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BUT OF COURSE: More baby boomers opting for cosmetic surgery. “If we were having this conversation in the year 2000, we would only be talking about surgery. Now we have minimally invasive and even nonsurgical techniques available to us.”

AN APPROACH I ENDORSE: ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em:’ University of Illinois serves invasive Asian carp for dinner.

I’ve been promoting this approach for quite some time.

And maybe this will help attract Chinese students: “To understand why Chinese netizens have taken such an interest in the story, it’s absolutely essential to know that the most popular dinner-table fish in seafood-crazy China is carp, bar none. Thus, news of America’s carp problem doesn’t set off alarm — it makes Chinese mouths water. Add the fact that Chinese covet wild carp — an expensive treat compared to cheaper, more common farmed carp — and poetry ensues. . . . The dominant thread in the ongoing discussion is this: The Chinese people, and their voracious appetites, are the solution to America’s carp woes.”

WELL, GOOD: Polar vortex may have killed a significant amount of harmful, invasive insect species.

WELL, GOOD: FDA approves new child vaccine to guard against 6 diseases. “The regulatory agency green-lit VAXELIS Wednesday, pharma giant Sanofi S.A. announced. The company says the drug immunizes against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomeyelitis, hepatitis B and invasive disease due to Haemophilus influenzae type B in children between 6 months and 5 years of age. Children take it in three doses.”

EATING INVASIVE SPECIES: Chefs seek to put iguana on menu.

Hey, it worked with lionfish.

SOMEBODY’S GOING TO GET SUED: Syracuse Cops Force Doctors to Probe a Man’s Rectum for Drugs, Then Bill the Man For It.

According to the story, Jackson was arrested after a pretextual traffic stop where officers found a baggie of marijuana and detected cocaine residue on his car seat.

Jackson has a long rap sheet and was combative with police in jail, but the encounter crossed into dubious ethical and legal territory when police compelled doctors to perform a medical procedure they saw as unnecessary.

Previous cases like this have resulted in police and hospitals paying out huge amounts of money to settle lawsuits.

Jackson was clearly trouble, resisting and taunting the police, but: “At least two doctors resisted the police request. An X-ray already had indicated no drugs. They saw no medical need to perform an invasive procedure on someone against his will.”

I wonder why the doctors gave in, and just how much the city will have to pay out to settle.

ACTUALLY, I’M PRETTY SURE THERE ARE SOME PRECEDENTS: Photos show Paris streets erupting in protest and ‘extreme and unprecedented violence.’

Also: Macron Bails On Climate Summit As France Melts Down.

Plus, thoughts from Richard Fernandez:

UPDATE: The Real Significance of the French Tax Revolt.

Yet none should doubt the long-seething precursor to this conflagration despite the impossibility of capturing winnowed domestic budgets and severe fiscal hardship on film. Furor arising over a life circumscribed by bad luck or adverse conditions is considerable; that which results from unquestionable bureaucratic decrees is ultimately incendiary.

The public reaction to the incremental repression of life’s expression by state coercion at a certain point becomes immediate and visceral. It is playing itself out in the streets of Paris right now.

Consider the larger stakes here. For more than 100 years, European governments have built their invasive states, with the public sector controlling ever more of life. The promise of combining security and prosperity through state enhancement has failed to achieve its promise. And what does the political class propose? More government power, this time in the name of green energy.

That’s their solution to everything. If they ever propose lowering taxes and firing bureaucrats in response to some announced crisis, I’ll believe they’re serious. . . .

PRIVACY: Google faces GDPR complaint over ‘deceptive’ location tracking.

Earlier this year the Norwegian watchdog produced a damning report calling out dark pattern design tricks being deployed by Google and Facebook meant to manipulate users by nudging them toward “privacy intrusive options.” It also examined Microsoft’s consent flows, but judged the company to be leaning less heavily on such unfair tactics.

Among the underhand techniques that the Google-targeted GDPR complaint, which draws on the earlier report, calls out are allegations of deceptive click-flow, with the groups noting that a “location history” setting can be enabled during Android set-up without a user being aware of it; key settings being both buried in menus (hidden) and enabled by default; users being presented at the decision point with insufficient and misleading information; repeat nudges to enable location tracking even after a user has previously turned it off; and the bundling of “invasive location tracking” with other unrelated Google services, such as photo sorting by location.

Under GDPR regulators may “levy major fines for compliance breaches — of up to 4 percent of a company’s global annual turnover.”

That’s a major sum.

WELFARE STATE, OR MULTICULTURAL DIVERSITY: CHOOSE ONE. “To translate these findings: people will tolerate large, invasive, redistributionist states so long as they think people more or less like themselves are benefiting; that is, provided that the public sector is perceived as an overlord of a large family. However, when conditions change, and the population loses its collective demographic characteristics, people don’t like their tax dollars funneled to people too much unlike themselves. They will fight that one of two ways: dismantling the welfare state or kicking out those perceived to be interlopers. In short, all data indicate that the mix of the two – high diversity and high welfare – is not politically sustainable.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Nerve stimulation may be effective against female sexual dysfunction. “This study presents an alternative method for treating female sexual dysfunction that is non-pharmacologic and non-invasive.”

HMM: Vitamin B is potential way to treat acute kidney injury.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found that levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, which are the end result of vitamin B3 after ingestion, declines in acute kidney injury cases. They published their findings Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.

“These findings are very early, but the results suggest that we could one day have a non-invasive test for NAD+ status and perhaps even treat acute kidney injury by boosting NAD+ levels,” principal investigator Dr. Samir M. Parikh, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.

I take Niagen, which is supposed to increase NAD+ levels, so maybe that will help me out if I ever suffer an acute kidney injury. Which I hope is never.

CHANGE: More men are seeking plastic surgery. “Younger men are more likely choosing body enhancement, while older men are turning to minimally-invasive procedures for a more youthful look. Those procedures are up 99% among men since 2000.”

CAYMAN LIONFISH REPORT: I’ve talked about eating invasive species before, and it seems to be working. I tried to get lionfish at a couple of places that had them on the menu, but they were out. Our waitress at the Saltwater Grille told me that they’ve been hunted to the point that they’ve become downright scarce. There’s one restaurant that always has them, but it’s way on the East End. I only saw a couple on the whole trip, and they were hiding out in swim-throughs and tunnels. Word is that they’re more plentiful when you get down below recreational-diver depths, but this still means that the better parts of the reef ecosystem are being protected.

