Sunday, September 18, 2011

Relationships and recreational pills

I went to cheerleader practice the other day, and I heard some of the parents having a discussion about a friend's marriage.

I'm pretty vocal about my views of America's War on Drugs, and prohibition.  I'm sure that many people who see my posts about such things just smirk and think, "He just wants to get high".  I won't lie, if it were legal to buy weed, I would.  But that is seriously the LEAST of it.  There are a couple of beers in my fridge, and half a bottle of tequila right now, they haven't moved since last year.  The tequila was left there by the X, who's been gone for nearly two years!

Prescription drug abuse now causes more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined! Marijuana isn't included in the statistic, because marijuana is not toxic, and does not cause death, at any dosage.

According to the LA TIMES, illicit and prescription drugs now cause more deaths annually than automobiles.

"The rise in deaths corresponds with doctors prescribing more painkillers and anti-anxiety medications. The number of prescriptions for the strongest pain pills filled at California pharmacies, for instance, increased more than 43% since 2007 — and the doses grew by even more, nearly 50%, according to a review of prescribing data collected by the state."

"Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicadin and Soma lead the pack. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine."

In my research on the matter, I've found articles and talked to many people whose relationships had and SSRI med as a key player in the demise of those relationships, with one spouse wholly unaware of the true side effect of their Other's recreational pill habit.  I once was asked to try a Xanax, and it made me sleepy.  I couldn't understand what anyone saw in them, and never thought about it much after that.  As it turns out, it helps a lot of people, but a select few it makes them very hard to get along with, or murderous, in some cases.

I'm sure people think I honk this anti-prohibition horn too loudly and too often, but drug use has touched my life from an early age. My oldest brother was kicked out of the house for smoking weed!  OMG.  This relegation of drug distribution to the black market is wrecking the lives of far too many people. I don't want my kids raised up in this system of shame, punishment, ignorance and rhetoric that sent me off into life half-aware, unprepared and ignorant of something that was potentially so destructive.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

putting Special Creation behind us

I often wonder about the God and the universe, really I do.

I have come to believe that something will be discovered that explains the origin of the universe. I don't ascribe to the Big Bang Theory, because I think there is another, natural explanation that science is yet to discover. Because the universe doesn't just pop into being... but that's my opinion.

But assuming current models are the best we have to work with, I find myself accepting that the "Big Bang" is the best I've heard from the Science side. The Universe is expanding, and eventually all matter will evaporate into space... and there will be "nothing" again. And presumably, another Bang.

But many people believe that God made everything, in some cases, only 6,000 years ago. My understanding of the Universe and my layman hillbilly's understanding of scientific discoveries tells me this is not so. I was at the river today, and the bluffs have layered, sedimentary rock formations which require millions of years to form. Corals can be seen in the stone that were deposited many millions of years ago.

Once Believers thought the Earth was the Center of the Universe. People were burned alive by the Church over this point of disagreement... but eventually, Science won the day, and now we know we're in a solar system, on the outer spiral arm of a star-formation, orbiting a supermassive black hole, the spiral galaxy we call the Milky Way. We also know that our galaxy has hundreds of millions of other stars in it, and that beyond our galaxy, there are more galaxies in the Universe than there are stars within our own galaxy.  We're so small, and insignificant that we don't even deserve to be noticed by any truly advanced species from another star, let alone be the ultimate creation of a God.

So the religious people of this century are going to have to be brave, and acquiesce that the universe really is Billions of years old. And that there is something to this Evolution stuff, the proof is in every cell of our own bodies.

It is so incredibly difficult for me to imagine that a being who was capable of creating all of the Universe, would then worry about whether or not I'm checking out my neighbor's wife?  Why make all that vast creation, magically in the middle of things?  Just to  leave the illusion of the existence of the passage of over 13 trillion years according to Physics and Astronomy? Why is there a fossil record to further cause us to doubt...

