard to imagine how they'll fluidly shoehorn in an amount of math that I'd consider 'adequate') and at its worst it can't be very much worse than the way things already are in many schools (where the bulk of students--whatever they're actually exposed to in class--come away with much less math than I would consider 'adequate' anyway.)


CONCORD - Fourth graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls received a warm welcome at the State House last Thursday. They and their teacher, James Cutting, were guests in the Gallery.

That reception quickly turned chilly as students got a glimpse of the cold, harsh realities of politics in the Granite State.

In the spirit of learning by doing, students drafted a bill to learn the process of how a bill becomes law. They proposed House Bill 373, an act establishing the Red Tail Hawk as the New Hampshire State Raptor. Even though it passed through the Environment and Agriculture committee with a majority vote, some representatives were far from receptive.

Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester said, "It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood."

That comment, considered offensive by many, was made while the fourth graders sat, watched and listened. The tough lesson didn't end there.

Rep. John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown said, "Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next."

In a 133-to-160 vote lawmakers killed the bill and perhaps the civic enthusiasm of some 9-and-10-year-olds.


General Discussion / Promising alzheimer's treatment
« on: March 19, 2015, 02:04:36 PM »

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memories back.
18 MAR 2015
Facebook Icon11.kTwitter Icon1.4kEmail Icon

Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques - structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques.

Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to get all twisted, which disrupts the transportation of essential materials such as nutrients and organelles along them, just like when you twist up the vacuum cleaner tube.

As we don’t have any kind of vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s - a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide - it’s been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient’s brain. Now a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution for removing the former.

Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue.  By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to move in. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so once they get past the blood-brain barrier, they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the blood-brain barrier is restored within a few hours.

The team reports fully restoring the memories of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

"We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics," one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. "The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach."

The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

You can hear an ABC radio interview with the team here.

I feel like they really ought to be able to just start human trials on a volunteer basis when promising possible new treatment for something as rapidly and devastatingly degenerative as alzheimer's. I mean, obviously they'd have to screen pretty thoroughly to make sure all the volunteers are of sound enough mind to consent, but I can't imagine there'd be any shortage of such people. What's the worst that could happen for that person? If they have to wait two years there's a good chance that their brain will be at least as fucked up from the passing time as it would've been from the side-effects of the experiment if there turn out to be any.

To no one's great surprise

The idea that psychedelics cause psychosis has a long history in urban mythology. Back in the 1980s, when I was a teenager, the way I heard the story was “seven hits of acid make you legally insane.”

Of course, the number fluctuated through the years, but the core idea—drugs like LSD and psilocybin are dangerous to our long term mental health—remained a constant.

Until now.

Two new studies have found no link between psychedelic use and a wide suite of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts.

The first, conducted by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science, made use of the copious data compiled by US National Survey of Drug Use and Health. By examining answers from 135,000 people who took the survey between 2008 and 2011, the researchers identified their core study group—the 14 percent of survey-takers who said they had used any of the three classic psychedelics (acid, mushrooms, or peyote) at some point in their lives.

Working backwards, they discovered that psychedelic-users were not at an increased risk of developing eleven key indicators of serious mental health problems.

A second study done at Johns Hopkins confirmed this finding. This study used the National Survey as core data, but examined responses from 2008 to 2012. Here too, the researchers involved also found no causal relationship between the three classic psychedelics and long-term mental health problems.

But where this second study gets even more interesting is that the researchers then inverted their line of questioning and went looking for positive mental health developments. And they found them. People who had tried LSD or psilocybin had lower lifetime rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Of course, this isn’t the first positive mental health outcome to be attributed to these drugs. The research into psychedelics as a treatment for end-of-life anxiety (brought on by terminal illness) shows that these substances are effective in treating severe anxiety and—equally important—that these benefits persist over time.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Imperial College in London have also begun peeling back the veil on the so-called ‘mind-expanding’ nature of psychedelics, finding some serious scientific evidence for reasons why these drugs help users release longstanding narrow-minded, negative outlooks.

And, finally, there’s also a bevy of research dating back to the 1950s that shows strong correlations between psychedelics and enhanced creativity. This research helps explain why Steve Jobs said taking LSD was one of the most important things he’s done in his lifetime, why Francis Crick was high on low-dose acid when he discovered the double-helix and why Tim Ferriss, in a recent interview with CNN, said: “”The billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis. [They're] trying to be very disruptive and look at the problems in the world … and ask completely new questions.”

But the larger point is that one in five adult Americans takes some kind of mental health drug—meaning anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, etc. What’s more, success rates are suspect. Only 15 percent of people treated for depression with drugs, for example, show long term remission.