GOOD NEWS: For Some Breast Cancer Patients, The Chemo Decision Just Got Easier. “A study published Sunday finds that many women with early-stage invasive breast cancer could safely forgo chemotherapy, if they score in the midrange or lower for risk that their cancer will recur, as measured by a commonly used genomic test.”

METAPHOR ALERT: Invasive, toxic caterpillars that can kill are about to invade parts of London.

PRIVACY: How I went dark in Australia’s surveillance state for 2 years.

In 2015, during the transition from paper to Opal [contactless public transit cards], Australia passed sweeping new data retention laws. These laws required all Australian internet service providers and telecommunications carriers to retain customers’ phone and internet metadata for two years — details like the phone number a person calls, the timestamps on text messages or the cell tower a phone pings when it makes a call.

Suddenly, Australians were fighting for the right to stay anonymous in a digital world.

On one side of the fence: safety-conscious civilians. They argued that this metadata was a powerful tool and that the ability to track a person’s movements through phone pings or call times was vital for law enforcement.

On the other side of the fence: digital civil libertarians. They argued that the data retention scheme was invasive and that this metadata could be used to build up an incredibly detailed picture of someone’s life.

And sitting in a barn two paddocks away from that fence: me, switching out burner phones and researching VPNs.

When it emerged that police had the power to search Opal card data, track people’s movements and match this to individual users, it was the last straw. August 2016 rolled around, paperless tickets were phased out and I hatched my plan.

It’s a fascinating story.

THESE ARE PRETTY MUCH THE END TIMES FOR CALIFORNIA: Invasive 20-pound rodents increasingly burrowing into California.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: UConn offers counseling, restricts access to Shapiro event. If you treat conservatives as an invasive species, you’re not really promoting the “diversity and inclusion” you’re always yammering about:

YAF Spokesperson Spencer Brown asserted that the review process was adopted by the public university after a controversial scuffle between Gateway Pundit journalist Lucian Wintrich and a protester at his on-campus lecture in November.

“This level of review was imposed upon the conservative students at UConn who are hosting Shapiro due to the school’s inability to maintain the rule of law at a previous lecture hosted by the campus conservative club,” Brown remarked.

“Student safety may seem a noble cause for UConn to cherish, but why isn’t the same level of restraint imposed on speaking events by prominent leftists?” he asked, noting that “just last week, Anita Hill spoke on campus at UConn in an event advertised as ‘free and open to the public,’ with ‘no tickets required for entry.’”

Think of universities as politicized leftist redoubts and you won’t go far wrong.

A QUANTUM OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Sheriff, Deputies Indicted After Subjecting Entire High School To Invasive Pat Downs.

I BLAME “CLIMATE CHANGE:” Debris from 2011 tsunami carried invasive species to North America.

FASTER, PLEASE: Heart failure could be treated using umbilical cord stem cells. “Using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord, researchers have improved the heart muscle and function of heart failure patients, paving the way for noninvasive therapies.”

MANY INVASIVE SPECIES ARE DELICIOUS: Rounding Up Canada Geese To Feed The Homeless.

SO YOU’LL BE ABLE TO BE A WIREHEAD WITHOUT WIRES: Researchers Invent New Method for Non-Invasive Deep Brain Stimulation.

“IF YOU CAN’T BEAT IT, EAT IT.” Maryland’s Grossest Invasive Fish Has a New Predator: High-End Chefs.

When hundreds of mostly juvenile snakeheads turned up in a pond in Crofton, Md., in 2002, the progeny of discarded pets dumped by one owner, the government poisoned the pond. Two years later, when an angler caught a snakehead in a lake 25 miles west, Maryland drained the lake.

But soon snakeheads were spotted in the Potomac River, which divides Maryland and Virginia as it flows to the Chesapeake Bay. Poisoning and draining weren’t an option. Since then, Maryland has adopted a different tack: If you want to beat it, eat it.

The state sponsored snakehead-fishing tournaments and now sells $15 commercial licenses aimed at those who snag the hard-to-catch fish with a bow and arrow. The Potomac’s commercial harvest, sold to restaurants and wholesalers, has risen from almost zero in 2011 to 4,320 pounds in 2016.

“What better way to try to wipe something out than to get humans involved with it and create demand?” said Chad Wells, corporate chef for the group that owns Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.

Indeed. But serving up invasive species is nothing new to Instapundit readers.

HEALTH: Apple has a secret team working on the holy grail for treating diabetes.

Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Such a breakthrough would be a “holy grail” for life sciences. Many life sciences companies have tried and failed, as it’s highly challenging to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin.

The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways, the people said.

From a business aspect, the most interesting part of this venture might be how Apple combines its penchant for secrecy with maneuvering through those regulatory pathways. It’s one thing to introduce another new bit of consumer electronics kit. It’s an entirely other thing to get a medical device — which I’m pretty sure this would be — past the FDA.

SECURITY THEATER: TSA warns about more invasive airport pat-downs.

HEALTH: One Breath Into This Breathalyzer Can Diagnose 17 Diseases.

Researchers invited about 1,400 people from five different countries to breathe into the device, which is still in its testing phases. The breathalyzer could identify each person’s disease with 86 percent accuracy, the researchers said.

The technology works because “each disease has its own unique breathprint,” the researchers wrote in the study.

The breathalyzer analyzes microscopic compounds — called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — to detect each condition. Testing for VOCs isn’t a new approach; in 400 B.C., physicians learned that smelling a patient’s bodily emissions could help with diagnoses. For instance, doctors used to smell the stools and urine of infant noblemen daily, the researchers said.

But while excrement and other bodily substances, such as blood, contain VOCs, examining exhaled breath is the cheapest, easiest and least invasive way to test for the compounds, the researchers said.

Get the regulators out of the way so that these things are both affordable and available over the counter, and bundle them with a free mobile app which can share data with your healthcare provider.

HOW HIGH CAN YOU GET? Now You Can Play Classic Arcade Games Directly In Facebook Messenger.

Messenger still creeps me out.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: London doctors are first in the world to print a 3D heart model.