And why would an infinitely wise being, after creating all those other stars, and worlds, more worlds capable of supporting human life than there are grains of sand on a beach, then go over to one planet in particular. Way out in the boondocks, of a mediocre galaxy, in the middle of nowhere in the Known Universe. And then hunker down, to watch a single species of primates. Why would bring into being a host of  very tall fairies with bird wings to help him keep a tally of their wrongdoings, and tell them how to behave. Why the Devil to trick the people into breaking the rules, so they would burn eternally.  Why would He watch them kill one another over books, and imaginary lines on the ground, and skin color. And judge them and torture them eternally for temporary transgressions?

It's as if the rules are set up to make sure to punish as many people as possible. not only did he start the Universe with 13 trillion years on the clock, leaving behind all the physical evidence necessary to not believe in him. But he watched as thousands of different religions sprang up, and some having "moral" teachings that gave them "reasons" to rob, kill, steal, torture and enslave other people who don't believe in their holy book. Only one of the books is True.  The rest of them, if you believe the lies in them, you'll be tortured forever for being so stupid as to believe in the wrong one.

I simply cannot imagine this to be true. If there is a God, all he did was make some stuff and some rules and he spirited away to his next project, or he's watching the whole universe to see what happens, in a scientific, dispassionate way. Like the zoologist watching lions eat a zebra alive.

I find it infinitely more likely though, that there is a natural explanation, that Science has yet to discover, that will someday tell us where all the stuff came from. My personal theory is that it's always been there, in one form or another.  But one thing must happen for us to do this. Everyone needs to accept that the Sun is the center of our solar system, and that life happens all over the Universe, and IF there is a God out there, he's not watching us to judge our behavior or interested in tricking us into believing the wrong interpretation of the wrong book, or origin of the universe or life, so he can torture us for ever and ever, amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Science, love and wonder

I'm one to ask "big questions" like, what is Love, for example. I have put quite a deal of thought into it, as it has run through my life like a bull in china shop. The path of destruction some of my partners have left still aren't cleaned up completely.  I thoroughly enjoy deep contemplation, and discussion about such things too.  It's one of the passions in my life.  When my marriage disintegrated and my family became fragmented, I found myself needing to understand why people behave the way they do, and I went looking for some answers.  I have come to understand that we're merely the most social and talkative of the social primates, and I'm becoming something of an amateur primatologist.In my discussions with people about "being human" I often hear people who feel that understanding love as a biochemical process robs it of it's wonder. I don't feel that it does at all.  I have felt love, in small doses since I came to this understanding, and to be honest, I have appreciated it more now that I understand better, what's happening.  It's a difficult thing to explain though.  The "feelings" are the same, whether you think they're some mystical energy that moves through you, or whether you think they are caused by hormones and neurotransmitters.

Take sunrises for example. My natural god-given eyesight isn't all that great at a distance. But through the wonders of science, I can get glasses. I can see the sunrise much clearer, and in far greater detail, thanks to science.

Do the glasses make my experience of the sunrise a lesser experience or greater?

If I were to reason that understanding the science of love ruins the experience of love, and then extrapolate that back to the sunrise, the sunrise would look less magnificent to me, than it does to someone who doesn't need glasses, who is ignorant of the properties of the electromagnetic spectrum, who has no comprehension of the atmospheric affects on light which cause the color shifts of our star's light, when it is low on the horizon. Also, modern man, with his understanding of the Sun, as a star, about which the Earth orbits, and spins on it's axis, would have a reduced experience of the sunrise, than an ancient man, ignorant of the science of a sunrise, who thought it was a god, in a chariot.

A "bio-mechanical" understanding of being "human" doesn't change anything about life other than the words you use to describe it.  A shade tree mechanic who can't read, and doesn't know the names of the parts, can still fix a car as surely as a certified mechanic.

Being a primate is no different than being a human, it's merely more humble, you cease to be a special creation of mystical forces, and become a special creation of the forces of nature. It's different words for the same thing.  The difference between them is that with science and primatology you understand why things are this way, with "mysticism" you see it as more artistic. If you paint a picture with a paint-by-numbers approach, or whether you do it freehand, given a high enough resolution, you wind up with the same picture.

