Xbox Surgery

THE surgeon enters the operating room, covered in sterile blue scrubs. Machines beep and hiss. Nurses wait, tools at the ready: scalpel, forceps, bandage, Xbox… Xbox?

A surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London began trials of a new device that uses an Xbox Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by waving his arms the surgeon can consult and sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation.

Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is paramount, but scrubbing in and out to scroll through scan images mid-operation can be time-consuming and break a surgeon’s concentration.

Depending on the type of surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. To avoid leaving the table, many surgeons rely on assistants to manipulate the computer for them, a distracting and sometimes frustrating process.

“Up until now, I’d been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out,” says Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who led the operation on May 8th to repair an aneurism in a patient’s aorta. With the Kinect, he says, “I had very intuitive control”.

Carrell used the system to look at a 3D model of a section of the abdominal aorta, captured on a CT scan. This was projected on to a 2D live image-feed of the operation site, taken with a fluoroscopic X-ray camera. So Carrell could see what was happening inside the patient, as well as using the 3D model to help navigate the twists, turns and branches of the aorta. He says he consulted the system four or five times during the 90-minute operation.

Being able to check the images easily also helps surgeons maintain their concentration throughout the procedure. “You’re just doing all of this stuff non-verbally and it just happens much more quickly. You’re maintaining the flow of what’s going on,” says Carrell.

But manipulating a “touchless” medical image-viewer in a room filled with surgeons, nurses, machines, trays, cables and lights poses challenges of its own.

“You usually think of Kinect in a game-like scenario where you can jump around and move your hands as wide as possible, but surgeons are not allowed to reach such a large area,” says Gerardo Gonzalez of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, who helped develop the system in conjunction with surgeons from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London.

So Gonzalez and colleagues developed a set of gestures that a surgeon can perform in a constrained space, while standing at the operating table. For the most common actions – rotating the 3D model or placing a marker on the image – the team designed one-handed gestures that combine with voice commands, leaving the other hand free for operating. To position a marker, for example, the surgeon simply points at the image to activate a cursor and says, “place marker”. Other functions, such as panning or zooming, require two hands.

Despite initial misgivings, Carrell is eager to continue working with the system. “I thought this was going to be a lot more awkward to start off with, but I was very pleased with the way it went today.”

Attribution: New Scientist

Birds of a Feather

by: the Common Constitutionalist

We all know the saying: “You can’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends.”

The other saying that comes to mind is, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

One must agree that both are absolutely true statements.

After a recent discussion on the topic of whether our President is a Marxist, anti-colonialist, like his dear old mom and dad, I decided to put together a short list of friends, acquaintances, mentors and those who influenced Barack Hussein Obama over the years.

While you scan this list, ask yourself; Is there even a single person within my sphere of influence that is a crook, a felon, a radical, a Marxist, a communist, a Maoist, a terrorist, an anarchist, a radical Muslim or even a socialist?

I hope, for most of us, the answer is no, but if you were Barack Obama, you would have to say Yes.

The List:

Barack Obama, Sr. (Marxist, anti-colonialist, polygamist)

Ann Dunham [ (Obama’s mother) marxist, socialist]

Anita Dunn (socialist, Maoist)

Tony Rezko (crook, felon)

Bill Ayers (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Bernadine Dorhn (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Louis Farrakhan (radical Muslim, murderer (or at least accessory for the killing of Malcolm X)

Saul Alinsky (radical, anarchist, Marxist)

Khalid Al-Mansour (radical Muslim, black separatist)

Susan L. Rosenberg (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Reverend Wright (radical black separatist)

Father Pfleger (radical, socialist)

Rashid Khalidi (radical Muslim)

Valerie Jarrett (socialist, Marxist)

Vernon Jarrett (communist)

Frank Marshall Davis (communist)

Van Jones (communist, radical)

  There are many, many more I could name, but this list should suffice in demonstrating just how “out of the mainstream” our dear President is.