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a honorary consultant cardiologist, said the technology was useful in invasive heart procedures and in and treating heart rhythm disturbances in patients born with congenital heart disease.

She said: “Firstly, surgeons and other clinical team members are able to better grasp how a patient’s heart is affected by their condition. This leads to better care and allows us to diagnose and repair conditions with less need for invasive diagnostic procedures.

“Secondly, a 3D model can be a huge help with the communication between the clinical team and the patient. A 3D visual representation of the heart is so much clearer than anything we could put in to words.”

How long before doctors are able to 3D print a self-contained artificial heart?

1984 WAS JUST A FEW DECADES TOO EARLY: George Orwell never dreamed of advertising as invasive as Yahoo’s proposal.

CONGRESSMAN WHO BELIEVED GUAM WAS IN DANGER OF TIPPING OVER DUE TO OVERPOPULATION CALLS FOR DHS OVERSIGHT OF ELECTION SECURITY: “Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said Congress should give the Department of Homeland Security authority over the security of the nation’s voting systems to prevent the ‘destabilization’ of democracy.”

There’s a far simpler and much less invasive method, of course.

IN FLORIDA, it’s open season on lionfish.

They’re delicious.

GOOD! Whole Foods Market to sell invasive lionfish starting Wednesday.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

HERPES: Australia’s Surprising Weapon Against Invasive Fish.

To rid their streams and rivers of invasive European carp crowding out native freshwater species, officials plan to begin introducing a strain of the herpes virus — Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3), or “carp herpes” — into fish populations.

In a statement released May 1, Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) officials described their National Carp Control Plan, which will be developed over the next two and a half years at a cost of approximately AU$15 million (about US$11.2 million) and potentially deployed by 2018.

Research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has already determined that the virus kills European carp quickly, and that it does not develop in native fish, in other introduced fish species or in other animals — including humans.

Good to know.

THE TSA WILL HAVE TO FIGHT THIS TOOTH-AND-NAIL, SINCE IT UNDERMINES ITS ENTIRE REASON FOR EXISTENCE: CEI Sues over TSA’s Body Scanners. “CEI et al. argue that TSA’s final rule fails to consider one important factor related to the deployment body scanners: a potential increase in highway injuries and deaths. If that sounds crazy, let me explain. Past research suggests that post-9/11 airport security policies were so invasive that a number of would-be air travelers decided to drive instead. Given the fact that auto travel is far more dangerous than air travel, three Cornell University economists found that TSA’s invasive, time-consuming airport screening policies resulted in about 500 additional highway fatalities annually in the years following 9/11—more than a fully loaded 747 per year.”

I think I wrote a column making this point over a decade ago.

GOOD IDEA: Eat an Invasive Species for Dinner: To control the spread of lionfish, ecologists and chefs are trying to make it a mainstream meal option.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

FASTER, PLEASE: Non-Invasive Nerve Stimulator Tamps Down Brainwaves That Cause Migraines. “Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) raised the level of resistance to electrochemically triggered CSD threefold, according to the scientists. But the speed with which VNS acted is likely to give it a real advantage over today’s pharmaceuticals. CSD were suppressed a mere 30 minutes after stimulation, a ‘strikingly rapid onset of action compared to prophylactic agents, such as topiramate and valproate,’ Dr. Cenk Ayata, the assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Massachusetts General who led the research, said in a press release. Those drugs typically take several weeks to achieve comparable results. Ayata and colleagues published their findings in the journal Pain.”

INSOMNIA THEATER (BACK TO SCHOOL EDITION!): BRAINWASHING PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE—This week’s edition takes us back to 2007, when the University of Delaware’s Office of Residence Life used mandatory activities to coerce students into changing their thoughts, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits to conform to a specific university-approved social, environmental, and political agenda. After FIRE waged a campaign calling attention to the Orwellian curriculum, the university terminated the program, effective immediately. Since that initial victory, however, there have been continued attempts to reinstate the coercive elements of the program. This video explains the program’s invasive thought-reform activities; the horrified reactions of students, faculty, and the press; and FIRE’s response.

If you want to learn more, you can also check out this award-winning article by Adam Kissel. The program was so bad I even devoted nearly an entire chapter to it in my book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.


SCIENCE: A new technology will allow authorities to tell whether you used drugs recently, if you’re a smoker, even what sex you are—all from your fingerprints. But there’s this: “There is a cost to a test being less invasive: It doesn’t require someone’s permission to be conducted. Civil liberties advocates fear that our rights could be violated without us even realizing it – with a test whose accuracy is not yet known.”


I’m on board with that! Though as far as I’m concerned, all meat is guilt-free meat.

And here’s a followup.

FASTER, PLEASE: Non-invasive spinal cord stimulation gets paralyzed legs moving voluntarily again.

CAYMAN REPORT: Okay, I’ve been slow to post this because I got home a day late (thanks, Delta!) and had a lot to do. But here goes. First, the diving: As usual, it was great. Interestingly, I wondered if hitting the Rippetoe-style weight training was going to hurt my air consumption, but it didn’t. My fear was that having added a substantial amount of muscle mass, that muscle would require more air. But, in fact, my air consumption was the best it’s ever been: I was finishing hour-long dives at 50-60 feet and still getting on the boat (after a safety stop) with 1200 pounds. (Starting with 3000-3200 pounds of pressure in the tank). Perhaps more muscle made me swim more efficiently, or maybe — and I think this is likely based on my experience doing aerobically demanding stuff — the weight training has boosted my cardiovascular fitness. Whatever, it was a relief.

The weather was terrific, the reefs looked good, and I dove the Kittiwake again, which I thought would bore me but which didn’t. There’s just so much to explore there, and the marine life changes every time. This time it was full of silversides, which made huge clouds that were super-cool to swim through. One caveat: If you tend toward claustrophobia, which I absolutely do not, you probably don’t want to dive the Kittiwake, and you might find being in the middle of a cloud of fish that cuts off your vision upsetting.

The fight between Cayman officials and the Cayman Compass over a corruption editorial was still the talk of the town, with most people I talked to saying that the Governor (a British official with great but seldom-used power) might wind up intervening. (Islands are basically like municipal governments pretending to be a nation, and the possibility of outside supervision is salutary.)