I'll never be a special creation again, I'm simply a talking primate. I have one life here on Earth and I can guarantee you one thing, If I ever "execute my love subroutine" again, I won't be riding the wave like some teenage surfer who doesn't know what causes the waves.  I will enjoy it more deeply, and more thoroughly, than people who refuse to see science as science, and insist on being something magical, rather than accepting the fact they are simply a talking ape.  I'll be aware of my shortcomings, where they will see the unknown. I cannot see how admitting that Love is a biochemical reaction with the evolutionary purpose of causing deep attachment in order to preserve the species, makes it any less "magical" of a feeling when you're feeling it.  In fact, to me, it makes it far more incredible and wondrous, that it is the way it is, created by ancient, evolutionary forces, than if it were "poofed" into being by some invisible magic man, a few thousand years ago.

Do you think the oceanographer who specializes in wave formation enjoys surfing any less than a teenage pothead? Understanding the formation of waves versus "feeling them" doesn't make surfing any less fun.  I've done the love thing as a "stoner" high on neurochemicals and riding the waves without understanding what caused them, or when they were going to end, several times now, and they all ended poorly.  I don't want to waste the next time on chance and magical notions.

If being "truly a man" means returning to an understanding of life where I have to be something better than the rest of the critters on my planet, with a magical spark in me that defies explanation, then I'm afraid I'll simply be an ape for the rest of my time here.  And I'm perfectly content with that situation.  If there is one thing my 45 years have taught me, it's that there is nothing special about me. I'm made from the same stardust as everything else around me, and that's special enough for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black History Month

Once again we find ourselves in February. It's been designated as "Black History" month since 1976. Before that we had Negro History Week, as far back as 1926, according to my cursory research.

Over the course of my lifetime I've gone from white trash trailer park kid raised by a father who by most measurements would be considered a bigot. There was only two things he liked less than the black race, Jews and Taxes. However, he was a "good man" on the inside, he was just raised in an age, and environment that left him with poisonous beliefs. It didn't help matters much that his holy book also had enough racial material in it to "back up his beliefs".

I never could get in on being a racist full bore, though I must confess that I took on enough of the behavior and language to avoid ridicule from my peers and family. But as I grew older, and matured, and lived my own life, I gathered my own data, and observed things with my own eyes. And I find myself today literally unable to be racist. I may have a touch of "culturist" to me, but I understand it's the environment that creates people who behave poorly, in groups, not human instinct.

I have come to another point, just recently. I was watching some History Channel stuff this month and also having Facebook and Topix discussions concerning such things as religion, evolution, race and others, and it dawned on me, now that I accept evolution, and now that I accept that my distant ancestors came out of Africa, it dawned on me that MY ancestors are black, if I go far enough back down my ancestral lineage.

So in honor of Black History Month, I'd like to proudly proclaim my personal pride in my own black heritage. All of us have evolved from common ancestry, and we are all family.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Abortion Discussion (revisited)

I have often found myself discussing abortion over the years. I've never had a conventional view on the subject. I've never fallen in line with a "democratic" or "republican" party line on the issue.

I mean, what about non-consensual sex, resulting in pregnancy? How does this fit into "every fertilized egg is a life" or "it's a woman's right to choose" First off, you don't want to bring incestuous offspring into the gene pool. It isn't good. I say in this instance, perhaps even late term, with extenuating circumstances.

Or, what if the child has a detectable, severe mental handicap, or physical one. What about congenital diseases that make for very short, uncomfortable lives? Perhaps after we can cure these things, it will become a moot point, but until then, it's a valid consideration when bringing a new life into the world.

On the other side of the coin, at what point does it become immoral to "kill a child"? After a month, you can't tell it's human yet. Two months into the deal, and you can tell it's at least a primate, and since it has no hair, you'd guess it's human. But by the time you get into month three, there is no mistaking that tiny being as anything but human.

Fingers, toes, eyes, mouth, tongue, ears, brain... it's all there by the beginning of the 12th week, or 3 months roughly. At this stage, I have to start siding with the "conservatives". Unless you didn't know you were pregnant, if you let it go this far, and there isn't anything wrong with the "fetus"...

