Thursday, April 3, 2008



Our whole economic system is imaginary. When you start buying and selling things that are so far divorced from reality as derivatives of derivatives of derivatives in intricately interlocking webs of ownership that are intentionally designed so that no one really knows who owns what, a disaster is always lurking just around the corner. Of course since most of the world's wealth is imaginary at this point, I don't see why a rescue using imaginary funds should be very difficult. The Fed has been waving its magic wand around ever since our currency went off the gold standard. Let it keep waving hard enough and maybe the base problem (that the American public keeps on spending more that it produces by way of those amazing little plastic cards and easy car loans) can be swept under the rug with one of Mickey's magic brooms.


- I don't know about SF, but too many cyclists around here behave like jerks. The lycra louts with racing bikes are the worst, most often avoiding the bicycle lanes created for them, and acting with complete disregard for pedestrians and other road users. It seems they think their choice of exercise machine confers some sort of moral superiority. I think bicycles are great, but I have come to loathe the people who ride them.

- When I bike and make every effort to obey driving laws, if I must ride on the side walk, I go at prevailing pedestrian speed and call warnings if I'm coming up behind people. Just a little courtesy goes a long way. I get so angry with the fools who bike like maniacs. They make car drivers hate all bicyclists. Which makes the roads less safe for all.

When I drive, I've had so many near misses with bicyclists who ride off the sidewalk wildly, run stop signs and red lights, ride against traffic, bike at night in dark clothing on a bike without reflectors or lights, and do other similar foolish maneuvers that I'm not surprised how many bicyclists are hurt or killed. Don't they realize when it's car vs. bike, the bike will lose.

Car drivers need more awarenss and education about how to interact with bikes, but until the idiots who bike like crazies understand they are putting other biyclists in danger, and start riding safely, car drivers will not be inclined to improve.

- About cyclists "often avoiding the bicycle lanes created for them" -- one possible reason is that the bike lanes or paths don't go where the cyclist wants or needs to go. It's great to suggest that riders keep to the facilities specifically created for them, but the simple fact is that there is not anywhere near a sufficient network of such facilities to be practical much of the time, especially if you ride for transportation.

Also, with regard to drivers not being able to interact safely with "a bicyclist they cannot see", they also cannot interact safely with bicyclists they do not look for. I agree that many riders do not make themselves visible enough, especially at night, but I also know I have had motorists look right through me when I was wearing bright yellow or orange clothing in broad daylight on a clear straight road with no visual distractions.

And speaking of distractions, many of the collisions I read about in papers or online seem to involve a motorist "not seeing" a cyclist when they were busy text messaging or reaching for something in their back seat or on their cell phone. I have to wonder how many of the other incidents where it's decided to be the cyclist's fault were actually the result of distracted driving.


- I don't disagree with what Mr. Nader says. What I find problematic, is that he only says these things once every four years.

Mr. Nader, to my knowledge doesn't factor into the progressive movement at any other time. He doesn't try to build a grass roots organization, he supports no progressive candidates, he conducts no town hall meetings, he doesn't do the grunt work necessary to change anything. In fact, as I see it, he doesn't do much of anything but write articles for progressive publications, and/or websites.

Then - Boom! Mr. Nader announces, on television, in January or February of an election year, "I'm running for President." The rest of the election cycle, there is a deafening silence from Mr. Nader. He and Hillary Clinton are a lot alike. Both are determined to be a candidate "or else."


- It is that kind of United States exceptionalism that is the problem. Beyond the hype, people must realize the United States is not a special place. It is a country, like any other, albeit more powerful, but morally, ethically and practically it isn't a magical place where good is more likely to happen. The United States has poverty like other countries, it has crime, it has human rights violations, it has misery, and it has lots and lots of bullshit. Americans excel at being full of shit. When Americans realize this and stop trying to sugar coat their shit-hole country then they can make real change happen.

- You mean the United States, of course. It's America from Ellesmere Island to Tierra del Fuego.