But that’s not the big story or conflict. The big conflict is over a proposed cruise ship dock that would damage a lot of the reef. The folks at Sunset House, a dive resort that I’ve stayed at in the past, write:

The Environmental Impact Assessment indicates that dredging and its silt plume will destroy much of the unique, thousands of years old reefs that we currently earn over $20 million/year from and upon which numerous watersports operations are primarily dependent.

The Wreck of the Balboa will be dredged up, as well as Soto’s South will certainly perish, but the deadly silt plume will likely affect all of the reefs in the harbor to various extents, including Soto’s Central, Soto’s North (Cheese Burger Reef) and Eden Rock.

The massive silt plume will destroy the reefs to the South of Sunset House to as far North as Treasure Island Resort.

Seems like a terrible idea to me. The cruise ships bring in lots of people, but they don’t stay long, they only spend money in the rather tacky cruise-ship area of town, and, frankly, I think they give people a bad impression of the island. As Doug Weinstein and I have noted, when you drive past, you never see the cruise ship people smiling. They generally look tired and disgusted as they trudge around. And when I talk to people who say they’ve “been to Cayman” on a cruise ship, their impressions are usually not favorable. Divers, on the other hand, tend to stay a lot longer — a week, say — and spend a lot more money, as well as coming away with a lot more good things to say about the place. Cruise ships are kind of the “fast food” of tourism.

The dive community has a petition and a Facebook page. I’ve reported here before about how Cayman has done a good job of balancing environmental and financial concerns; this would seem to be a departure from that.

Lionfish, which I’ve written about before, were vastly less plentiful everywhere I dove, and more restaurants were serving lionfish appetizers (the ceviche is excellent) and entrees. Lionfish is quite tasty, and while they still thrive at depths recreational divers can’t reach — there aren’t enough tech divers to make much of a dent in the population at 300 feet down — they have been significantly beaten back. Also, they’re delicious.

I briefly met the fair Fiona, who married a Caymanian and has thus been able to stick around (and have a kid) despite Cayman’s highly restrictive immigration laws.

Here’s a sporadically updated Cayman political/economic blog.

In terms of equipment, not much change in my setup. I’ve used this Cressi Travelight BC for the last couple of years, as my old SeaQuest was getting kind of frayed. I use an Atomic Aquatics M1 regulator which I like a lot, and I still use a Suunto Vyper dive computer, which I’ve had for a decade now. I dive with the Spare Air, too, though I’ve never used it. Best investment? A prescription dive mask that I got at Diver’s Supply on Cayman a while back. They fitted me on the spot and although I can see okay underwater without it, it’s a lot nicer to be able to see clearly. I highly recommend one of these.

When on Cayman I generally dive with Nat Robb’s In Depth Watersports. Great service, great boats, a great experience.

WHEN ACCEPTANCE TURNS TO HARM: Psychiatrist Paul McHugh had an intriguing take on “accepting” transgendered individuals a few months back in the WSJ that may be worth re-reading in the wake of the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner revelation:

[P]olicy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight. . . .

When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription. . . .

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

It’s an interesting question: If individuals who seek sex reassignment surgery are suffering from a treatable mental disorder–a form of body dysmorphic disorder–that could allow them to recover without invasive surgery, shouldn’t society encourage the less intrusive psychological therapy rather than the more intrusive (and irreversible) surgery? Indeed, if the surgery does not improve–but amplifies–underlying psychological disorders such as depression, would not the surgery constitute an unethical harm? Why is society so eager to lump “transgendered” individuals into the same category with homosexual or bisexual individuals? I know LGBT makes a nice-sounding acronym and all, but is there a principled, medical reason to treat the LGBs differently from the Ts? Where is the psychiatric community on this question? 

WASN’T THERE A STAR TREK EPISODE WITH THIS? New targeted, noninvasive treatments for mental illness to combine TMS and ultrasound.

SPYING: More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations. “Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents.”

Great. First they all got SWAT teams, now the Department of Agriculture is running undercover operations. Cut their budgets — they obviously have too much money.

THEIR WEAKNESS IS THAT THEY’RE DELICIOUS: A Call to Action Against a Predator Fish With an Import Ban, an App and Even Rodeos.

Here are the results of my research into the subject.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, OFFICIOUS BUREAUCRATS WOULD BE PRYING INTO PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Public university requires students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action. “Clemson University is requiring students to reveal how many times they’ve had sex in the past month and with how many partners. In screenshots obtained exclusively by Campus Reform, the South Carolina university is asking students invasive and personal questions about their drinking habits and sex life as part of what they’ve billed as an online Title IX training course.”

DAVID SOLWAY: The New Colonizers: When prayer space is really occupied territory. “Every immigrant group in this country has variously adapted to the heritage culture, integrating more or less seamlessly by the second generation. However, second-generation Muslims are increasingly being radicalized, some going off to fight with jihadist militias in the Middle East and Africa, others plotting terror attacks on the very country that has offered them freedom, health care, education and the opportunity to prosper. The common denominator along this spectrum of cultural invasiveness is the sentiment of vested ascendancy and pre-eminence minus the obligation of having to earn them.” Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism. Pick any two.

SCREW IT, I’M STILL EATING LIONFISH: Is Concern About “Invasive Species” Racist?



This sounds kinda familiar, but that’s okay.


JELLYFISH PROBLEM? “If you can’t beat them, eat them.”

I’ve championed a similar approach myself, but naturally the environmentalists are mucking things up.

QUENT CORDAIR FINE ART SALE: Longtime Instapundit reader and occasional sponsor Linda Cordair emails to note:

The sidewalk construction in front of the gallery is causing us more problems than we anticipated. Last night the demolition crew snagged one of the gas lines. They are going to have to replace all of the gas line to bring it up to code which will be invasive to the interior of the gallery. On the upside, we’re getting new pipes. On the other side, more closed days are likely.

In any case, I decided to have a “No-Sidewalk Sale.” We are offering 5% off anything in the gallery for the next two days. I would be very grateful for any assistance you care to lend to promote it.

Happy to help; stop by their Website, here.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Wellesley students: Please censor art to protect our feelings. “Others make statements that seem to indicate that it is the whiteness and maleness of the subject of the sculpture that is the problem. One talks about ‘the power of the nearly nude, white, male body to disturb and discomfit,’ while another complains that ‘Mr. Matelli comes from a place of great privilege which has apparently been used to place a sculpture of the white male body on campus. I find it weirdly invasive.’ Readers can be forgiven for finding this explicit hostility towards a given race and sex to itself be a bit discomfiting.”