At that point, I don't know whether or not it's "moral" do abort a child anymore. Before this point, it goes from weeks 1-4, it's just some cells, to weeks 5-8, hey that looks kinda weird, around week 9 it starts looking ape-like, and by week 12, THAT'S A BABY! But still, it's only human in physiology at this point. It's brain is not very developed at all, probably less complicated than a rat's brain even.

(on left is 8 week old is web-fingered and legless; on right is 12 week old, with legs and regular fingers and toes)

A recent study has pegged a new milestone though. At week 20, or so, the brain starts going through cycles that are very similar to ones that occur in the adult brain. At this stage, I'm saying it IS a human and to willfully end a viable child at this point should be considered murder, unless there are extenuating circumstances. And then we have another milestone at week 22, that's the youngest preemie to survive incubator care.

Brain cells start sending signals early

Just because you don't WANT it isn't good enough reason. Not to be crude, but if it wasn't non-consensual, you should have not been having vaginal intercourse if you weren't ready for a child.

Breast Cancer Cure ?

Schedule 1 drugs are those drugs which have "no medical use". In this group we have things that used to be prescribed, by doctors, before the "government" made them illegal. Heroin used to be over the counter, if you can believe that. But when it was, people didn't go to the dentist to get pain pills, they just stopped by the pharmacy on the way home, and got some, then made an appointment to see the dentist the next day, or they had some in the medicine cabinet. Cocaine was the same way, some cocaine powder rubbed across the gum ends pain rather quickly... and keeps you up all night.

But the pill companies found out ways to make synthetic versions of these things, and they needed a way to get the old, patentable stuff off the market.... so they lobbied congress. Would you believe that the top three contributors to the Partnership for a Drug Free America are the Alcohol, Tobacco and Pharmaceutical industries?

Marijuana may turn out to be the most insidious member of the Schedule 1 list. "Recent" studies are indicating that marijuana KILLS CANCER.

Marijuana Kills Breast Cancer - NBC News

Marijuana Kills Brain Cancer

Cured: A Cannabis Story (A film by David Triplett)

I call it "recent" because scientists have had an inkling of this fact for nearly 40 years, but legal studies could not be made because of marijuana's Schedule 1 status. As early as 1974 active ingredients of marijuana were shown to kill cancer tumors. KILL them! Recently the American Medical Association has recommended that marijuana be given a green light for research.

Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures (including epilepsy), severe or persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)., the list of maladies that the ingredients of "weed" helps is rather lengthy. Let's be honest, if the plant were discovered tomorrow, every producer of medicines on the planet would be scrambling to synthesize the active compounds. But it's illegal status prevents any research.

I can't help but wonder how much longer this can go on. Currently 25% of Americans have access to medical marijuana, there are 20 states with pending legalization and medical laws... hopefully, sooner than later, people's lives are hanging in the balance.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stupid Compact Florescent Bulbs!

Another comment from FB turned into a blog entry....

@Donna, we would just need to be more responsible "adults" than we are now. We'd have to actually take those pesky dead CFL's back to the store, and the stores should have a box for them to be taken for recycling. I know that's such a tremendous bother, to have to put a light bulb in a bag, and haul the insufferable thing all the way back to Wal-Mart and drop it in a box by the door. And I can't imagine all the hassle it would cause for Wal-Mart to have an employee move the box to the back of the store at the end of the day. And the Garbage Corporations, bless their poor souls, they would actually have to BUY A TRUCK and HIRE some moron who was only smart enough to drive a truck and pick up garbage, not a worthy, college educated person. And they'd have then find some way to get that truck full of light bulbs to a DANG RECYCLING PLANT, those immense wastes of private corporation time! And they'd have to do the unthinkable, dole out some more precious money to some more igorant morons who just aren't smart enough to do anything better than change broken light bulbs back into working light bulbs... That would be such an immeasureable waste of our time.

Instead we should keep using incandescent bulbs. I mean, let's just use some math and illustrate how stupid this whole thing is. A 100watt light bulb is used for on average 10hours a day let's say.