But psychedelics—a class of long-vilified substances—are not only much safer than we believed (i.e. they don’t appear to make you crazy) and also shows significant long term mental health benefits across multiple categories: anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and performance-enhancement (for creativity). What’s more, to receive these benefits, you only need to take these substances a few times (not every day like other mental health medications).

Tim Leary believed psychedelics were tools for revolution—tune in, turn on, drop out, and all that. Well, perhaps.

But lost in all that buster is a much more prosaic yet powerful message—the real truth might be that these drugs can help us be a little less afraid and a little bit happier and isn’t that revolution enough?

I'd still like to see a metastudy investigating the link between frequent psychadelic use and believing that, like, money is just like, fluid, ya know? though.

General Discussion / Terry Pratchet down
« on: March 12, 2015, 12:47:31 PM »
surprised out of all you nerds no one cared enough to post about it

I never read anything by him tho

General Discussion / Google's new algorithm: "Knowledge vaults"
« on: March 05, 2015, 12:48:09 PM »
Try to ignore the obnoxious article title/writing

Google Exploring A Big Change Guaranteed To Make Republicans Lose Their Minds
Author: Frank Minero March 4, 2015 1:20 am

Google is working on a new way of ranking web pages. Republicans, notorious for spreading lies to further their political agenda, are sure to hate Google’s new search. It ranks web pages based on facts. That’s right, it ranks web pages higher on the search engine result page based on how truthful they are!

The primary influencing factor in Google’s current search technology is the number of incoming links a website receives. Each incoming link counts as a vote for the website’s credibility. Google places websites with the most votes toward the top of the search results page.

This ranking system has its faults. One striking disadvantage is that it allows websites containing misinformation to reach the top of the results page. In this case, Google’s goal, to provide its user with the most accurate and relevant information, has failed.

According to New Scientist, the new ranking system would tap into an expansive library of facts called the Knowledge Vault. Web pages that spew misinformation, contrary to these generally accepted facts, appear further down on the search results page.

Imagine a Google search that delivers someone questioning Obama’s birthplace to web pages debunking birtherism, climate change deniers to factual scientific data and arguments, anti-vaxxers to web pages that offer credible information about vaccines. Web pages that misinform would be pushed to the bottom of Google search results as they are not based in fact. That’s the new search!

If and when the new search is released, the reaction from Republicans and their ministry of propaganda, Fox News, is sure to be priceless. Web pages selling manufactured talking points and conspiracy theories about Benghazi, Obama’s place of birth and the Affordable Care Act will plummet in Google. Factual information debunking right-wing lies will take its place. Right wing nut jobs will surely label Google as “liberal search” and develop their own ‘conservative approved’ search aka propaganda engine.

The implications are far-reaching. The new search wouldn’t only effect peddlers of political propaganda. Quacks like Dr. Oz will have trouble selling snake oil. Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones will have a harder time connecting with the gullible. Any commercial, governmental or religious power attempting to manipulate the public through false information will be delivered a swift kick to the family jewels.

The new Google would save those who lack common sense the misfortune of happening upon, consuming, then regurgitating misinformation as fact. It would save the rest of us from having to hear about it… and who knows. A society more in tune with factual information might even be a more pleasant place to live.

I, for one, look forward to Google’s experiment becoming reality and the cornerstone of all online search technology!

If you’d rather not wait for Google’s new search, you can improve your internal fact checker today. Michael Shermer is a science writer/historian, founder of The Skeptics Society and Editor in Chief of Skeptic magazine. He outlines a strategy for improving your very own, personal ‘Baloney Detection Kit’ in the video that follows.

Not sure how to feel about this. Obviously in theory it could do a lot of good, but obviously in practice it could be pretty dangerous, given google's near monopoly on search engine traffic. Google seems pretty on-the-level now, of course, but that's certainly not going to be the case forever.


 Researchers from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, claim to have found a way to eliminate HIV permanently from human cells. The team describes its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
hiv virus and blood cells
The researchers constructed HIV-deleting molecular tools from "a DNA-snipping enzyme" and a strand of gRNA used to "hunt down" the genome of the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently more than 1 million people in the US who have HIV, with 50,000 Americans contracting the virus each year.

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been the main treatment for controlling HIV-1 - the most easily transmitted form of the virus - for the last 15 years. As we reported yesterday, antiretroviral therapies have had a significant worldwide impact in extending the lifespan of people infected with HIV.

However, even though HAART controls the replication of HIV-1, the presence of the virus in the infected patient may still contribute to health problems, such as weakening of the heart muscle, bone disease, kidney disease and neurocognitive disorders.

"The low-level replication of HIV-1 makes patients more likely to suffer from diseases usually associated with aging," says Kamel Khalili, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple. "These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus."
Crafting molecular tools to 'delete' a virus

The Temple team instead investigated methods to "delete" the HIV-1 DNA from cells. With this in mind, they constructed molecular tools from the combination of a nuclease - which they describe as "a DNA-snipping enzyme" - and a strand of gRNA used to "hunt down" the genome of the virus.

