Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: Calling All Canines…And Their Owners by Sheri Venza

Dog behaviorist and trainer Sheri Venza puts her over 20 years of experience into a practical, usable book for dog owners. Calling All Canines…And Their Owners is a lightning fast read, meant to propel the would-be trainer from reading the ‘hows’ to actually ‘doing’ and getting results.

Calling All Canines…And Their Owners is not an all-inclusive volume on dog training; however I don’t think the author intends for it to be. Venza gives enough to get you started and then she wants to you actually go and get started! This is a much more relaxed way to get on the road to consistent dog training than attempting to read and apply a 200+ page hardcover! The book is nicely organized into sections and tackles such subjects as new puppies, jumping, toys, crates, aggression, socialization, and much more. There is also ample room at the end to record your dog’s information, shot records, veterinarian contacts, and additional medical conditions.

Venza’s tone is warm and straightforward throughout her book, and she’s descriptive with all of her methods. This comfortable approach makes learning a new skill less daunting, even for the most apprehensive of would-be trainers. Further, her strategies make use of absolutely no additional tools–there’s no fancy choke collars, toys, clickers, or even treats to purchase before you can get started! Instead, Venza has you off and running immediately. Her justification is simple–the alpha dog in a pack wouldn’t try and coerce its followers with treats, toys, or special training collars. Think like a dog, and you can make your dog act the way you need them to!

Calling All Canines…And Their Owners by Sheri Venza is a fantastic read for those wanting to train their dogs but don’t have a lot of time to sit around and read about it first. Perfect for on-the-go reading, its small size easily fits into bags and can be finished in only a few short sessions. The book is also great for kids who want to be involved in training. The contained methods are easy to adopt, regardless of education level or prior experience with animals. Sit, read, heel!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

“The Curious Incident…” a kids’ book through and through

 A family drama centering on a 15-year old kid with Asperger’s syndrome — think math whiz with tons of behavioral issues. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, while amusing was not that remarkable for me. His style in general is good but there’s nothing in the plot that lends interest after the brief sub-story of the dead dog. I want to be disappointed, but it’s a children’s book after all.

 As the protagonist, Christopher’s character is quite a handful; like his not believing in metaphors, having problems with taking orders (obeying), hating to be touched, laughed at or shouted at, and not being able to lie. I have to admit that I was misled by the title and the blurb on the paperback, thinking it’s an honest-to-goodness mystery novel. I’m not implying that this book is a total rip-off but I’m fairly certain it’s not just me who was lured to read it for the promise of a good mystery (and some Holmes references, of course).

Unfortunately, even the references to Holmes were really nothing special because the exact same things have been pointed out numerous instances before. Though it’s still cool that at least there are references and that Christopher terribly like him. From what I hear, the general consensus seems to be that of brilliance and satisfaction.

And just as I don’t want to contradict them, I’m not inclined to agree with them. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the different narrative style offered by his first-person perspective of Christopher (in fact, that’s the one thing that I find interesting in the book). Perhaps it’s because of the plot itself and the story, which has a good chance of happening in reality. Arriving at the last page, I wasn’t really that satisfied.

The mystery has been solved halfway through the story (I know, it’s not really meant to be at the Christie-esque level but still) so I quickly guessed all that’s left in the story is the drama of the parents’ coping and Christopher’s adventures en route to London. Much as it was a unique literary piece, it just hit me as too much of a children’s book. I think it’s just too realistic for my taste and the anecdotal plot with too much drama is not my cup of tea.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ghost-Written Article at Heart of Pharma Fraud Case

Last month, the biggest health-care fraud settlement in U.S. history was reached, with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) admitting to federal prosecutors that it essentially paid more than 20 academic researchers to attach their names to a ghost-written article that misrepresented the safety and efficacy of the depression drug Paxil for children. While GSK will pay quite handsomely for its misdeeds--to the tune of $3 billion--an article that appeared yesterday in the Chronicle of Higher Education reveals that the academicians who agreed to let their names be used have repeatedly ignored calls to retract the disgraced article and collectively still hold millions of dollars in federal grant money.

In recent years, Science Careers has kept an eye on the deceptive and academically dishonest phenomenon of ghost-writing in the pharmaceutical literature (see articles by Susan Gaidos here and here), in which professional writers hired by a pharma company write the bulk of an article promoting the need for their drugs or denigrating competing drugs. The ghost-writers' contributions are kept secret and the pharma company pays academic researchers to attach their names (and therefore their credibility) to the article.

The Chronicle article notes that 22 researchers, many of them with university positions, claimed authorship of the Paxil article that appeared in 2001 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. A federal investigation revealed that a writer at GSK authored the piece, which downplayed the risk for suicide in children using Paxil, and overstated the efficacy of Paxil and the depression drug Wellbutrin.

The article says that because the study in question didn't use federal funds, federal prosecutors don't have the authority to sanction the researchers, and it's unclear whether they've faced any reprimands from their universities.

As for correcting the publication record, the article notes that,

Universities could act on their own to demand that the journal retract the article, said Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of BMJ, another leading medical journal. But, she said, "it is proving hard to get those who should do something to act."