I, myself, have a few friends that are liberal, but I believe that to be from ignorance. To remain friends, we don’t speak of politics. I know one person in my life that has spent time in prison. That’s about it. All the rest are basically of like mind, as are yours.

One cannot go through life surrounded by as many ne’er do wells as Obama has without becoming one himself. In my opinion, it’s impossible. Those who think it is possible are delusional.

So, look around at your friends, and then tell me I’m wrong.

Who Makes the Bed Anymore?

Hate making your bed in the morning? Now you don’t have to, thanks to an automated bed that does the job for you.

Spanish furniture maker OHEA says its new bed can make itself in just 50 seconds. The duvet is attached at the base of the bed, allowing robot arms to grab either side and straighten it out. Meanwhile, the pillows are stretched by internal cords and then lifted over the top of the duvet.

The bed works in both manual and automatic modes, with the latter switching on after the bed has been unoccupied for 3 seconds. There is also no need to worry about being permanently tucked in by while you sleep, as the bed is fitted with pressure sensors and will not begin to make itself if someone is on top.

He Was the Man

by: Nile Gardiner

June 12th marked the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s famous “tear down this wall” speech delivered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987. It is a reminder not only of President Reagan’s oratorical brilliance but also of his steadfast leadership on the world stage. For the Gipper was a president who, together with Margaret Thatcher, brought down the might of the Soviet Empire, liberated hundreds of millions from Communist tyranny and restored US leadership after the decline of the Carter years and the Vietnam era. Reagan was uncompromising in his opposition to the Soviet Union and his defense of freedom, driven by his belief in American exceptionalism and the unique role the United States must play in standing up to tyranny and advancing the cause of liberty.

For Ronald Reagan in 1987, West Berlin was the frontline in the war against Communism, a city the Russians had tried to strangle in 1948. He was determined to see the wall that divided Berlin’s three million inhabitants brought down, and the biggest symbol of Communist tyranny smashed to the ground. In his speech in Berlin, Reagan memorably declared:

“In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.”
…. “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Two decades later, for Barack Obama in 2008, Berlin was little more than a hubristic campaign stop where he could bask in the worship of adoring German youth en route to the White House, introducing himself as “a fellow citizen of the world.” A year into his presidency, he could not even be bothered to attend the city’s celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of the downfall of the Berlin Wall in 2009, which National Review Editor Rich Lowry appropriately described at the time as “the most telling nonevent of his presidency.”

In so many respects Reagan’s firm leadership in the 1980s towers over that of Barack Obama today. It would be hard to imagine President Obama delivering an address with the power and moral conviction of President Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech. While Obama has apologized for his nation, Reagan stood tall for American greatness. While Obama has sought accommodation with some of America’s key adversaries, Reagan vowed to defeat them. While Obama is cutting US defense spending, closing several US bases in Europe, and scaling back American global power, Reagan believed in peace through strength, and rebuilding America’s military might.

The people of Berlin and millions will always remember Ronald Reagan more across eastern and central Europe, as the steadfast leader who fought for their freedom and refused to back down in the face of a brutal enemy that had oppressed a continent for nearly half a century. It is thanks to his vision and determination that the Soviet Empire was brought to its knees. As his closest friend and ally Margaret Thatcher put it in her eulogy to Reagan at the Washington National Cathedral in 2004:

“Others prophesied the decline of the West. He inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom… With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today, the world – in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw and Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev, and in Moscow itself, the world mourns the passing of the great liberator and echoes his prayer: God bless America.”

Have a Brewski & Get Healthy

If you were planning on having a beer tonight, then this will be welcome news.

Beer may contain a vitamin which can fight obesity and improve muscle strength, scientists claim.

The ‘miracle molecule’, which has been found in milk and may also be present in beer and some foods, has no side effects and could even lengthen lifespan, they say.

The snag is that the molecule, called nicotinamide riboside (NR), is extremely small, difficult to find and expensive to synthesise.

Johnan Auwerx, head of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland, said experiments using mice revealed the molecule’s potential.