WHY, YES: As Lionfish Invade the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Conservationists Say Eat Up.

That’s the conclusion of my own research into the subject, as well.

MARGARET WENTE: Obamacare, where the liberal dream crashes and burns.

The Affordable Care Act was going to save the world. But now, the law’s supporters will be happy just to save the furniture. They used to talk about transformation. Today they’re simply hoping for survival.

The botched website was an unforced catastrophe. But that’s not the real problem with Obamacare. The real problem, as dozens of thoughtful commentators have concluded, is the law itself. Obamacare is a massive policy experiment that seeks to remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy – a body that’s so fantastically complex, with so many players and so many moving parts, that nobody can possibly understand how they all interact. Tweak one part, and other parts will behave in unpredictable ways. Pull on a thread and half the sweater may unravel. Even Max Baucus, the Democratic Senate finance chairman, has warned that implementing a law so complicated could be a “train wreck.”

The biggest threat to Obamacare is not Republicans. The biggest threat is Murphy’s Law, along with its corollary, the Law of Unintended Consequences. These are the most powerful laws in the world. They are even more powerful than the Affordable Care Act, and they are the nemesis of all master plans. Evidently, the President and his merry band of wonks had never heard of them.

Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. It’s not just that he looks incompetent – it’s that he looks deceitful.

Well, that’s because he’s both. Plus:

Obamacare is much more than a test of a presidency. It’s a test of whether big government can solve big problems. And so far, the answer is very bad for the entire liberal enterprise. As venerable left-leaning pundit Thomas Edsall wrote in The New York Times, “Cumulatively, recent developments surrounding the rollout of Obamacare strengthen the most damaging conservative portrayals of liberalism and of big government – that on one hand government is too much a part of our lives, too invasive, too big, too scary, too regulatory, too in your face, and on the other hand it is incompetent, bureaucratic and expropriatory.”

The old argument for Big Government’s competence was “we won World War II, we split the atom, we built dams and interstate highways and spaceships.” Now, well. . . .

JAMES TARANTO: They’re Desperate Now: ObamaCare supporters crank up the racial rhetoric.

Sometimes it’s obvious when somebody states the obvious, and we’ve seen a lot of examples of late as America’s left-liberals have struggled to come to grips with the disaster of ObamaCare. Example: “The mismanagement of the website and the cancellation of millions of policies pushes an underlying question out into the open: Is the federal government capable of managing the provision of a fundamental service through an extraordinarily complex system?” Arguably the answer is no less obvious than the question.

It is nonetheless remarkable for its source: Thomas Edsall, a “contributing op-ed writer” for the New York Times (we surmise that means he’s not on the New York Times Co. health-insurance plan). Edsall goes on to admit that “recent developments . . . strengthen the most damaging conservative portrayals of . . . big government”–to wit, that “too much a part of our lives, too invasive, too big, too scary, too regulatory, too in your face” as well as “incompetent, bureaucratic and expropriatory.”

Which, of course, means it is necessary to change the subject to something more comfortable: race.

Yawn. Race-talk is employed when Democrats are losing. Nobody takes it seriously anymore, not even Democrats. “The charge of racism is a sign of desperation. Expect to hear it more and louder in the coming weeks and months as the ObamaCare failures multiply.”

I’VE GOT A PIECE IN ROAD & TRACK: Don’t track me, bro! As gas tax revenues drop, governments look to more invasive solutions, privacy be damned.

I’VE GOT A PIECE IN ROAD & TRACK: Don’t track me, bro! As gas tax revenues drop, governments look to more invasive solutions, privacy be damned.

UPDATE: Link was wrong before. Fixed now. Sorry!

LIONFISH UPDATE: An Unabated Siege Of The Atlantic.

Well, I’m doing my part.

EATING INVASIVE SPECIES: Houston Restaurant Offers Lionfish. “Four bar seats face the area where Gaston prepares a variety of internationally themed delicacies, from sashimi to ceviche, crudo, mana, steak tartare, and the lionfish dish, Poisson Cru. He places a sizeable fillet on the board, deftly slices it into strips and lays them out on a dish. He mixes coconut milk with ginger and chiles in a bowl, pours it over the fish and adds morsels of fresh orange and olive oil. I enjoy it with a gimlet made with Tito’s Ruby Red vodka, an excellent complement to the flavors. Cove Bar also serves a list of wines by the glass and bottle, a selection of draught and bottle beers and daily drink specials. Downing my plate of lionfish, I’ve not only enjoyed a delicious appetizer; I’ve done a good deed, as well.”

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.


At University of Virginia, where I am visiting this term, it’s apparently not just answer-or-pay. It’s sign up your body for Big Insurance’s invasive eyes or pay. Faculty who don’t show up for workplace screening are penalized according to the Aetna health plan “incentives”.

Fundamentally these programs are not about individuals at all. They are about forcing people into being part of massive samples for junk “research” that will hound everyone for years to come. As you know, if you push sample sizes big enough, standard errors fall and you can find practically any point estimate statistically significant, so these huge samples mean ever more “significant” correlations to obsess over…

Anyway please leave my name out of any further discussions. the PC land of campus life could brand me an unwanted guest and I don’t want to go home yet.

It’s a pretty nice place — I visited there back in the 1990s. Though Charlottesville, I have to say, makes Knoxville seem like a sprawling metropolis. I was single then; it seemed like a better place to be married if you were on the faculty.

Meanwhile, here’s more skepticism on wellness programs. “Even more interesting is that there are no data on the program home page, in GE’s DataViz, or in the 10k or annual report on the wellness program’s ability to attenuate medical care spending or modify employee risk measures. GE does not break out medical care spending for current employees as a line item anywhere. GE does report, however, that it spent $500M on retiree health benefits in 2013, a figure it expects will increase to $600M in 2013. Ironically, the wellness program apparently is not foisted upon retirees. The only outcomes metrics explicitly cited in public GE documents and presentations have to do with participation rates, not actual changes in the prevalence of risk factors or the incidence of wellness-sensitive events in any group of GE employees. . . . GE’s half-a-loaf approach to wellness is a warning flag to every business considering a wellness program as a result of federal encouragement. If a Fortune 10 company, with effectively no resource constraints, cannot produce believable data on wellness program costs or effectiveness – or worse, chooses not to produce data because their diagnostics business depends on showing returns from diagnostic activities – what exactly does that mean? Aside from winning wellness industry accolades, which is like being in a child’s sports league where everyone finishes first and gets a trophy, despite the huge investment that they’ve made, GE cannot say definitively that its wellness strategy has brought any good things to life.”