- In reality, I think the U.S. (government) does preach what it practices. We teach and export torture at the notorious School of the Americas (its current name notwithstanding). We preach environmental destruction through the proliferation of genetically modified foods, shunning of the Kyoto Treaty, denial of global warming, promotion of NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO. We preach consumption over conservation. We preach the acceptability of international state terrorism and lawlessness. We preach racism and intolerance against those living in occupied Palestine. And occupied Iraq. And occupied Afghanistan. And so on. Actions speak louder than words. "My country, right or wrong" has the enabling cry of dictators and oppression for centuries.

Part of the point of the piece was distinguish America from its government.


- Why was there so little attention paid to the Mitt Romney silence on the long history of racism in the Mormon church? Practically no coverage was given to the fact that the LDS refused to admit African Americans to the clergy until 1978, and Romney said nothing. Did anyone demand that he leave the church and denounce the elders who supported this policy? Did anyone demand that he denounce that history of racism?


The FBI and CIA have used a piece of software known as PROMIS to track bank accounts and stock trades. Even though this software was in place long before 9/11, the government claims it cannot track down those connected to billions of dollars of insider trading in the days before 9/11, yet it can nail Spitzer on a few $5000 transactions.


- What I've read here is all unfound rhetoric and conjecture. Without solid facts and proof of all that is written here, the whole article is just words and phrases. I hear the thoughts and wishes of the article's author. What could actually take place legally without proof of all these accusations stated in this article? Without proof of all of this you can't get the case pass the courthouse front door steps. The American people can't pivot their voting decisions on unverified accusations. I'm not saying the article isn't true, what I am saying is anyone can write an article with conjectured information. The voting public needs more to digest as far as proof. We can't settle for a political party that we don't want based on unfounded articles. What is at state here is four years of a desired president. We just need proof of what is being projected here. - Ray


- What kills me about the Bosnia lies are two things:

The first lady of the United States would never, ever, ever, ever be allowed to enter a live-fire zone. If there was a possibility she might have been shot, she never would have been allowed to go.

If she did think she was entering such a dangerous situation, how in the world could she have allowed her daughter to go with her and risk facing death? Judgment? Ready on day one? - Robbie


- How nice to let the people protest only as Bush is leaving.


- Does that mean the US military is also an "undesignated terrorist organization" for having twice fought and having successfully overthrown the Sadaam Hussein government of Iraq?


- Well good god, I would sure hope they protest. "Oh, hello there officer friendly, come on in and ruin my kid's life. Care for a cup of coffee?" What's so obnoxious is the way it is being advertised-that the cops are doing this to help. The Boston police have been ever so helpful to people of color over the years.

- I'm thinking it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for parents to search their own kids' rooms if they are concerned about them having illegal items.

- Would I let police search my place? No, but I have no problem with them asking. Citizens are responsible for knowing their rights. I imagine there is a counter-movement afoot to make sure people know they can turn the police away. Great! So a illegal guns are confiscated and the public learns about rights. Sounds like a win-win to me. - Mr. Anthrope


- I think ANSWER is still protesting, and they've been there from the start. The fault lies with UFPJ. They're run by Democrats and they really helped to split up the anti-war movement. I'm sure Obama and Clinton will both disappoint everyone in their handling of the Iraq situation. The question is, how much worse will McCain make things?

- Ron Paul would have immediately recalled all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, freed all nonviolent drug offenders, and closed all U.S. overseas basis. Thanks to Sam, we know Paul wasn't progressive enough.


- The wartime spending that "stimulates the economy" also represents a huge chunk of borrowed money adding to the national debt. A burden for our children and grandchildren to pay off through higher taxes and inflation in the future.

The weapons either sit in storage until they become obsolete and are junked (which costs money to do) or used in war where they are destroyed. In neither case so these expensive devices create products that we can sell to bring more money into the system.

When too much money is dead ended in weapons, too little remains in general circulation to support the society and the infrastructure on which it depends. The economy and that society stutter to a halt, after having suffered through cheapened roads, cheapened schools, cheapened hospitals, etc.

The USSR collapsed when military spending choked the life out of their economy. Why the US Government persists in making the same mistake is a mystery

- Not really, the wealthy elite, represented by the Bush crime syndicate, have made the very cynical decision that they are perfectly willing to sink the American economy just so long as the lifeboats they create for themselves in so doing are luxury yachts.


- It's not just supermax prisons: this describes conditions in many county jails as well.