They based this two-part "HIV editor" on a bacterial defense mechanism that evolved to protect against infection.

The team engineered a strand of gRNA consisting of 20 nucleotides (the building blocks of DNA and RNA) as a targeting system for the editor. This gRNA strand looks for the "long terminal repeats" (LTRs) of the HIV-1 genome - identical sequences of DNA that repeat many times at either end of a viral genome.

When the gRNA locates an end of LTR, the nuclease - called Cas9 - makes an incision. With both ends of the 9,709-nucleotide HIV-1 genome snipped, the host cell's gene-repair mechanisms take over and "solder" the loose ends of the genome back together. The result is a virus-free cell.

To prevent the engineered gRNA from binding with any part of the patient's genome, the researchers ensured that the nucleotide sequences they selected do not appear in the code of human DNA.

Testing the mechanism in cultures of human cells, the team found the tool was effective in eliminating HIV-1 from several varieties of cell known to harbor the virus. These include microglia, macrophages and T cell lymphocytes - the main cell types targeted by HIV-1.
More research is needed before the concept can go into the clinic

"This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS," says Dr. Khalili. "It's an exciting discovery, but it's not yet ready to go into the clinic. It's a proof of concept that we're moving in the right direction."

The next step is for the team to devise a method of delivering their HIV editor to every single infected cell within a host. In addition, the team has to consider that the editor may need to be individualized for the unique viral sequences of each patient, as HIV-1 is prone to mutation.

"We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies," Dr. Khalili says. "We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it."

Dr. Khalili and his colleagues also believe that their technique could be adapted to remove a variety of viruses from patients' cells.

p cool. Another source said that it might be possible for this technique to be applied to other kinds of latent infections (shingles and shit), but I dunno how reliable that is (it was the dailymail)

General Discussion / It would be nice
« on: March 04, 2015, 01:06:27 AM »
If the media framed these cases as something that shouldn't have to fucking happen rather than as touching inspirational stories.

Detroit Man Who Walks 21 Miles To, From Work Receives New Car

 The Detroit man who made national headlines for walking his 21-mile commute to and from work broke down after receiving a new car.

James Robertson, a factory worker from Detroit, has been walking over 10 miles to and from his job for the past 10 years since his last car broke down.

On Friday, a local Ford dealership invited Robertson to test drive cars and surprised him with a new red Ford Taurus.

Flood of Donations for Detroit Man With 21-Mile Walk to Work

“I don’t like it. I love it,” he said, sitting in his new car. “If only my parents could see me now.”

Robertson walks most of his 20-plus mile commute daily, leaving his home in Detroit early each morning to get to work at a $10.55 per hour factory job in time for his 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift.

Man, 61, walks THIRTY FIVE MILES to work every day to support his sick wife, leaving home at 3.30pm to start his 11pm night shift

A 61-year-old janitor has revealed how he walks 35 miles to his night shift job so he can afford to provide for his sick wife.

Steven Simoff works at the Lakeside Casino in Osceola, Iowa, but lives in Davis City, more than six hours on foot down the bleak Interstate Highway 35.

In order to get to work for his 11pm shift he leaves his home at 3.30pm and walks alongside four lanes of thundering traffic in sun, rain, wind or snow.

Feet of endurance: Steven Simoff works as an overnight janitor at Lakeside Casino in Osceola, Iowa, but lives in Davis City, Iowa - 35 miles away. To get to work for his 11pm shift he leaves his home at 3.30pm
Devoted husband: Steven Simoff kisses his wife, Renee, goodbye. 'You've got to keep your job', he said.

Devoted husband: Steven Simoff kisses his wife, Renee, goodbye. 'You've got to keep your job', he said.

Simoff lives with his wife, Renee, who receives Supplemental Security Income and their 22-year-old grandson, Steven, who is currently unemployed.

Money has been tight since Renee suffered a stroke nine years ago. She has also had a couple of heart attacks.

Earning $9.07 an hour in his casino job, Simoff says his family can't afford to live closer to work because their rent in Davis City is just $400 per month.

Simoff owns a 2002 Ford Windstar minivan, but says he can rarely afford to buy gas for it.

'First of all, when you got a family, and you've got a job, you've got to be able to support your family. And you've got to keep your job — the most two important things I can think of,' he told the Des Moines Register.

Simoff's daily trek beats that undertaken by James Robertson, 56, from Detroit who received a $350,000 from a GoFundMe campaign and a new Ford Taurus after his plight received national media attention.

Although Simoff's journey is longer, he told the Register that he can typically catch a lift three out of five days.

He works Thursday-to-Tuesday and says that Sundays are typically the worst for trying to catch a lift.

His frugal approach has its drawbacks, however - he has to buy a new pair of shoes every two months.