Well, you don’t want your retirees to live longer. That costs more money. But I suspect the reason for not including metrics on actual health-cost improvement is that there aren’t any, because the programs don’t do anything. I predict that this will turn out to be a fad, with the chief beneficiaries being consultants and wellness-plan administrators.


After weeks of vociferous objections by faculty members, Pennsylvania State University said on Wednesday it was suspending part of a new employee wellness program that some professors had criticized as coercive and financially punitive.

In particular, the university said it was suspending a $100 monthly noncompliance fee that was to be levied on employees who declined to fill out an online questionnaire. The form, administered by WebMD Health Services, a health management company, asked employees for intimate details about their jobs, marital situation and finances. It also asked female employees whether they planned to become pregnant over the next year.

Last week, in an emotionally charged faculty senate meeting held on the main campus, several female professors told administrators that requiring women to answer such questions — or pay a fine — amounted to an invasion of their privacy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rodney A. Erickson, the president of Penn State, said that the university had heeded faculty concerns about the perceived invasiveness of the questionnaire and the punitive nature of the fine. “We have decided to suspend the $100-per-month surcharge so that people who are uncomfortable with any aspect of the survey will not feel as if they are being penalized,” Mr. Erickson said in the statement.

Many employers use financial incentives to encourage employees to participate in workplace wellness programs, a trend that is likely to widen with the new health care law.

Prediction: These “wellness programs” will turn out to be complete wastes, and not save any money.

SPYING: When it mattered most, invasive surveillance programs didn’t work, say reporters.

IT HAS ME THINKING ABOUT DINNER: Invasive Asian Tiger Shrimp Species, Now in the U.S., Has Scientists Worried About Ecosystem.

Adult tiger shrimp, whose native habitat stretches from southern Japan through Southeast Asia to South Africa, are known for distinctive black stripes, can grow to the length of a man’s arm and weigh as much as a pound. While the monster shrimp are just as edible as U.S. shrimp, marine scientists are trying to figure out whether they will upset local ecosystems and possibly supplant smaller brown and white shrimp, mainstays of the U.S. shrimping industry.

I have a solution. And some people seem to be catching on already:

Tiger shrimp sightings reported by U.S. commercial shrimpers increased in 2011, and then dropped in 2012 and 2013. But scientists and shrimpers agree the decline isn’t because the tiger shrimp aren’t there.

“We don’t turn them in anymore,” said Brian Schjott, 36-year-old captain of the Mr. Fic, a Bayou La Batre-based shrimp boat. “We just eat ’em.”

Shrimping last year off the East Coast, his crew pulled in tiger shrimp that were 14 inches long, he said. “We wrapped them in bacon and grilled them with sweet-and-sour sauce,” he said.

If only all our problems were this simple. . . .

INVASIVE SPECIES UPDATE: Lionfish Beyond Reach of Divers Worry Researchers. This is consistent with what I heard when I was on Cayman last — they’re getting scarce down to 100 feet or so, but remain quite common below that. Tech divers, of course, can go considerably deeper, but there aren’t enough of them to deplete the lionfish population.

IRS SCANDAL: The Difference Between Harassment And Routine Scrutiny.

This week’s disclosure does reveal that there was, in fact, a dedicated “Tea Party Coordinator” at the IRS, a position that had no analogue on the left.

What’s more, nothing the Democrats have brought forward explain why:

(1) Only 30 percent of groups with the word “progressive” received extra scrutiny — but 100 percent of groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their name were subjected to invasive questioning.

(2) Agency officials have claimed in the past that “Tea Party” could mean “liberal” — if, indeed, liberal groups were on the BOLO lists as we’re now being told;

and again, the grandaddy of them all

(3) Why only conservative groups have been able to document harassment from the IRS.

When Democrats can bring forward lefty groups like all the conservatives who testified before Congress, that’s when their claims that the targeting was incompetent — and bipartisanly so — will begin to gain even a scintilla of credibility.


SO MUCH FOR THE SPIN: IRS auditor reaffirms that conservatives, not liberals, were targeted.

“TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny — specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled “Progressives,” were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” Inspector General J. Russell George said.

He said that while 30 percent of groups that had the word “progressive” in their name were given extra scrutiny, 100 percent of groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names were pulled out for strict scrutiny, which involved what the IRS since has said were invasive and inappropriate questions.

Democrats have argued that the IRS‘ scrutiny of applications for tax-exempt status hit both ideological sides equally, which would cut at the GOP’s argument that it was politically motivated. Instead, Democrats have said the scrutiny is the natural result of a jump in applications after campaign finance rules changed following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case.

But Mr. George’s letter suggests that’s not the case.

Another excuse bites the dust. Related: Treasury: IRS targeted 292 Tea Party groups, just 6 progressive groups.

RICH LOWRY: The Rand Paul Moment.

You won’t find him on any Federal Election Commission disclosure forms, but Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is the biggest in-kind donor to the incipient Rand Paul for president campaign.

Whatever its merits, the National Security Agency meta-data program couldn’t be better fashioned to play into fears of the government. Is it vast? Yes. Was it secret? Check. Does it arguably run outside the normal checks and balances of government? Uh-huh. Does it raise profound questions about privacy? Roger.

This is the kind of issue Rand Paul was born and (literally) raised to raise holy hell over. And it isn’t just the NSA program lately. The leak about the program came on the heels of revelations that the IRS was singling out tea party groups for extra scrutiny and invasive questions, and on the heels of the AP and James Rosen investigations.

Add in the gun control fight from earlier this year and Paul is nearly 4-for-4 in fights sticking up, in his view, for the first four amendments of the Bill of Rights. The only thing that is missing is the third, because no has proposed the quartering of troops in our homes — yet.

