Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Taking a break from the disjointed why bad water thread, I'm once again inspired by a post of Fred's which links to this article. The article claims, "As Carl V. Phillips, an epidemiologist at the University of Alberta, has shown, evidence points to a low risk of health hazards stemming from smokeless-tobacco use." I was unable to locate any study of the health risks of smokeless-tobacco (ST) by Carl Phillips, but I did find this study where Mr. Phillips and colleagues show that information found through google searches "...overstates the health risks from ST relative to cigarettes." I also discovered that Phillips received a $1.5 million grant from US Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) to study smokeless Tobacco. Mr. Phillips defends the grant in this article. Here is a link to the complete article. If you can't access it and wish to read it, email me and I'll send you a copy.

So here's this guy, Phillips, advocating for harm reduction approach to curbing tobacco use. His study titled, "You might as well smoke; the misleading and harmful public message about smokeless tobacco" consisted of doing a google search and showing that anti tobacco sites give ST a bad rap. His conclusion:

Conclusion: Through these websites, and presumably other information provided by the same government, advocacy, and educational organizations, ST users are told, in effect, that they might as well switch to smoking if they like it a bit more. Smokers and policy makers are told there is no potential for harm reduction. These messages are clearly false and likely harmful, representing violations of ethical standards.

While it is apparently true that chewing tobacco has less risk involved than smoking it, Phillips is a component in a propaganda machine. It doesn't have to be false to be propaganda. The method and language of this study lack the dispassionate approach of science, and contain the manipulative language of propaganda. I especially detest "...ST users are told, in effect, that they might as well switch to smoking..." by throwing in the phrase "in effect" Phillips has avoided a bald faced lie. Instead, he's presented a masked lie. Phillips is claiming that because anti tobacco websites, and "...presumably other information provided by the same...organizations..." claim that ST is as bad as cigarettes, therefore they are encouraging people to smoke, and are guilty of "violations of ethical standards."

Phillips acceptance and defense of $1.5 million to conduct research on smokeless tobacco gives glimpses into the workings of the machine. "Phillips said that criticizing the source of funding usually comes down to observers not liking the results of a study, and having no grounds to condemn it on its merits. 'I think that the whole funding question is a huge distraction from actual real work,' Phillips said." (Source) In the same article he also states, "...research is almost never driven by funding from any particular side." Show of blog hands: how many of you agree with that? And what is this "real work" Mr. Phillips? Is the real work creating a market friendly to USSTC products by providing them with studies that downplay the risks of chewing tobacco that they can use in both overt and covert advertising?

What I'm curious about is did Phillips take his promote ST stance, and then USSTC rewarded him, or was there collusion before the fact? Harm reduction is a valid approach, much more appropriate than the usual total abstinence approach for those who are never going to quit the risky behavior. Perhaps Phillips was making public statements in favor of harm reduction for tobacco campaigns, and agents from USSTC made contact with him and cultivated him into a engine they can harness to further their attempts to promote their ST products. That is what UTSCC is up to. They want to create and sell products, and are funding research they can use to manipulate public opinion into accepting their product. The machine grinds on and Phillips is either a dupe, a willing battery, or most likely, a combination of both.

I didn't read all this article on research funding and conflicts of interest yet, but thought I'd include it on the delusional belief that somebody is actually a) reading my blogs (not just skimming them) b) is capable of reading that many pages, and c) is interested in such things.

I finished the reasearch funding article. Here's a great quote: "Funding does not necessarily create bias, but it selects bias and is a leading indicator bias." (page 7, column 2)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Capacity (I've only read 2 pages) (Found the above document through a footnote on this site. Haven't checked out this site yet)

Why do so many people lack easy access to safe water? In my last post, I focused a little on the role that business people play. What of the people themselves, those that live where the water is bad? Perhaps another way to ask the same question is, why are the poor poor? Again, this post is not based on research, at least not yet. I'm writing what I think.

A capacitor is a device that stores energy...

potentiometer (or 'pot' for short) describes an electronic component which has a user-adjustable resistance

Capacity and potential within the human machine.

The power to learn or retain knowledge; mental ability.
Innate potential for growth, development, or accomplishment; faculty.

existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality

Think of capacity as a stored amount of reality trait, and potential as the amount that is being manifested in a given moment. Some examples of reality traits: intelligence, conscience, compassion, selfishness, intuition, ambition. The individual personality of a single human machine at any given moment is produced by the settings of the potentiometers controlling the flow of the capacitors containing the reality traits. If you've ever mixed sound, this analogy might make more sense. If you have a 16 channel mixing board, with 16 signals coming in, guitars, bass, drums vocals, keyboards, DJ scratch, flute, sax, whatever. Each channel has numerous potentiometers, or pots, or knobs for controlling the amount and shape of the signal of that channel. The knobs are manipulated, setting the amount of resistance from infinite to none, blending the instruments together to create the mix.