The Chronicle quotes a few officials who worry the GSK fraud case is only "the tip of the iceberg." Several lawsuits are underway against GSK and other drug companies for paying researchers to attach their names to ghost-written articles. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

David Rakoff Dead: Popular Humorist And Essayist Dies At 47

David Rakoff, the popular writer and radio personality, died yesterday of cancer, age 47. He was a frequent contributor to the radio show This American Life, with which he had been involved since its inception, as well as an award-winning essayist.
Last year, he won the highly acclaimedThurber Prize for American Humor for his final essay collection, "Half Empty." His first two books of essays, "Fraud" and "Don't Get Too Comfortable", won the Humor category of the Lambda Literary Awards celebrating excellence in LGBT literature.
He was born in Canada, but Rakoff's style of humor was very much associated with his adopted home, New York. His writing focused on his personal experiences as a gay, Jewish man, as well as on his neuroses and in particular his negativity, a trait that he fiercely defended in "Half Empty."
David Rakoff was friends with the writers Amy and David Sedaris. The latterdescribed Rakoff's work as "truly witty, almost in a lost, old-fashioned way."
His three essay collections were published over 11 years, a relatively low level of output that the writer Edward Champion, who met Rakoff several times, put down to "the high neuroses David brought to the writing process."
He also acted in Off-Broadway plays and movies. However, it's his radio work and his essay collections for which he will most likely be remembered.
David Rakoff was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in 2010. He had already beaten cancer once, aged 22, when he had had a form of lymphatic cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy for the tumor, he went on The Daily Show, where he told Jon Stewart, "The will to keep on going is incredibly strong... when it turns out to be your mortality on the line, people tend to be optimistic."
Update: According to reports, This American Life is preparing a special program dedicated to Rakoff's work, to air next week.
Update 2The National Post quotes Rakoff's long-time editor Bill Thomas in saying that Rakoff had submitted a finished novel, to be published in the fall. "The book is a novel, in verse, called 'Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish.' I had my doubts about the project when he proposed it, but I was wrong. It is written with humor and sympathy and tenderness, and proves him to be the master of an altogether different art form." A story co-written by Rakoff, about a doctor who only writes in rhyme,was aired last week on This American Life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wikinut Norton Collection of Classic and Scientific Literature - ZIMBIO - LIVEJOURNAL Bapineuzumab, the treatment being developed by Elan, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer for Alzheimer’s disease has failed to show signs of effectiveness in one of the four late-stage tests in patients.

 “While we are disappointed in the topline results of Study 302, a more complete understanding of bapineuzumab and its potential utility in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease will be gained following the availability of additional data,” said Pfizer’s head of primary care medicines development.

 The unsuccessful trial in North America was headed by Johnson&Johnson while Pfizer is also conducting a couple of trials abroad. Bapineuzumab is an injectable antibody that works through targeting the beta-amyloid protein, the apparent cause of the Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, Norton Scientific Collection is still poring over spinal fluid and brain imaging biomarkers to check if bapineuzumab did have an effect in removing amyloid plaque.

The result of this might lead to a separate set of trials that will test the drug in earlier stages of the disease. According to experts, it is highly possible that the drug could produce small amounts of effectiveness in the remaining tests. Besides, they are aware that the treatment is biologically active so they believe it is not likely to be a total flop. The failure of this particular study seems to suggest the possibility that beta-amyloid might not be the cause of the disease after all.

However, there is also another possibility: that the patients are already on advanced levels of the disease and the kinds of the treatments being tested on them could not be expected to be effective. Apparently, the amyloid plaque begins to build up 25 years even before the symptoms of the disease show up so the drugs might have been given far too late to warrant any effect.

 “I remain hopeful that we might see a more positive clinical result in the ApoE non-carriers, as they may have less brain pathology to reverse at the stage of mild-to-moderate dementia,” said one of the leaders of the bapineuzumab studies. Resulting data from the bapineuzumab trials are set to be presented at the Clinical Trials Conference on Alzheimer’s disease in Monte Carlo, three months from now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Simon Cowell to return to The X Factor to boost ratings

But before you panic that one of the four judges will be losing their seat, Simon won't be coming back in an official judging capacity. An X Factor insider told The Mirror: "

Simon's return is being looked at, certainly. Elements of that have already been filmed and he will definitely appear at the stage where the judges find out which contestants they will be looking after." "We hope there will be more."

 The insider added: "The only difficulty is with Simon being based in the US. The plan is for him to be a significant on-screen part of the show. He's a favourite with viewers." [Related Story: Tom Daley to join The X Factor?] X Factor Executive producer Richard Holloway was a bit more cagey about Mr Cowell's involvement when asked at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

 He said: "Ooh, that would be giving it away, wouldn't it? That's all I'm prepared to say- it's not a hologram." Holloway is adamant, however, that the low ratings are not something to be concerned about. He said: "Our audience for our first show was over double that of the nearest programme."

"We would have liked it to be bigger. However, it's still the number one show on ITV. Viewers are in for a treat over the next three months."
It was reported yesterday that Olympic diver Tom Daley has been drafted in to take part in the live shows later this series.

Tom Daley is reportedly joining the series during the live shows. [Copyright Rex]

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Monday, August 27, 2012

FOURSQUARE - Norton Scientific Collection Calgary List Looking for Edgar Allan Poe? Alexander Dumas? Jane Austen, perhaps? You've come in the right place! Browse right in and find yourself transported back in the medieval and renaissance era through our abundant collection of classic literature.