Re: Good News, Bad Gossip?
Question: Can gossip cover good news?
David Hauslaib: I think so. To me a story is a story is a story. A good story can encompass any different number of elements. Yes scandal, sex, drugs – that sells much better. But you do have plenty of coverage devoted to various celebrities going all over Africa, opening up schools, helping with refugee efforts. And I think that should make the cover of a magazine. Is it going to sell well? Probably not. But I think we should . . . I think it’s important in the gossip cycle to recognize those efforts. Do . . . I don’t think Americans necessarily care as much whether, you know, Paris Hilton is going to, you know, fund a battered women’s shelter as she is gonna get plastered and flash her crotch. So I’ll let the consumer decide on that one.
Question: Can celebrities leverage their fame for good?
David Hauslaib: Yes, and for all the wrong reasons. I think celebrities ranging from Brad and Angelina all the way down to sort of low level celebs who probably don’t get the attention they deserve for those efforts do bring awareness and attention. I think, you know, you do have a lot of young people – women . . . young girls especially who are absorbing this information, and who for the life of them probably could not find an African country on the map. All of a sudden they know where Malawi is, and Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. And they can put these countries on a map and actually have some cultural awareness. Do I think Angelina Jolie’s cause should be the, you know, first example of their worldliness? Probably not. But is that better than nothing? Absolutely.
Question: How would you describe the traits of a good gossip writer?
David Hauslaib: It really all comes down to connections. You have to know the right people. You have to have the right network of sources. You know gossip reporting works as any other reporting niche does. Whether you’re in finance, education, politics, foreign policy, you know it’s all going to come down to who you know, and who’s feeding you hopefully accurate information. From there I mean the writer has to be able to tell a story. When it comes to blogging, you know we’re dealing with more transparent and more personality driven content. Where as in the tabloid magazine it’s going to be more about painting the overall picture. But with a gossip writer they need to be able to identify what I think is the most important thing to a story, which is that personality behind it.
How do you get information on, say Britney Spears?
Hauslaib: At the top of the game is Britney Spears. She is the number one medium for all Britney Spears related information. She’s well known to phone the paparazzi ahead of time to let her (them) know where she’s going to be heading out to. She’s not alone. Many celebrities and socialites do this also with the hope of being photographed and appearing in a magazine. You know and it trickles down to the paparazzi who are trailing her 24/7 aren’t just selling photos, but they’re selling the stories and information. That information gets picked up by tabloid magazines who, you know, will quote an anonymous friend – who is often a paparazzo – as relaying the story. And then it gets put through the machine of, say, a tabloid magazine or a blog. And then from the other avenue you could have publicists feeding information as well. But I think when it comes to blogging in particular, what’s really phenomenal is that anybody is a source. It doesn’t have to be the celebrity or the photographer. It can be somebody who saw, you know, a certain B-lister out at a restaurant, and suddenly they’re getting in touch with you and they’re the source of the information. And we’re . . . You know I think the perfect examples of that are, you know, the Michael Richards video . . . you know when he was on stage screaming racial epithets. That wouldn’t have been a story were it not for some random person with a camera phone. And that’s really sort of an example of how anybody can provide a story and how gossip is becoming much more democratic.
Question: How does Jossip combat the stiff competition?
David Hauslaib: Sure. I mean that’s part of it, and I think you know the well . . . Let’s say the well-educated American consumer of gossip understands at long last the machine of celebrity; that there are so many things going on behind the scenes that they aren’t privy to for very obvious reasons. And when you have a tabloid magazine that’s owned by a large publishing company who just happens to run a movie studio; who just happens to have a movie coming out this weekend; well guess what? They’re gonna bury or not even report a negative item about that star because they have corporate interest in protecting their profits, which I absolutely get. Our readers come to us knowing at the end of the day it’s me. I’m the . . . I’m the only guy who’s really responsible or has any answering to do when it comes to, you know, the finances or the business end of things. And we don’t have those relationships that we’re protecting. Our policy is if it’s a good story we’re going to report it. It doesn’t matter if there are favors or relationships in play. If we get a hold of that information, we’re going to go with it.
Recorded on: Jan 23 2008
Gossip can achieve positive results for all the wrong reasons.
A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
- The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
- The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.
- Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
- They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
- The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?
But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.
What's dead may never die, it seems
The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.
BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.
The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.
As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.
The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.
"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.
An ethical gray matter
Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.
The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.
Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.
Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?
"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."
One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.
The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.
"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.
It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.
Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?
The dilemma is unprecedented.
Setting new boundaries
Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."
She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.
In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.
- The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
- The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
- Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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