Friday, March 31, 2006

Hard Face: Fair People

A US survey shows, perhaps surprisingly, that Americans are fairly evenly divided over the fate of illegal immigrants.

About one-third say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay permanently; about one-third say they should be granted only temporary worker status; and 27 per cent say they should be returned to their native countries.

71 percent favoured allowing the children of illegal immigrants to attend school.

The hard intolerant face of right-wing USA seems not to emanate from the people.

Source: NPR (National Public Radio)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Psychotherapy for Teachers and Ministers

Just another thought on those paedophiliac priests, posted below.

C G Jung proposed that teachers should go through psychotherapy before being let loose with their hangups and complexes on our children. Priests, too, eh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Next Hurricane

There are fears that the rich culture of New Orleans will never be recovered as reconstruction and clean up follows Katrina. Now there's a wave coming which will hit London and leave it cleaned up and culturally reduced.

Preparations for the Commonwealth games in Melbourne have obliterated, with grey paint, years of work of talented stencil artists, who have made graffiti a feature and attraction of the city. "Graffiti's not art," says the police minister Tim Holding, "it's vandalism and it's something we all deplore."

From The Guardian:
"The precedent set by Melbourne does not bode well for London in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics. The games will be set in east London, where Hackney is one of the few remaining parts of the city where affordable studio space for artists still exists. After the warehouses have been flattened by compulsory purchase orders, the pots of grey paint will be opened and an area rich in street culture and frontier spirit will disappear.

Melbourne and London are genuine epicentres of the skewed human touch that can bring a little sparkle into the drudgery of public space. A feat that is of immense value, despite its apparent worthlessness. And a feat that is not so easily achieved by trying to run around a track in under four minutes."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sativex and MS in the UK

GW Pharmaceuticals have released the results of their Phase III trials using the cannabis extract Sativex with 335 people with spasticity due to MS.

The company said multiple sclerosis patients who followed the trial’s protocols did benefit. But an analysis of all study participants - whether or not they complied to the protocol – found no statistically significant advantage compared with a placebo.

The low significance in the results for patients not complying with the protocol was not due to a lack of effect of Sativex, but to a larger than expected placebo response. Had the placebo response been the same as in GW’s previous completed Phase III spasticity study, the results for these patients would also have been statistically significant.

All patients in the study continued to take their existing best-available medication, so any improvements seen in the trial were obtained over and above currently available treatment.

Separately, a pooled analysis across the three Sativex MS spasticity studies now completed, incorporating a total of 652 patients, shows Sativex to be significantly superior to placebo.

Nevertheless, Sativex may earn earlier approval for its benefit in treating neuropathic pain: "Most consistently positive data we have seen previously has been in neuropathic pain, so we are certainly quietly optimistic," said the research and development director, Stephen Wright.

GW Pharmaceuticals
International Association for Cannabis as Medicine
The Guardian newspaper

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Where do you buy your electricity?

In today's UK Guardian newspaper:
"Police raided a cannabis factory and arrested seven people in London yesterday as part of a crackdown on criminal gangs involved in the multimillion-pound cultivation of the drug."

"Growing problem

· Scotland Yard has smashed 300 suburban cannabis factories in London in the past year

· The average factory may produce £70,000-worth of cannabis every 11 or 12 weeks - worth about £250,000-£300,000 a year

· Police are trying to track factories by getting electricity companies to check abnormally high power usage, although many growers bypass meters with 'jump boxes' or generators"

300 per year, each averaging £250,000, that's £75,000,000 per year. That's just London; and just the ones 'smashed' by police. And not counting resin. How many billions per year spent on dope does that represent? What a powerful market force. They say we vote with our money, and there it is.

Why do growers bypass the electricity meters? Well, obviously, to save cash; though, relative to income, it's not a chronic expense. No, there's an additional reason, mentioned above: electricity companies checking abnormally high power usage and reporting to the police. British Gas have turned grass (in the worst sense of the word). They have been leading the police to 'locations they have discovered'.

An investigator for the company said there were signs which alerted him to cannabis production before the door to a house was even opened.
"'The house will look run down and the curtains in every room are almost always closed,' said the investigator. 'They black the windows out, not just because they don't want people to see what they are doing, but to keep the temperature up.' *

He said domestic cannabis farms were being uncovered everywhere, from suburban housing estates and city flats to rural locations. 'I would say we are coming across more and more of them in premises,' he added.

Smell is another big giveaway. 'You can often smell it outside the house. They ventilate the excess hot air through 12 inch covings and, on a blustery day, the strong smell disappears into the stratosphere. But on a still day the smell lingers and there is a strong odour of cannabis outside.'

'It's nothing though to what it's like inside, where the smell would knock you out,' he added."
(*Why would anyone want to 'keep the temperature up' when they're burning hot lamps? - especially if they've got 'excess hot air'!)

