Using ultrasound for male contraception?

Using commercially-available ultrasound technology, scientists have successfully reduced sperm count in rats to a level that would cause infertility in men. Researchers managed to reduce motile sperm to 3 million per cauda epididymis (where sperm are stored), which equates to a Sperm Count Index of zero, measured two weeks after treatment…

Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine utilized widely available ultrasound equipment used for physical therapy to expose the testes of anesthetized rates to ultrasound…at varying power densities, temperatures and durations…

The research takes its cues from 1970s work led by Mosfata S. Fahim into the effects of ultrasound upon the sperm levels of cats, dogs, monkeys and humans…

This research, which received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is led by by Dr. James Tsuruta. The current findings were published today in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. It is not yet absolutely clear how long-lasting the effects of treatment are, nor if there are safety implications for repeated use. The end goal is to see if commercially available ultrasound equipment could provide a safe, viable and impermanent means of male contraception.

I know I’m usually very straight up about the science posts offered here at my personal blog. But, all I can picture in my mind is a commercial for the procedure — done by Mel Brooks. “Let us holler at your testicles for half an hour a day and, Bingo, you’re sterile!”

Don’t let your boss read this: Norwegian companies monitor length of lavatory visits

Call centre workers in Norway are protesting against a hi-tech surveillance system that triggers an alarm if they spend more than eight minutes per day in the lavatory. Managers are alerted by flashing lights if an employee is away from their desk for a loo break or other “personal activities” beyond the allotted time.

But unions and workplace inspectors have branded the practice at insurance company DNB as “highly intrusive” and a potential breach of their human rights.

Norway’s privacy regulator called Datatilsynet has now written to DNB telling them the monitoring system is “a major violation of privacy”. It said: “Each individual worker has different needs and these kinds of strict controls deprive the employees of all freedoms over the course of their working day.”

The employees union Finansforbundet described the rules as unacceptable…

A spokesman added: “Surveying staff to limit lavatory visits, cigarette breaks, personal phone calls and other personal needs to a total of eight minutes per day is highly restrictive and intrusive and must be stopped.”

The firm said the aim of the checks was not to measure the breaks taken by individual workers but to assess staffing needs to ensure all calls from customers were answered and it would now be reviewing the policy. Hogwash!

It is the latest example of lavatory rules in Norwegian companies.

Last year the country’s workplace ombudsman said one firm was reported for making women workers wear a red bracelet when they were having their period to justify more frequent trips to the loo.

Another company made staff sign a lavatory “visitors book” while a third issued employees with an electronic key card to gain access to the lavatories so they could monitor breaks.

Norway’s chief workplace ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon said: “These are extreme cases of workplace monitoring, but they are real. Toilet codes relating to menstrual cycles are clear violations of privacy and is very insulting to the people concerned…”

Bosses who have a fascination with anything in an employee’s life – below the navel – really should be required to spend some time in therapy. Maybe get a life.

Is this a Norwegian thing? I’ve only had one supervisor in my life who seemed to have this sort of demented fixation on my life in the crapper. Harvey – are you still out there somewhere?

Think the Feds ain’t scraping Twitter? Ask a couple of Brits who were barred from the United States

Their vacation trip to Los Angeles came to a screeching halt

Holidaymakers have been warned to watch their words after two friends were refused entry to the US on security grounds after a tweet.

Before his trip, Leigh Van Bryan wrote that he was going to “destroy America”. He insisted he was referring to simply having a good time – but was sent home…

Trade association ABTA told the BBC that the case highlighted that holidaymakers should never do anything to raise “concern or suspicion in any way”. Don’t even fart out loud if you’re passing through the TSA.

The US Department for Homeland Security picked up Mr Bryan’s messages ahead of his holiday in Los Angeles.

The 26-year-old bar manager wrote a message to a friend on the micro-blogging service, saying: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

The Irish national told the Sun newspaper that he and his friend Emily Bunting were apprehended on arrival at Los Angeles International Airport before being sent home. “The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist,” Mr Bryan said…

In another tweet, Mr Bryan made reference to comedy show Family Guy saying that he would be in LA in three weeks, annoying people “and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up”…

After the interview, Homeland Security’s reported: “Mr Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe.

The fact remains that TSA and Homeland InSecurity not only are missing a sense of humor – they have few if any brains. The same people who learn to read and write based solely on phonics appear to have learned what they know of civil liberties at the white American Legion bar on a Friday night.

China stops spread of toxic metal in Longjiang River — next task?