In an article in the specialist journal Cell Metabolism journal, Mr Auwerx called the results ‘impressive’.

“NR appears to play a role in preventing obesity,” said Mr Auwerx.

Working with Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, his team found mice on a high-fat diet that were fed NR gained significantly less weight – 60% – than mice eating the same diet without NR supplements.

And none of the NR-treated mice had indications that they were developing diabetes, unlike the untreated mice.

Mice which were fed NR supplements over a ten-week period had better endurance performance than those who were not.

They were also in better shape – and this was confirmed by observations of their muscle fibers under the microscope.

The molecule works by becoming trapped in cells where it boosts the metabolism, much like resveratrol, which is found in wine.

No side effects were discovered during the experiments.

“It really appears that cells use what they need when they need it, and the rest is set aside without being transformed into any kind of deleterious form,” said study author Carles Canto in a statement.

Mice who had been fed the molecule also performed better in endurance tests, as well as in tests measuring heat loss.

The researchers believe an increase in the molecule reflects an improvement in mitochondrial function, the part of the cell that supplies energy.

Mitochondria are thought to play a part in the aging process. It is hoped that by stimulating mitochondrial function with the NR molecule, scientists may see increases in longevity as well as other health improvements.

But the molecule is difficult to reproduce and extremely small. “At the moment, we can’t even measure its concentration in milk, so it’s impossible to know how much you would have to drink to be able to observe its effects,” Mr Auwerx added.

Research will continue with human testing at some point in the future.

Attribution: Mail Online

Honor Among Thieves

by: Michael Walsh

“Bill Clinton does not want Barack Obama to win,” says Dick Morris, and for once I agree with him. For Obama has made two fatal electoral mistakes during his tenure in office, both of which tell me he’s neither smart nor grateful, and certainly not wise in the ways of the criminal organization masquerading as the “Democratic party.”

As I’ve noted here (apropos of Wisconsin) and elsewhere, the best way to understand the modern Democrats is as the unholy love children of 1930s big-city political/gangster machines and 1960s Alinskyite Communists — now out and proud. But Obama, their chosen candidate, only had first-hand experience with the Alinsky crew; he’s too young to remember Tammany Hall and the heyday of the Daley Machine in Chicago. Oh, he’s got the brass-knuckles part down, all right (that’s part of Alinskyism), but he’s twice now violated the first rule of gangsterism: respect your elders.

That’s something that the Hot Springs–raised Clinton understands deep down in his bones. Bubba grew up in a town dominated by my gangster Owney Madden, was boyhood friends with the son of Madden’s lawyer, and often sat in Madden’s headquarters, the Southern Club on Central Avenue, watching the gangland greats come and go; to top it off, Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, was one of Madden’s nurses. “Bubbles” was an open, check-your-guns-at-the-door city, nominally run by its corrupt mayor, Leo McLaughlin, but, like Arkansas itself, completely controlled by Madden and his New York associates, including Frank Costello.

Insiders know there’s no love lost between the Clintons and Obama, and that — since revenge is a dish best eaten cold — it was only a matter of time before Billy would introduce Barry to the joys of payback. That moment is now upon us.

Further, Obama made a colossal error in giving Bill Daley the back of his hand during the Chicago scion’s brief tenure as White House chief of staff. It’s easy to see the clumsy hand of Obama’s Svengali, Valerie Jarrett, in the Daley firing, and it’s pretty clear that no one in the Emperor’s bunker thought through the consequences of insulting the Daleys, especially with former ally Rahm Emanuel now sitting in Hizzoner’s Chicago office. Remember, too, that Emanuel is a former Clintonite whose principal interest lies in old No. 1. The idea that Rahm would lift a finger to save Obama the instant he determines Barry’s toast, is ludicrous. With the big Walker win in Wisconsin, expect a chill wind to start blowing east from Chitown toward Washington.

There is, after all, honor among thieves.

