Tuesday, August 15, 2017

p. cyanescens enzymes sequenced for possible large-scale production

Chemical and Engineering News | ‘Magic mushroom’ enzyme mystery solved
The euphoria and hallucinations induced from eating Psilocybe “magic mushrooms” have earned the fungi a cult following. Sandoz chemist Albert Hofmann isolated and determined the structure of psilocybin, the main ingredient in mushrooms that leads to the psychedelic effects, nearly 60 years ago. That discovery and subsequent mind-altering experiments by Harvard University psychologist Timothy F. Leary have left scientists longing to develop a large-scale synthesis of the compound for medical uses, which include treating anxiety and depression in terminal cancer patients and treating nicotine addiction. Yet no one has been able to unravel the enzymatic pathway the mushrooms use to make psilocybin, until now.
Janis Fricke, Felix Blei, and Dirk Hoffmeister of Friedrich Schiller University Jena have identified and characterized to the greatest extent so far the four enzymes that the mushrooms use to make psilocybin. The team then developed the first enzymatic synthesis of the compound, setting the stage for its possible commercial production (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201705489).

Monday, August 7, 2017

legal tactics using the ADA to protect neuroatypicals from college speech codes gone awry

Excerpted from Quillette | Mental Health Disabilities as Legal Superpowers
In an earlier article for Quillette.com, I outlined how campus speech codesdiscriminate against people who show various forms of ‘neurodiversity’ such as Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, or ADHD. I promised a follow-up article on how neurodivergent people might be able to use the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to fight these discriminatory speech codes at U.S. universities.
This is that follow-up article. I’ll get much more specific about what you can do, at your university, if you have a genuine diagnosable ‘mental disorder’, to advocate for your free speech rights. Mental disorders are highly stigmatized conditions, but they have a hidden upside: they can give you legal super-powers, including a surprisingly formidable set of rights under the ADA. If enough neurodivergent students, staff, and faculty use the ‘ADA strategy’ that I’ll suggest here, I think we can quickly eliminate most of the unconstitutional speech codes that suppress free inquiry and debate on American campuses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

eat your omega-3 fish oil!

Science Daily | Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its euphoric effects, but it also has anti-inflammatory benefits. A new study in animal tissue reveals the cascade of chemical reactions that convert omega-3 fatty acids into cannabinoids that have anti-inflammatory benefits -- but without the psychotropic high.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

the socially awkward are a protected class too... but lose us and you lose everything you define as human progress

Quillette | The Neurodiversity Case for Free Speech
Campus speech codes discriminate against neurodiversity. They impose unrealistic demands, fears, and stigma on the large proportion of students, staff, and faculty who have common mental disorders, or extremes on the Big Five personality traits, or transient disinhibition due to sleep deprivation or smart drugs. As a practical matter, it is virtually impossible for someone with Asperger’s, bipolar, ADHD, low Agreeableness, low Conscientiousness, extreme fatigue, or Modafinil mania to understand what kinds of speech acts are considered acceptable, and to inhibit the production of such speech 100% of the time, in 100% of educational and social situations.
In a future article, I’ll outline a legal strategy to use the ADA to eliminate campus speech codes that discriminate against neurodiversity.
For the moment, just consider this: every campus speech code and restrictive speech norm is a Sword of Damocles dangling above the head of every academic whose brain works a little differently. We feel the sharpness and the weight every day. After every class, meeting, blog, and tweet, we brace for the moral outrage, public shaming, witch hunts, and inquisitions that seem to hit our colleagues so unpredictably and unfairly. Like visitors from a past century or a foreign culture, we don’t understand which concepts are admissible in your Overton window, or which words are acceptable to your ears. We don’t understand your verbal and moral taboos. We can’t make sense of your double standards and logical inconsistencies. We don’t respect your assumption that empathizing should always take precedence over systematizing. Yet we know you have the power to hurt us for things we can’t help. So, we suffer relentless anxiety about our words, our thoughts, our social relationships, our reputations, and our careers.
That era is over. Neurodiversity is finding its voice and its confidence. People with mental disorders and eccentric personalities have rights too, and we will not be intimidated by your stigma and shaming. We will demand our rights under the ADA through the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and in federal district courts. We will educate administrators about the discriminatory side-effects of their bad policies. We will shatter your Swords of Damocles and raise our freak flags to fly over campuses around the world.
For centuries, academia has been a haven for neurodiversity – a true ‘safe space’ for eccentric thought and language, for thinking the unthinkable and saying the unsayable. We will make it that haven again, and there is nothing that university administrators can do to stop us. Everything is on our side: behavioral science, intellectual history, federal law, public opinion, and liberal academia’s own most sacred values of diversity and inclusivity. Neurodiversity is here to stay, and we will not be silenced any longer.
If the neurodiverse stand up for our free speech rights, campus speech codes will go extinct very quickly. In the future, they will be considered a weird historical curiosity of runaway virtue-signaling in early 21st-century American academia. The freedom to think eccentric thoughts and say eccentric things must be protected again. The freedom to be eccentric must be restored. Newton must be welcomed back to academia.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

stfu, of course it was

BBC | BA chief executive Alex Cruz says he will not resign and that flight disruption had nothing to do with cutting costs
He told the BBC a power surge, had "only lasted a few minutes", but the back-up system had not worked properly.
He said the IT failure was not due to technical staff being outsourced from the UK to India.

*programming* any ui is like pounding sand... good work for an ai

Silicon ANGLE | Startup uses AI to create programs from simple screenshots
Artificial intelligence is threatening worker’s jobs in dozens of different professions, from manufacturing and legal to banking and driving, and many more. Now, it’s time to add programming to that list.
A new neural network being built by a Danish startup called UIzard Technologies IVS has created an application that can transform raw designs of graphical user interfaces into actual source code that can be used to build them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

kunstler knocks another one outta the park

A most curious feature in the current low state of American politics is the delusional thinking at both ends of the political spectrum. Both factions have gone off the rails mentally, and the parties they represent race toward oblivion like Thelma and Louise in their beater car. More ominously, there are no new factions with a grip on reality even beginning to form anywhere in the background — as in the 1850s when the Whigs foundered and the party of Lincoln segued into power.
To see the Democrats go on about “Russian collusion” you would think we were watching a rerun of the John Birch Society in its heyday. Americans who have done business in Russia as private citizens are being persecuted as though they were trading with the enemy in wartime. Newsflash: we are not at war with Russia, which, by the way, is no longer the Soviet Union. It is one of many European countries that Americans are entitled to do business in — even in the case of General Mike Flynn accepting a $20,000 speaking fee from the RT news company. Has anyone noticed that Ben Bernanke routinely  takes $200,000-plus speaking fees in many foreign countries whose interests are not identical to ours and no one is persecuting him.
[Ed. - Please click the link above... this snippet is simply the opening teaser of his whole article]