'stratosphere'? 'knock you out'?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Time to Worry

An article in today's UK Guardian describes Chongqing, China, as the fastest-growing urban centre on the planet, with a population already bigger than that of Peru or Iraq, and half a million more arriving every year.

Speaking of the stressful effects of life in the city, Kuang Li, a psychologist, says psychological disorders are "a sign of improved quality of life. People did not have time to worry about themselves so much 10 years ago."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

'You are a child of the universe...'

Max Ehrmann's Desiderata.

I always found this good. Lines like, 'Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness' - that puts me to bed if I'm thinking down or mean thoughts; and 'Keep interested in your own career, however humble' - you try something else, for a change; it all goes belly up; you're broke; and you're saved by doing what you already know to do to earn; not to mention 'Avoid loud and agressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit'.

The words are below. If you want to see a typographically neater version, click here or on the image above.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life
keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

('desiderata' means things which are desired)

There is, or has been, a lot of confusion over the copyright for Desiderata. There's a site here discussing it and another here.

this page states that it is in the public domain. Anyway, this here is not for profit and many have testified to the help it's given them, so I'm sure the author wouldn't have minded this addition to the chances of someone seeing it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

'You may strive to be like them...'

"You may give your children your love
but not your thoughts,
for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday."

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Image © 2006 R deCinabre

Friday, March 10, 2006

Child Protection, Child Helpline, Child Abuse - Help for Kids

Here's a page with contact info for child helplines in a long list of countries.

If you can't find your country, I suggest you phone Child Helpline International and ask them. They are based in Holland; so, if you're not calling them from Holland, dial your country's International Direct Dialling code (mostly it's '00') then dial 31 20 528 96 27 (if you're in Holland, dial 020 528 96 27). Or you can e-mail them: click here.

Get this kids.

You and all other kids need to have a good life, as kids; then you can carry on and have a good full life as adults. That means no one's allowed to mess around with you. I mean, you've got a right to fair treatment, same as adults have that right. But more. As a child you need to be protected from some of the harder and harsher ways of the world, because you're not yet strong or fully developed or wary of danger: you're still learning. You have a right to a protected childhood with as much love as you can get.

When a child is badly treated that can affect their life as an adult, leaving them with bad memories and being afraid to trust people.

So, if an adult messes with or harshly treats you or anyone you know, check this website here for a phone number to call or an email address to write to. If you're not sure about things, just ask them: they'll be friendly.

Childhood is precious; don't let anyone mess with yours.

Thanks to Jesse of the North for the Child Helpline International link.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In the Name of God

A study by the archdiocese of Dublin reveals that more than 100 of its priests have faced paedophile accusations since 1940. This involves more than 350 children. The archdiocese of Dublin is the leading one of four Provinces of the Catholic Church on the island. And that's just Ireland.

If you've read James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, you'll know something of the mind techniques that would have been worked on these children. The preacher teaches the young:
"He founded it upon the rock of ages, and endowed it with His grace, with sacraments and sacrifice, and promised that if men would obey the word of His church they would still enter into eternal life; but if, after all that had been done for them, they still persisted in their wickedness, there remained for them an eternity of torment: hell."

"There, by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a blessed saint, saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it."
...and on like that, getting far, far worse; sixteen pages describing the hell waiting for sinners. Better do as you're told kids.

Here's some numbers -
UK Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000
Canada Kids help phoneline, toll free: 1-800-668-6868

Check this site here for a list of child helplines for other countries.

Still, I guess a large number of those priests will now know:
"The horror of this strait and dark prison is increased by its awful stench. All the filth of the world, all the offal and scum of the world, we are told, shall run there as to a vast reeking sewer when the terrible conflagration of the last day has purged the world."
A whistle blows. "OK, lunch break over. Back on your heads."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

God and Allah will judge

Tony Blair has said on the Parkinson show that God and history will eventually judge his decision to go to war with Iraq. He says his decision, like much of his policymaking, was underpinned by his Christian faith.

I don't think this is good enough. He wasn't elected by God; he was elected by the public. He is responsible to, and is to be judged by, the public. Must we simply have faith in him, or should he not give us good (and true) reasons for his decisions?

Remember Tony's deep and abiding faith in WMD? We know history's judgement on that!

Anyway, on a lighter and more peace-making note, in the same interview Mr Blair recalls the first time he had a proper chat with his new father-in-law, the actor Tony Booth:
"We were in our house, and obviously I'd met him before - but I hadn't really had a proper chat with him. He says, 'Do you mind if I light a joint?' And I thought, 'this is my father-in-law, it should be the other way round.' So I said no."
(I guess 'no' means 'no, I don't mind if you light a joint' - just don't bogart it!)

I was thinking - have you seen the new research on passive dope smoking? Apparently it can lead to psychosis - with symptoms like 'having ideas and beliefs that others do not share'.

Also, what is the penalty for allowing your premises to be used for the consumption of cannabis? (I've just checked with TalktoFrank. I quote: "Allowing people to take cannabis in your house or any other premises is illegal." - only two years max now, thanks to David Blunkett.)