- What broke the back of the Depression wasn't the New Deal, it was the end of Prohibition. Saint FDR's socialist attacks on the constitution and Bill of Rights did a lot of damage to the Republic, but ending the nightmare of illegal booze was one thing he could be proud of.


- God said, "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.…To you it will be for meat." … An And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:29-31) If you believe in God, legalize it!.


- There exists such thing as a libertarian left. - Peter


- Leave aside the breakage issue. How much does the amount of energy required to for people to take used-up CFLs in their automobiles to a special waste site negate the energy saved from the CFL itself?

- Let's see: incandescent bulbs last 1-2 years maybe, and CFL's last 5-7 years using one-quarter the energy. I'd say that probably covers the costs involved in finding a "special site" Also, for the people who wouldn't break a CFL bulb by changing it, do this: get a small box you can put spent CFL bulbs in. After you gone through say 10 bulbs in 60 years, you can make a trip to a waste facility. CFL bulbs have a lot of potential for hazards, but I think the cost/benefit will be on the plus side.

- Bachmann states a concern for safety, yet she fails to recognize that fluorescent bulbs have been used in schools, businesses, and homes for decades yet she is not advocating eliminating their use. Also, XBULB offers a CFL bulb that does not contain mercury. More importantly, while Bachmann advocates consumers have a choice, she fails to recognize that the market is already moving to phase out conventional light bulbs.

- Compact fluorescents are a stop-gap measure - eventually light-emitting diode bulb technology will produce a bulb durable enough, in the same color and color spectrum values - and here is the main sticking point - with a powerful enough intensity - to match the best incandescents and fluorescents. LED bulbs consume very little energy and last even longer than compact fluorescents. They are now found only flashlights and in larger sizes, in very expensive specialty applications like traffic signs and lights. In the meanwhile, it is important to realize the compact fluorescents, especially in their most popular form, generate much less heat therefore pose much less fire hazard. - Louis


- This incident is beyond the pale. Those people should be fired. What the hell is a person supposed to do with nipple rings to incite a terrorist attack?


- Almost half the population may indeed be mentally ill. One of those halves voted for Bush (or Kerry) last time. - xilii

- I am inclined to discount - if not to dismiss - articles like this, since I worked as a psychiatric social worker for several years, and I have had occasion to work on regular hospital psychiatric wards. As far as I can tell from former professional experience and my current reading of cultural trends, there is no doubt that American civilization is far more pathogenic in the year 2008 than it was even in the 1950s (when hundreds of millions of tranquilizers were sold) and the 1960s (when anti-depressants came into general use).

It is true, however, that we in the west have symptomatic medicine whose basic precept appears to be "get rid of the symptoms." The pill industry of the pharmaceutical companies plays to this non-holistic approach to restoring people to health. We are certainly an overmedicated population.

The action of all important psychoactive drugs is unknown, and will remain so for another 50 to 100 years at the current rate at which brain science is advancing, even considering the help it is getting from recent technological advances in experimental apparatus, like finely controlled brain scans which have been introduced in the last two decades.

Finally, a quarter century ago it was noticed that we are an over-lawyered society. Back then we became, with the possible exception of one or two other nations, the country with the highest number of attorneys per capita of any culture on earth. It would have been unusual even in the early 1970s to find full-page display ads in a local phone directory for tort lawyers who make an industry suing for money settlements. Now, such ads are a major source for ad revenues for such directories.

But try this: take a yellow pages and see if you can find an ad for a doctor - one who is not a cosmetic or eye surgeon - which is as large as the largest ads for the tort or criminal lawyers. If you do, very likely it won't be for a psychiatrist or a psychopharmacologist or a psychiatric treatment group. The field is among the most underpaid and - today - the least prestigious in medicine - because psychiatry doesn't involve invasive action (e.g. surgery, the most glamorous specialty) by an M.D.

The point here is that while people may be encouraged to seek out a psychiatric or psychopharmacological specialist in times of distress by a friend, or by a regular doctor's referral, or by pharmaceutical commercial they see on television, they won't likely be propagandized into doing so by such specialists themselves, as in the case of a lawyer you might hire to gain a financial settlement in a tort lawsuit.