Yet, indeed. Plus: “Paul has that quality that can’t be learned or bought: He’s interesting.”

WELL, FIRST THEY CAME FOR FILMMAKER NAKOULA, AND THE A.P. DIDN’T DO ANYTHING: Shredding the Constitution: Obama’s attack on the media. “The president hasn’t attempted to distance himself from the Associated Press snooping campaign. To the contrary, he offered ‘no apologies.’ To be blunt, he approves the most invasive breach of the First Amendment against any news organization in the history of the republic. No president has tried this and for good reason. We now have yet another media abuse story, in a way much more severe. The Post breaks the story that the Obama administration indulged in excruciatingly invasive spying on James Rosen of Fox News and, in an unprecedented move, asserted that his newsgathering is criminal.”

I, on the other hand, was ahead of the curve on this kind of stuff. See my 2009 Wall Street Journal piece, Media Criticism, Chicago Style.


IN POPULAR MECHANICS, A LIONFISH REPORT FROM CAYMAN: Yes, You Can Fight Invasive Species by Eating Them. (Bumped).

IN POPULAR MECHANICS, A LIONFISH REPORT FROM CAYMAN: Yes, You Can Fight Invasive Species by Eating Them.


I’m not saying I want Gregory prosecuted. I only want people to see how unfair it is to have a law that seems ridiculous to enforce against him, when that law is used against others. And Gregory richly deserves to be slapped around on the blogs, because he’s making the argument — that’s why he was waving that thing around — that there ought to be more invasive gun laws. He wants the government to reach more deeply into the ordinary lives of private citizens, and he’s entirely reckless about what these laws would really mean to ordinary people, and it[‘]s a recklessness that thrives in the mind of someone who easily and instinctively believed — correctly! — that the law did not apply to him.

Just remember, those who are above the law are in a poor position to hide behind it. Plus, from the comments:

What the decision to not prosecute Gregory while simultaneously insisting that the magazine ban law that he violated is important means is that there is absolutely no moral component to our legal system.

The only reason to not violate the law is from a reasonable fear of getting caught if you don’t have enough juice to get out of it. This also has interesting implications for the jury system.

Let’s see how well this new way of organizing society works out.

If those who enforce the law are amoral, they can expect to exercise little in the way of moral authority. Yes, I’m talking to you, Irvin Nathan.

UPDATE: Compare David Gregory’s free pass with the prosecutorial bullying aimed at Aaron Swartz.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Lionfish. Key part: They’re delicious!

I have some related thoughts.

LIONFISH UPDATE: Reader Chuck Wingo emails:

Just got back from a 10 day diving trip to the Bahamas, and thought you’d be interested to know that the lion fish population there is down noticeably from a year ago. Last year our group caught about 50 during a one week trip, but this year, on a ten day trip, we barely caught 20. When we questioned the captain of our boat he told us that we weren’t an isolated case: divers all over the Bahamas have been reporting fewer lion fish all year.
No one seems to know why. Popular explanations include divers taking more, and sharks and other predators learning just how tasty they are, but both of these are just speculation. Sharks and groupers at least seem to have developed a taste for them; our group had about 5 taken right off our spears: one by a grouper and the others by gray reef sharks.
It would be nice if the lower population is permanent, but it’s obviously too early to say if this is permanent. On the other hand we all missed having a big lion fish cook out; we barely got enough for some nice lion fish tacos.
One bit of government policy isn’t helping; the Bahamas have marine parks and no take zones, and the ban on hunting in these areas includes the lion fish. We all noticed a larger population in these areas, which may support the theory that hunting is the primary reason the population is down elsewhere, but if an invasive species has a refuge zone we’ll never solve the problem.
Obviously this is an anecdote, not real data, but I’ll be interested if I start hearing similar reports from other areas.

I certainly saw fewer this year than last as well — but more when I went to areas that aren’t dived much. Which supports the theory that lionfish hunting/eating is having an impact. In other words, all is proceeding as I have foreseen.

MORE DELICIOUS INVASIVE SPECIES: Elks Make a Dangerous Comeback in Germany. “European elks are using their impressive swimming skills to cross the Oder River from Poland into Germany in search of new territory. But the long-legged giants, which can weigh up to 800 kilograms, are finding their ancient trails broken by busy roads. A motorist killed one on a highway near Berlin this weekend.”

SCIENCE: 17-year-old girl builds artificial ‘brain’ to detect breast cancer.

An artificial “brain” built by a 17-year-old whiz kid from Florida is able to accurately assess tissue samples for signs of breast cancer, providing more confidence to a minimally invasive procedure.

The cloud-based neural network took top prize in this year’s Google Science Fair.

“I taught the computer how to diagnose breast cancer,” Brittany Wenger, the Lakewood Ranch resident, told me today.

“And this is really important because currently the least invasive form of biopsy is actually the least conclusive, so a lot of doctors can’t use them.”

Wenger wanted to create a way for more doctors to use the minimally invasive procedure, called Fine Needle Aspirate, in order to ease the process of having lumps examined.

Of course, under ObamaCare this technology will only be available to the politically-connected.


I’ve written on this approach myself.

CHANGE: Commercial Fishing Returns to Lake Tahoe, to Combat an Invasive Species.

WHAT COULD BE YUMMIER? Python for dinner? 3 top local chefs to cook invasive species.

I approve of this approach.

SCIENCE: CALTECH RESEARCHERS DEVELOP TECHNIQUE TO FOCUS LIGHT INSIDE BIOLOGICAL TISSUE. “While the previous limit for how deep light could be focused was only about one millimeter, the Caltech team is now able to reach two and a half millimeters. And, in principle, their technique could focus light as much as a few inches into tissue. The technique is used much like a flashlight shining on the body’s interior, and may eventually provide researchers and doctors with a host of possible biomedical applications, such as a less invasive way of diagnosing and treating diseases.”

INVASIVE SPECIES UPDATE: Invasive species ride tsunami debris to US shore. “This is like arrows shot into the dark. Some of them could hit a mark.”

Let’s just hope that they’re delicious.