Neutralizers of dissolved aluminum chloride added at a water station
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Officials in southern China appear to have averted environmental calamity by halting the spread of a toxic metal that had threatened to foul drinking water for tens of millions of people…Officials said they had successfully diluted the concentration of cadmium, a poisonous component of batteries, that has been coursing down the Longjiang River in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The spill, which first occurred two weeks ago, prompted a rush on bottled water in several downstream cities and prompted worries that the contamination could reach as far as Hong Kong and Macao.

The cadmium, a substance used in the production of paint, solder and solar cells as well as batteries, has been traced to discharges from a mining company in Guangxi that has since halted production, said Xinhua news agency…

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Catholic colleges continue to deny contraception to students

Bridgette Dunlap organized off-campus clinic for birth control prescriptions

Bridgette Dunlap, a Fordham University law student, knew that the school’s health plan had to pay for birth control pills, in keeping with New York state law. What she did not find out until she was in an examining room, “in the paper dress,” was that the student health service — in keeping with Roman Catholic tenets — would simply refuse to prescribe them.

As a result, students have had to go to Planned Parenthood or private doctors to get prescriptions. Some, unable to afford the doctor visits, gave up birth control pills entirely. In November, Ms. Dunlap, 31, who was raised a Catholic and was educated at parochial schools, organized a one-day, off-campus clinic staffed by volunteer doctors who wrote prescriptions for dozens of women.

Many Catholic colleges decline to prescribe or cover birth control, citing religious reasons. Now they are under pressure to change. This month the Obama administration, citing the medical case for birth control, made a politically charged decision that the new health care law requires insurance plans at Catholic institutions to cover birth control without co-payments for employees, and that may be extended to students. But Catholic organizations are resisting the rule, saying it would force them to violate their beliefs and finance behavior that betrays Catholic teachings…

The administration’s rule has now run headlong into a dispute over values as Republican presidential contenders compete for the most conservative voters. In an election season that features Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who have stressed their Catholic faith, scientific thinking on the medical benefits of birth control has clashed with deeply held religious and cultural beliefs.

The Obama administration relied on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, an independent group of doctors and researchers that concluded that birth control is not just a convenience but is medically necessary “to ensure women’s health and well-being.”

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Students have trouble reading Ivanhoe? – Dumb down the book before they have to read it!

His epic novels used to be required reading for generations of schoolchildren. But the works of the early 19th century author Sir Walter Scott have recently fallen out of favour, considered too ponderous and wordy for the tastes of modern readers.

Now a Scottish academic is hoping to revive the novelist’s reputation by abridging Ivanhoe, one of his best known books, to make the work less “tedious” for a public raised on JK Rowling and Dan Brown.

Professor David Purdie has spent 18 months cutting the classic – set in 12th century England – from 179,000 words to a more manageable 80,000.

His efforts have also led to a backlash from purists upset that such sacred texts could be altered. One former president of the Scott club has demanded that the edited work is not sold under the author’s name…

Sir Walter, from Scotland, was one of the pioneers of the English language novel. He is generally considered the first ever historical novelist and English language writer to gain international fame.

But after his death in 1832, despite grand monuments built to his memory in Edinburgh and Glasgow, his popularity has waned. By the beginning of the 20th century his books were completely out of fashion, eclipsed by their more “entertaining” former contemporaries such as Jane Austen.

Prof Purdie said that if his new version is successful he could give other Scott books the same treatment

An excellent way to continue the dumbing down of the whole society.

When I lived in the Navajo Nation I had the biggest argument I ever had on this same topic – in the bookstore of the Navajo College. I was there on a completely unrelated errand – but, I can’t resist dropping in to look around a bookstore anywhere. Then, I discovered there were almost no normal print volumes.

They accepted lousy reading skills as “normal” and mostly sold comic book versions of what was supposed to be literature.

The chief Angry Bird says — piracy is good for business!

The chief executive of the company behind mobile gaming phenomenon, Angry Birds, has said that piracy helps companies attract more business.

Talking at the annual Midem music conference, in Cannes today, Mikael Hed, the chief executive of Rovio, said: “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.”

He admitted that the games company, which is based in Finland and experienced huge success with the Angry Birds brand, learned from the music industry’s mistakes when thinking about how to deal with piracy…

We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy…”

Hed told Midem delegates that it was futile to pursue people who copy Angry Birds’ games and concepts unless they were harmful to the brand reported The Guardian. He said that he sees any type of piracy as being helpful to the brand in attracting new fans.

Not anything that serious geeks haven’t been discussing – and agreeing with – for years. The failure of the music and movie moguls to understand the Web and digital communications started this discussion – even before piracy became significant. They get the prize for dumb greed when it comes to dealing with intellectual property, anyway. Mostly for screwing creative artists all along.