Moans: Seems it's one law for some fathers-in-law and another law for others!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Cheering of the Prisoners of Dachau

Here's one for holocaust deniers and blinkered fantasists with warped minds and big sticks.

Martha Gellhorn, famously honest reporter and writer of the last century was there when Dachau concentration camp was liberated:
"In their joy to be free, and longing to see their friends who had come at last, many prisoners rushed to the fence and died electrocuted; there were those who died cheering, because the effort of happiness was more than their bodies could endure; there were those who died because now they had food, and they ate before they could be stopped, and it killed them."
You can hear her report in this obituary called 'All Things Considered'.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

David Irving

Having posted the above, and seeing its relevance to David Irving's case, I thought I'd have a look at what he's written to see if he convinces me.

Reading extracts from his writings, one quickly sees his sympathy for Hitler, who he is quick to exonerate with any new evidence he can find. He seems equally quick to knock Churchill down with any evidence he can find to do that.

Commenting on reception to his book 'Hitler's War', Irving closes with this highlighted paragraph:
"The matter of profoundest regret to me is that nearly all the reviewers have caught on to my refutation of the most durable legend about Hitler - his involvement in the liquidation of the Six Million - and overlooked the far more serious question* raised by the body of the book: what on earth were we, the British, doing to fight this man after June 1940, when as we now find to be true he at no time posed a real threat to the British Empire or the British Isles? When we research at Hitler's own level, from 1933 right through to 1945, there is not a scrap of evidence to the contrary."
This reminded me of a day in Weston-Super-Mare some years ago. I spent the afternoon at a table outside the Harbour inn drinking many pints of beer with an eighty-year old German man called Günther. He had been a prisoner of war and had stayed in Britain afterwards. We got on extremely well. During the conversation he explained with some feeling that he could not understand why the British had fought Germany. Günther believed that Hitler would not have attacked Britain: that he wanted friendship.

I could see why Günther would not understand.
However, I would have thought that David Irving would know.
I do.

If you don't, then, for a start, make friends with people from Holland, France, Belgium, Poland or another occupied country, and see what they think. Next, consider whether you would trust any human in a position of absolute power, with a mobilised military and a proven will to aggression, extolling racial purity, being hailed by followers as 'The Leader' and having carried out seven years of intensifying persecution of a resident minority. Marvel Comics wouldn't buy it. If such a one is looking for 'Lebensraum' (living space) you best watch your arse.

* "...the far more serious question..." What an insight into David Irving's mind.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Old Clichés from the Young

I came across a recent post full of the same old cannabis clichés. I was surprised to find it was by an 18-year old (who you'd think would know better about these matters); and saddened, but not too surprised to find it was by a budding politician.

The post leads off like this:
"72% of Criminals use Cannabis...
A few days ago, the Government published a report revealing that more than 7 out of 10 teenage criminals have smoked cannabis every day for the last 12 months. Not only does this show that cannabis use is on the rise, but also that solid evidence is emerging between use of the drug, and crime rates."

I believe the writer is implying that these figures are proof that smoking cannabis leads to crime. I suggest it is more likely that both crime and cannabis are used by the offenders to relieve their insufficiently rewarding lives. They probably drink, too.

More clichés in the post:
1. "Since New Labour re-classified the drug in 2004, youths have turned their attention to cannabis (including the super strength version known as 'skunk'), and as a result, drug related crimes have increased further each year."

2. "Youths (who have now formed addictions to cannabis) turn to crime to fund their purchasing of the drug..."

3. "since its re-classification, police are not even allowed to caution youths for possession of the drug anymore"

4. "simply because of one simple reason...drugs are addictive."
Easily-found information on the above points:

1. "The slow decline in cannabis use since 1998 has been sustained following reclassification and there is no evidence at present of any short-term increase in consumption among young people since reclassification." Further consideration of the classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: Report of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Dec 2005.
Minister Caroline Flint said new crime survey figures also showed that fears for a rise in cannabis use among young people were "wholly unfounded."
Year on year figures from the Independent Drugs Monitoring Unit.

2. According to the US Institute of Medicine (IOM), fewer than one in 10 cannabis smokers become regular users of the drug, and most voluntarily cease their use after 34 years of age. Source: Norml New Zealand.
"In general cannabis users smoke fewer cigarettes per day than tobacco smokers and most give up in their 30s,..." states the 2002 report of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: 'The classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971'.

3. "when police officers find someone in possession of cannabis they're still required to record this as a crime" from BBC Cannabis and the law page.

4, as 2 above. This is the same false generalisation as that made by Captain Walter Elliott in Parliament in 1969 at the reception of the Wootton Committee's report on Cannabis (see post below: "a bunch of trendies").

Also note:

A study
for the all-party science and technology select committee today questions the way the government classifies illegal drugs; they report: "The theory that cannabis use acted as a 'gateway' to more serious drugs had not been proven despite extensive research."