100 watts time ten hours works out to 100w times 10 hours times 365 days.... that's (calculator helps) but it's kinda no brainer if you write it out 100x10x365 and realize that "converting to kilowatts from watts is just dividing by 1000. We get a measly 365 kilowatts a year. That's all! at a national average of about twelve cents 365 kilowatts only costs around 45 dollars a year. So what!

How much could a stupid CFL that costs like $5 compete with a bulb that only costs 50 cents? That's a no brainer too right? I mean, how long does a CFL last anyway, on average like 8,000 hours, and a regular incandescent bulb lasts 2,000. So one CFL only lasts as long as 4 quality regular bulbs! that's .50 x 4 = $2

so if a CFL is twice as expensive as the same light Incandescent when we take life of the bulb into account!

That means that the CFL would have to use $22.5 electricity just to break even!

so let's do the math for the stupid, environment polluting CFL! the old technolgy is totally going to KICK BUTT. GO Edison! WOOOO yeah babay.

let's see, to get a light equivilent for a 100w bulb we need at 23watt CFL.... well, i see some easy math. that's 23%. So 23% of 45 is $11. So the CFL Actually saves money. Well dang, they're so inconvenient that it's worth the $11 not to have to make a bunch of jobs or be troubled with not just tossing them in the trash!

Not to mention that mercury in the CFL when you chunk it in the trash! I mean what are the leading causes of mercury in America after all. A 23w CFL has a whopping 2 milligrams EACH. And there is no way I'm going to be inconvenienced with all the trouble of taking it BACK to Wal Mart. And I don't see any reason to create a bunch of jobs handling all the stupid bulbs that would be work that was beneath Americans anyway, we'd wind up having to hire a bunch of economic refugees from the Depression in Mexico so we wouldn't have to give the ignorant Americans who couldn't go to college those low jobs. If we hire Americans, they'd have to give them HEALTH INSURANCE... Jesus! What's next, poor people don't need that stuff, they're just a step above a friggin Mexican right?

I mean how much mercury does an incandescent bulb have, ZERO!!! Am I right?

And how much mercury is in the coal we use to make the electricity? Approximately 0.0234 mg of mercury—plus carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—releases into the air per 1 kwh of electricity that a coal-fired power plant generates. That's all. So that hundred watt bulb using coal for energy only causes .0234mg times 365kw for a year, which is..... calculator

uh oh.....

that works out to 8.5mg of mercury in the environment!!! That's crazy talk, I better check the math again.

... nope, it's right. But we have to take into account the CFL's mercury from the coal... don't want to be unfair! 23% of 365 times .0234mg mercury... that's 1.964 grams of Mercury, plus the two in the bulb! So that's ... well dang. CFL wins again! I'm starting to feel stupid.

so not only does the CFL save $11 a year, it puts half the mercury in the ecosystem, and it would put a quarter as much if I could just be bothered with returning the bulbs where i bought them so they could be gathered up.

I'm not just being facetious here. I went through this mental exercise about 6 years ago, when I switched every bulb in my house to CFLs. Since then I've only had 7 bulbs burn out, and they're all sitting in a box, waiting for me to responsibly dispose of them.

They actually last far longer than 8,000 hours, and most incandescent bulbs last far less than 2,500 hours, so my math in this example is heavily skewed IN FAVOR of incandescent bulbs.

That said, LED's are the true solution to the problem. No mercury in them, and they use only 1/10th what an incandescent uses! They cost 30+ dollars at the moment, which won't be so bad when they iron out all the bugs and get the to last the 50,000 hours they're shooting for. At 50,000 hours life, compared to an average 2000 for an incandescent bulb, and using 1/10th the electricity, they could literally cost $70 each and we would break even.

Changing our ways is never easy. We as a species are resistant to change, it's one of the things that has helped us survive, but it's also been one of the things that has caused a lot of problems. Neither the Jews or the Romans wanted to listen to Christ, and we all know what problems that caused, because people didn't want to change.

We have to responsibly think about these things and take the whole picture into account. Making judgments about things as trivial as light bulbs based on emotion and not reason can not only be detrimental to our bank accounts, but our environment as well.

I guarantee you the electric companies, and the coal companies want you to keep using incandescent bulbs!