On average Simoff spends nearly four hours a day walking to work.

'It all depends on weather and what people feel like that day, if they're going to stop and pick you up,' he said.

On his way home, Simoff is able to hitch a ride most of the way home with a co-worker who lives in Leon, leaving him eight miles to walk.

'He's trying to earn a living,' said Emil Segebart, who has been giving rides to Simoff for a decade.

'That's how I look at it. You're trying to earn a living and doing what it takes. And this is what it takes.'

Once in work Simoff has to spend his eight-hour shift on his feet cleaning the casino, except for two 15-minute breaks and a half hour for a meal.

Despite his advancing years he says he's never been injured while walking to work and the only medication he takes is the occasional aspirin or Tylenol.

'If I don't get to work,' he said, 'bills don't get paid. As long as my two feet are good and my health is good, I don't think I'll change.'

Addicting Info isn't a very objective source for political news but nonetheless

North Carolina’s State Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians. The Committee’s determination that sex had no value and that sex between a lobbyist and politician was nothing to report or in any way questionable means that a major loophole has opened up for lobbying firms. Now lobbying firms can hire people with the explicit goal to seduce and fornicate with politicians in order to garner favor.

In other terms, lobbying firms can hire people who can offer sexual services for politicians, and they don’t even need to register.

Now, before it is said that it is being misinterpreted, here is the actual letter from the Ethics Committee, titled “Sexual Favors or Sexual Acts as a Gift or ‘Thing of Value.'” In it, they declared that these relations have no monetary value, so do not need to be reported. In addition, they declared that if the person is not registered as a lobbyist, there was never any point of concern, even if the service was paid for by a third-party. In other words, lobbyists can hire people expressly for a politician to use in a carnal manner, even if the politician asks for or otherwise indicates their desire for such a service.

Even more disturbing are the long-term implications. Let us say a politician does partake, yet the person who paid for the night of temptation was a less than honest broker. A few hidden cameras, some veiled threat that did not cross the line into blackmail territory, a night of infidelity could put a politician into a less honorable group’s pocket without major cost, and all now rendered perfectly legal by the Ethics Committee of North Carolina.

Lobbying is a practice which needs to end for the good of the republic. When our founders agreed that the people have the right to redress grievances and to petition the government, that did not mean corporations or trade groups being granted superior access to the people themselves. Money is not speech, liberty is not anarchy — freedom for all, not just for the elite.

Spamalot / 10 years of posting
« on: February 28, 2015, 12:26:58 PM »
I registered in February of 2005

What have I done with my life


 The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

    Exclusive: Secret interrogation facility reveals aspects of war on terror in US
    ‘They disappeared us’: protester details 17-hour shackling without basic rights
    Accounts describe police brutality, missing 15-year-old and one man’s death

While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.’ Video: Phil Batta for the Guardian; editing: Mae Ryan

Spencer Ackerman in Chicago

Tuesday 24 February 2015 10.33 EST Last modified on Tuesday 24 February 2015 11.55 EST

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The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

    Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
    Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
    Shackling for prolonged periods.
    Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
    Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department has not responded to any of the Guardian’s recent questions – neither about any aspect of operations at Homan Square, nor about the Guardian’s investigation of Richard Zuley, the retired Chicago detective turned Guantánamo Bay torturer. (On Monday evening, it instead provided a statement to MSNBC regarding the Guardian’s Zuley investigation: “The vast majority of our officers serve the public with honor and integrity,” said the statement, adding that the department “has zero tolerance for misconduct, and has instituted a series of internal initiatives and reforms, to ensure past incidents of police misconduct are not repeated”. Without providing any specifics, it claimed “the allegations in this instance are not supported by the facts.”)

When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”
‘Never going to see the light of day’: the search for the Nato Three, the head wound, the worried mom and the dead man
Homan Square
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‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church. Photograph: Phil Batta/Guardian

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.

Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.

An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after “12, maybe 13” hours in custody.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not locate any record for the Guardian indicating a cause of Hubbard’s death. It remains unclear why Hubbard was ever in police custody.

Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.
‘That scares the hell out of me’: a throwback to Chicago police abuse with a post-9/11 feel
Homan Square
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‘The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,’ criminologist Tracy Siska told the Guardian. Photograph: Chandler West/Guardian

A former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (“I just showed my retirement star and passed through,” Dorsch said.)

Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said. “To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can’t see that happening,” he told the Guardian.

Richard Brzeczek, Chicago’s police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was “never justified” to deny access to attorneys.

“Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: ‘Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,’” Brzeczek said.

“If you’re going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can’t be an exempt facility.”

Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.

A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church’s attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening – about a week before Church’s arrest – did not prevent Church’s prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.

The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.

On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.

“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”

Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.

Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

How could this be such an apparently public secret and still be occurring?

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