VARIOUS READERS HAVE ASKED FOR PICTURES FROM CAYMAN, but I didn’t take many on this trip. I’m writing a followup piece on my eating-invasive-species column, but I didn’t do a lot of general photography. But here’s the view from my hotel window:

SCIENCE: Novel compound halts tumor spread, improves brain cancer treatment in animal studies. “Treating invasive brain tumors with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation has improved clinical outcomes, but few patients survive longer than two years after diagnosis. The effectiveness of the treatment is limited by the tumor’s aggressive invasion of healthy brain tissue, which restricts chemotherapy access to the cancer cells and complicates surgical removal of the tumor. To address this challenge, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have designed a new treatment approach that appears to halt the spread of cancer cells into normal brain tissue in animal models. The researchers treated animals possessing an invasive tumor with a vesicle carrying a molecule called imipramine blue, followed by conventional doxorubicin chemotherapy. The tumors ceased their invasion of healthy tissue and the animals survived longer than animals treated with chemotherapy alone.”

CROSS-CULTURE: Chinese Fish For Meaning In U.S. Carp Rampage. “To understand why Chinese netizens have taken such an interest in the story, it’s absolutely essential to know that the most popular dinner-table fish in seafood-crazy China is carp, bar none. Thus, news of America’s carp problem doesn’t set off alarm — it makes Chinese mouths water. Add the fact that Chinese covet wild carp — an expensive treat compared to cheaper, more common farmed carp — and poetry ensues. . . . The dominant thread in the ongoing discussion is this: The Chinese people, and their voracious appetites, are the solution to America’s carp woes.”

Instead of an invasive-species problem, let’s think of it as a solution to the trade deficit! It’s just a bigger version of my lionfish solution.


The procedure: a few zaps to the balls with a high-frequency ultrasound and POOF! His swimming friends who threaten your womb with gestation disappear! Well, that’s what happened to male rats in a recently published study. After each rat had two ball-zapping treatments, researchers found that the rat’s sperm count was zero and its sperm-making germ cells were eradicated. (Yay! I think?)

Scientists believe these same results may possibly translate to men, but the risks and full effects of the treatment are still unclear. I am definitely a little confused. After we detonate our partner’s sperm and sperm-producing cells, are we supposed to resurrect them at a later date with a please-friendly-sperm-come-back-to-life incantation if we decide to have babies together?

Like I say, if it works in humans at all it sounds more like a non-invasive replacement for vasectomy.


During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus. A baby’s cells are detectable in his mother’s bloodstream as early as four weeks after conception, and a mother’s cells are detectable in her fetus by week 13. In the first trimester, one out of every fifty thousand cells in her body are from her baby-to-be (this is how some noninvasive prenatal tests check for genetic disorders). In the second and third trimesters, the count is up to one out of every thousand maternal cells. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 6 percent of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood plasma comes from the fetus. After birth, the mother’s fetal cell count plummets, but some stick around for the long haul. Those lingerers create their own lineages. Imagine colonies in the motherland.

Moms usually tolerate the invasion. This is why skin, organ, and bone marrow transplants between mother and child have a much higher success rate than between father and child. . . . It turns out that when fetal cells are good, they are very, very good. They may protect mothers from some forms of cancer. Fetal cells show up significantly more often in the breast tissue of women who don’t have breast cancer than in women who do (43 versus 14 percent). Why is this? Fetal cells are foreign to the mother because they contain DNA from the baby’s father. One theory is that this “otherness” stimulates the mother’s immune system just enough to help keep malignant cells in check. The more fetal cells there are in a woman’s body, the less active are autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. These conditions improve during pregnancy and for some time afterward — suggesting that the mother’s immune system is more focused on attacking the “other,” not herself. There’s also tantalizing evidence that fetal cells may offer the mother increased resistance to certain diseases, thanks to the presence of the father’s immune system genes. These are new weapons in the war chest.

Read the whole thing.

GPS SAVES THE WORLD, but who will save GPS?

The enemies threatening the future of the GPS are many:

Next-generation mobile broadband services angling for a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum relied on by GPS;
Cheap GPS jammers flooding the highways, thanks to consumers worried about invasive police and employer surveillance;
Cosmic events, like solar storms;
Future location technology that will ultimately push those services to places where GPS simply cannot go

“The results will be immediate and disastrous,” kicks off Stanford engineering professor Brad Parkinson, widely known as the father of GPS, while introducing the fifth annual Stanford University symposium on Position, Navigation and Time on Thursday.

Parkinson isn’t just presenting; he’s holding court. The renowned GPS pioneer and former combat airman is on a first-name basis with generals, and has taught the finer points of satellite location for decades. The audience contains a conspicuous number of his former students who have come from around the world to pay homage — many of them now among the world’s GPS elite. Throughout the day, he’ll interrupt speakers with questions from the floor, and each time be received with warm and universal deference.

Right now, though, he is hammering the FCC, and its tepid response to an influential rising mobile broadband player, Lightsquared, that may be threatening the integrity of GPS signals.

Yeah, but their political donations go to the right people.

THE HILL: TSA airport procedures divide lawmakers. “Some Democrats said that TSA was doing a great job, but Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said TSA’s controversial pat-down hand searches made her not look forward to flying. . . . McCaskill said not only have her experiences with TSA pat-downs been invasive, but they’ve also been inconvenient because she often has to wait for a female TSA officer to check her.”

EATING INVASIVE SPECIES: Making Chorizo Sausage With Asian Carp. “For the record, the Asian carp chorizo sausage that Liceaga cooked up this week had no fishy taste or bony texture — at least none that this reporter could detect.”

MY POPULAR MECHANICS COLUMN: Invasive Species Problem? Just Eat ‘Em! (Bumped).

LET THEM EAT CARP: Asian carp promoted in anti-hunger campaign. The reader who sent this was offended, but I actually favor eating invasive species. It’s the topic of my latest Popular Mechanics column, which is already out in the magazine, though not yet online.

EATING INVASIVE SPECIES: Recipes For Nutria And Feral Pigs.

JULIAN SANCHEZ: CONGRESS IS OUT TO SPY ON YOUR COMPUTER. “If Congress had to name laws honestly, it would be called the ‘Forcing Your Internet Provider to Spy On You Just In Case You’re a Criminal Act of 2011’ — a costly, invasive mandate that even the co-author of the Patriot Act, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), says ‘runs roughshod over the rights of people who use the Internet.'”