The Wage War

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Last week some flaming liberals in the House of Representatives suggested that the national minimum wage be raised from $7.50 to $10 an hour. (Probably part of the 78-81 communists in the party).

Why stop there? Let’s make it $12, $15 or maybe $25 an hour? Why not? Who wouldn’t want to be paid more.

As I’ve just demonstrated, the $10 figure is purely arbitrary, but according to the Hill Online, representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and about two dozen other liberal Democrats endorsed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage immediately, thinking that this will be a hot election-year issue.

What a great idea! Once again Congress shows how out of touch they are with the business community. Of course the business community is not whom they wish to curry favor. Remember, they are for the working class, supposedly.

The Democrat leadership, however, has been a little less enthusiastic. It’s not that they don’t wish to raise the minimum wage. It’s that they wish to do it slowly, incrementally, so, like the frog, we don’t realize were being boiled alive.

The Politburo, or Democrat leadership if you like, would be more inclined to sign on to a proposal by Sen. Tom (dung heap) Harkin of Iowa. He proposes to gradually raise the rate to $9.80 over three years, but even this proposal has received scant attention from the leadership.

If you recall our beloved president issued a proclamation shortly after his 2008 victory that the minimum wage would be hiked to $9.50 an hour by 2011, but of course the compliant press would never dare call him on it.

Even the idiot consumer advocate Ralph Nader has weighed in on the subject. He said, “you get a conservative voter making eight bucks an hour at Walmart, here she is not going to say, I don’t want $10 and hour because I’m a conservative”.

No Ralph. I would hope that the people at Walmart and every person working would realize that these companies can’t just magically raise wages across the board. I would hope that the employee would say, “Hey, I’d rather make eight dollars an hour and be employed then the promise of $10 an hour and be laid off so the company could afford to pay the $10 an hour to all the other employees by using my paycheck”.

I know these are rhetorical questions, but do these dopes in Congress not understand anything about business? Have they never had to make a payroll? Have they never had to compete for business, maintain a minimum gross margin, had to lay someone off due to a down turn? Silly me. Of course not. When you can print money and deficit spend until after the cows come home, how could you know, or care.

These politicians don’t give a damn about the little guy. The little guy is who employs most Americans. The “Walmarts” of the world would be adversely affected, yes, but it really hurts the small business.

Issues that they never take into consideration are the difference between what an employee takes home in pay compared to his total compensation. Employers must pay for legally required worker benefits that include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, health and disability insurance benefits, and whatever paid leave benefits they offer, such as vacations, holidays and sick leave. It’s tempting to think of higher minimum wages as an anti-poverty weapon, but such an idea is ridiculous on it’s face. After all, if higher minimum wages could cure poverty, we could easily end worldwide poverty simply by telling poor nations to legislate higher minimum wages.

Poor people are not poor because of low wages. For the most part, they’re poor because of low productivity, and wages are connected to productivity. The effect of minimum wages is that of causing unemployment among low-skilled workers. If an employer must pay $10 an hour, plus mandates that might bring the employment cost of a worker to $14 or $15 an hour, does it pay him to hire a person who has the skills that permit him to produce only $8 worth of value per hour? Most employers would view hiring such a person as a losing economic proposition.

But, you say; are you heartless? Don’t these workers deserve a “Living Wage”? I could ask the same to those minimum wage advocates. Don’t you care about the workers?

The facts are that most studies of minimum wage laws in countries around the world show that fewer people are employed at artificially higher wage rates. Moreover, unemployment falls disproportionately on lower skilled workers, younger and inexperienced workers, and workers from minority groups. In other words, raise the wage rate & create greater unemployment.

A Cato Institute study cited data showing consistent job losses in places where local or regional “living wage” laws have been imposed. This should not be the least bit surprising. Making anything more expensive almost invariably leads to fewer purchases. That includes labor.

As imposed wage rates rise, so do job qualifications, so that less skilled or less experienced workers become “unemployable.” Think about it. Every one of us would be “unemployable” if our pay rates were raised high enough.

Attribution: Walter E Williams