It seems to me also that there is still a strong stigma of being a weakling or a "loser" (the worst American failing) which still deters people from seeking help for depression, severe anxiety or any other condition covered by DSM IV, or by such seemingly trivial diagnostic tags as "body dysmorphic disorder" or "agoraphobia" - conditions which can not only make people feel so horrible that they may debilitated (if not disabled) and may want to seek a healer's help. I honestly don't think that most people seek out such help, in other words, because they are hypochondriacs seeking mollycoddling, as this and other articles seem to imply.

- This is not true. Much of the action of modern psychoactive drugs is known, but is also very complex. Each drug has a different action. Various SSRIs affect different combinations of serotonin receptors. MAOIs inhibit the breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Antipsychotics such as Zyprexa work on combinations of neurotransmitters. Your statement should read: action of all important psychoactive drugs is not fully known.

One seldom mentioned fact about SSRI antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft is that they slow the mind's brain wave rate. Brain waves are the average firing rate of the brain's neurons, and slow brain waves, below a certain threshold, correspond to being asleep. Many long-term SSRI patients, particularly those on high SSRI doses, are literally sleepwalking. When the mind's brain waves fall below a certain threshold, the brain's judgment center is bypassed. At that point, irrational impulses suicidal tendencies and "rampage killings" become more likely in patients taking SSRIs.

SSRIs are no longer recommended for most people under 18, primarily due to increased risk of suicide. Children do not yet have the fully-developed judgment capabilities adults have, and are thus more prone to suicide due to brain waves slowed down by SSRIs. Many people also require increasing doses of SSRIs for the antidepressant affect to work. At some point, the antidepressant affect may no longer be working, resulting in a depressed patient who is literally sleepwalking, and you have a potential suicide case waiting to happen.

- It's absurd and dangerous to tell a person who may be severely depressed - suffering from any other life-threatening or debilitating psychiatric illness - that psychoactive drugs are inherently toxic - or will invariably turn a person into a sleepwalking zombie inclined to become suicidal or go on a rampage of murderous behavior. I know from intimate personal contacts of two cases where people have been similarly "advised" in which both committed suicide - needlessly. In one case, the relatives sent a severely depressed woman to a naturopathic quack doctor in Texas instead of to a clinic at a major local New York City university teaching hospital I had recommended. This woman then killed herself - needlessly. She threw herself off of the roof of a parking garage of a hospital in Hackensack New Jersey where she had been treated for the autoimune disease which had brought on the depression.

- There are two things that can be done to more effectively treat people when prescribing psychoactive drugs. One would be regularly monitoring brain wave activity for unhealthy levels. The second would be to make use of inexpensive neurotransmitter tests, which test levels in urine and saliva.

Unqualified people with M.D.s can prescribe these powerful medicines. Biochemically-based depression may be a result of low serotonin, low dopamine, low thyroid activity, or other hormonal imbalances, and in some cases, combinations of such imbalances. Testing neurotransmitter and hormone levels before prescribing drugs takes much of the guesswork out of the picture, and helps physicians select the most appropriate psychoactive drug, if needed.

Sadly, depression can end up in suicide, regardless of whether one is being treated at a well-known clinic or university hospital or not. And there are nutritional therapies that have undergone scientific testing as rigorous, or even more rigorous than big pharma's prescription happy pills. One such branch of medicine is called orthomolecular medicine. Not all naturopathic and nutritional therapies are worthless. There are quack doctors in both the naturopathic and licensed medical fields.


- Sweden's new guidelines for the treatment of cats and dogs are excellent. The U.S. could use them as a model for the treatment of human inmates in American prisons and, for that matter, the rest of its citizens, whatever their socioeconomic status. The Swedes probably didn't think to include specifics guidelines forbidding animal abuse, which we Americans could apply to the tortured prisoners at Guantanamo and CIA blacksites worldwide.--David Devine, Paris, France


- That woman traveler is a complete idiot/sicko who had already abused herself much more than the TSA could ever do. Wonder if she cried when she got her nipples pierced? Wonder why she decided to do something as stupid at that? As you can tell, I have no sympathy for a nut like that. - BBF, Minneapolis, MN


- Between this and his views on Israel and Venezuela, the choice is clear: I'm not going to be voting.


