from the world's big
Moving at the Speed of Internet
Doug Malewicki: Years and years ago, the wife and I were driving to a movie down Culver, which is divided with a bunch of poles and the idea hit me. But the idea was stimulated by a flyer we got from the Mayor of Irvine talking about $120 million light rail project for Irvine which seemed like a ridiculous amount of money 20 years ago. And I kind of figured this out based on my previous experience with the streamlined California Commuter that wow, we can move a lot of people around very fast with aerodynamic little vehicles, low power, and I think I was up until 2:00 in the night after that movie doing a lot of math and calculations because that’s what this all boils down to.
Question: How does the Sky Tran system work?
Doug Malewicki: We kind of call it the physical Internet. And it will be silicon-based transportation. Silicone is something different. We will have little vehicles, two-passenger tandem vehicles, very streamlined; neighborhood speed is 35 mph, major arteries is 100 mph, intercity 150 mph, and they have to be MagLev. You can’t have little vehicles with little wheels and gears, there are other personal rapid transit systems, but they’re limited to about 35-45 mph and if you get a lot of utility out of those – say, you’re putting on 60,000 miles a month, you’re changing tires and gears out all the time, we will have a maintenance nightmare. MagLev, nothing is contacting. There is no wear. So, we have to be MagLev, we have to be very small frontal area and very streamlined. And we’re talking about the equivalent of 200 mpg efficiency in terms of energy costs and no fossil fuels to burn; totally non-polluting. These things are small and light enough that all of a sudden we’re discovering that we can afford to have them solar powered. Now, solar is very expensive, but if you had a train, you couldn’t even create enough power to move a million pounds, but when you’re talking about a 200-pound vehicle with say 500 pounds of payload, solar become pretty practical. So, we may be a total non-grid powered system of the future.
Solar-powered Sky Tran, the solar can be anywhere. Ideally somewhere out in the desert. You just have to look at the costs to install it. There’s new nano-solar, which apparently is going to cut down the costs of solar by a factor of 10, and then they’re saying when we figure out some new brilliant things to cut it down by a factor of five, it will be the choice for all kinds of power. But in the meantime, we’ve got to get rid of fossil fuels. This is one thing that Sky Tran enables is getting rid of fossil fuels and moving people around fast everywhere, non-stop.
Sky Tran runs up in the air on elevated, we call them micro-freeways, guide ways. They’re trapped, they can never derail, they’re up above all traffic, so you don’t have to worry about hitting pets, or potholes in the road; there’s no such critters. You can’t hit kids or other people. People are finally becoming aware of the automatic braking systems for cars that have been around for 10 years, and we’ve been talking about that for Sky Tran forever. You need that. So, if it senses something has happened to a vehicle ahead, it will just stop automatically.
Question: How would the Sky Tran eliminate rush-hour traffic?
Doug Malewicki: Sky Tran has the potential to eliminate commuter congestion totally in the city, and that’s mainly because of the cost. Compared to the light rail especially, you can afford to put parallel guides, in other words – what’s the best way to – say the 405 Freeway. Here, which is a jam, here you could afford the 406, the 407, the 408, the 403, 402, 401 parallel, and then another set of freeways, micro-freeways, perpendicular and then these are all interconnected, so now just think, if you normally get on the 405 and it’s congested, but you could go on the 404, or the 403, or 406, 407, all of a sudden you’re traffic is way down.
The other aspect I haven’t pointed out is, the Sky Tran going 100 mph with the automation factory-type separations that are very, very common these days, we can carry more on this one little rail with these two passenger people, than a three-lane freeway per hour. So, that’s why we use this freeway analogy. And these are very low cost compared to freeways and especially to light-rail.
Question: What kind of density are you imagining for the stations?
Doug Malewicki: We don’t need a high-density around our stations as does light rail to justify the cost because our costs are minimum compared to that. So, we can actually put Sky Tran anywhere; in any little neighborhood, out in the boondocks. The big advantage when we’re talking intercity, comparing to the big trains is, say you’re going Frisco to Los Angeles. So, how many stations are you going to have? You might stop in, depending on the route, Merced, Bakersfield, Fresno, I don’t know. But here, right in San Francisco, you could have 200 stations along that route. So people could conveniently get on and the same with LA. And once you build the grids out in LA and San Francisco, you can go anywhere and get to LA. You could afford to go up there for an evening dinner and go home in a reasonable time too.
Question: How would Sky Tran deal with “the last mile” problem?
Doug Malewicki: There is a problem called, “the last mile.” In other words, if we’re on a one-mile by one-mile 3D grid in the city and we’ve got the city covered, the average person has to walk about five minutes to get to any place within that grid. That’s because we cover a city. Now, light raid, you might have one linear line in a big city. So, you might have to travel four or five miles to get to that light rail to go 15-17 miles per hours somewhere, and then when you get off, are you going to be at your place you want to be, or are you going to have to travel another three or five miles. And this is the intermodel, where you hop on a bus, hop on a light rail, and then hop on another bus to get where you really wanted.
For light rail and things like that, it’s not a last mile, it could be the last 10 miles. With us, it’s a last 600 steps that you have to worry about. And we have cool inventions, which we can’t tell you about, but how about five pound fold-up scooters and things like that that have enough range to get you there? And there’s all kinds of solutions for this. And eventually, once the Sky Tran really takes off, it’ll probably end up going right to people’s houses and maybe you’ll have one car, you won’t need three cars to a family any more and this will change the whole thing. But that’s way off in the future.
Picture this: you’re on your way to work, in a pod, going 100 miles per hour. Meet the Sky Tran.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.