Gosh, those dirty darned Republicans sure did a bad thing by single-handedly deregulating the banking industry. If there had been a Democrat like Clinton in the White House in 1999, this could never have happened. Oh wait. . . - Chris Collins


- Well raise your wages, El Cheapo, and you'll find all sorts of people willing to work. Northeast PA isn't exactly NYC or southern California. It's not like the place has an extraordinarily high prevailing wage. -xinhoj

- "Though Eckel's tomato pickers made an average of $16.59 per hour last year, he said the relatively high wage is not enough to attract local labor to work the fields." - San Francisco Chronicle

- Most Americans are just not interested in working outdoors in the heat and dirt 12 or more hours a day during picking season. It doesn't matter what the wages are. The few who try give up after a few days. Scaring immigrants away like the entire blue collar class wants to is self-defeating and stupid.


- My take is that the corporate-owned media is fulfilling its role perfectly. It promotes and maintains the myth that the Democratic Party actually represents a true opposition party to the Republicans. In reality, both are owned by corporate money and corporate interests, especially interests of the military-industrial complex, and both political parties will continue today's criminal militaristic policies abroad. The media maintains the myth of American exceptionalism in the face of torture, wars-for-lies, and unfolding economic collapse. It's a myth that has allowed two corporate-owned political parties to monopolize politics in the USA for decades.


- There's a good reason John Edwards is still on the fence. He is angling for the vice-presidential nomination. Obama will certainly be the Democrat's choice for president - and for Hillary to be his vice-presidential candidate would mean a ticket with two people from northern states. The nomination of Jimmy Carter for president (initiated by David Rockefeller, via the Tri-Lateral Commission) signaled that the nation's power elite recognized that the states of the former Confederacy were becoming the new political economic and political epicenter of the United States. They only enlarged their role in these respects since. (To many southerners, the upper Midwest counts as the north). Moreover, both these candidates have been backed from the start by megabucks from hedge fund centimillionaires and Wall Street .

With Edwards as vice-president, the Democrats would be able to balance an Obama ticket using a southern politician who knows how to present a populist rhetoric (without any real policy substance) whose demonstrated charisma would appeal to the states of the American South and, as well, states on its periphery, extending to the west and southwest.

- As they might say here in the South, the Democrats are fixing to blow it again. Maybe Edwards thinks so, too, and is angling for his presidential bid in 2012. That being the case, it makes perfect sense that he would want to distance himself from the fiasco that is likely to occur.


Statins as a whole are a sham, and a very profitable one at that for Big Pharma. The studies are managed by the industry and the results inflated by a chosen method of tabulation that exaggerates their effectiveness. Worse yet, as is being revealed by the Vytorin study, the underlying assumptions about why Statins work at all are almost certainly false. They are based on the lipid hypothesis of heart disease, a hypothesis which is now roughly 30 years old and has never been proven. What's bothering doctors is that they have bought into this theory hook, line and sinker and there is an embarrassment afoot for them as the theory is now becoming untenable. The emerging theory about heart disease is that it is caused by inflammation and it is possible that simple aspirin will have similar protective effects to the much more expensive and lucrative (for Big Pharma) statins.


"Rocky" should stay in the race. Never mind that she is paying lawyers to contest conventions in Texas, and she can't pay people who did work for her in New Hampshire. Never mind that she is running on fumes. Never mind that her totally "vetted" past has not been, and Bosnia caught up with her on YouTube.

She should stay, until the Clintonistas (including Carville) have had their appetites completely filled of all that Mrs. Clinton is. Until all the "feminists" are totally satisfied that she is not being bullied by "the good ol' boys." Or, until Bill gets caught in Hooters. Or until somebody points out to Chelsea that what happened with Monica Lewinsky, when her father was a "public servant" is not a "private family matter." Whichever comes first.

There is not now, nor will there ever be the perfect political candidate. Especially not one running for President of the United States. We will, until one by one, we change, from the bottom up, the candidates we have to choose from. That process has begun. We can only hope it will continue.


- Criticism of DSM defined conditions is to be included as a particularly pernicious sociopathic behavior that will not wait for the new edition of the DSM, but will be added on an emergency basis.


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