The individual person is made up of a mix of various levels of reality traits, the instruments of the individual, in various states of resistance. Are the people drinking the disease ridden waters less intelligent than those who live near safe water? Do they have less ambition? Or do they have the capacity, but their circumstances keep the resistance high, and they can't advance themselves to reach their full potential?

Superstition is a shackle of the mind. Religion in the form of faith, belief, ritual, tradition, community, these strengthen people. Superstitious religious belief, like believing that suffering is caused by original sin so it's our lot to suffer, is insidious. It allows people to be manipulated. I suspect that many of the people without access to safe water are there due to war and politics. This is certainly the case for refugees. But not all drinkers of bad water are refugees.

Soerens also confirmed that parasites and bacteria in the water had caused
illness and death. Sadly, most villagers did not understand the connection
between use of bacteria-laden water and illness or death.

Superstition can prevent the individual from exploring cause and effect possibilities. Beliefs and practices that served to bind a people together can perpetuate poverty and disease when those people are confronted with the ever expanding border of the machine. The indigenous people of the Amazon are losing their hunting grounds, and their ability to pack up and move to cleaner water. The industry of the machine is consuming the forest, contaminating the water, and imposing the hierarchical ownership of property that destroys tribal life. Or maybe they're just a bunch of dumb bunnies lacking ambition to fix their water problems.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


We are animals, biological beings. Part of that biology is intellect. Perhaps there is something more that defines us, some spirit soul entity, but I think not. Alan Watts described the animated corpse theory in The Book. If there is a soul that exists without the body, then that is what we would be, animated corpses. But he is not denying the nonmaterial existence of individual self. He also puts forth the idea of universal self. I think of this using a radio as analogy. Consciousness exists as pontential, a signal like a band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Individualility is the reception of a limited set of frequencies focused by the pattern that makes up the individual body. I, that part of all of us that we experience as self, is produced by the interplay of the particles and field that manifest as physical reality. My particular conscious me is a station that tunes into the collection of patterns that make up me. I'll have to keep working on this to express it more elegantly.

I did not mean to get stuck on the underlying nature of existence. I sat down to write about animality. The quality of existence that is brought on by animal desire, the biological machine (one I don't recommend flipping off). But now I will spin off onto another tangent.

In my last blog, I wondered why ensuring safe drinking water for all the world's citizens is not a priority. One facet of this can be discussed through Dependency Theory. Now if Leonidas comes along and reads this, he'd probably accuse me of being a collectivist, his favorite insult. So in predefense, I'm using Dependency Theory to provide some framework for discussion. I'm certainly not advocating state control of business activity. State as umpire to the empire, let the teams play. With that out of the way, Dependency Theory provides some insight into the disparity of wealth between nations. International business activity aided by lackey government powers do indeed implement machines that keep countries impoverished. Our standard of living depends upon cheap labor and goods. Various machines built and maintained by international businesses work to keep in place policies and political structures in other nations that benefit the first world to the detriment of the vast majority of citizens in the affected third world countries. My usual example is the toppling of the democratically elected government in Guatamala by United Fruit and the CIA to prevent land reform that would've had a negative finacial impact for United Fruit and its shareholders.

Dependency Theory doesn't directly explain why so many people have unsafe drinking water (for that is the illustrative example I'm using). The lack of committed effort by the world community in ensuring ready access to a safe source of the second most important thing to human beings can be explained by the newly created Collatoral Damage Theory. This theory, which I'm making up as I write, says that in focusing on the acquistion and wealth, unintential harm is caused through neglect. The philosophical constructs necessary to be a cog in the machines described by Dependency Theory include superiority and a blame the victim. Those in the machine using these beliefs to keep their conscience at bay while they perform dehumanizing acts lack motivation to provide safe water. If you're engaged in mining activity that is polluting the local water supply, you'd have to admit that your action is causing a problem before you'd be willing to take steps to protect the water. In order for it to be a problem, you'd have to care about the people who's water supply it is. So you just don't think about it and continue to do the work because it's creating wealth and wealth is good for everybody. The disease caused by the polluted water is Collatoral Damage, and the perpetuators need to deny personal ownership of the sorrow in order to continue to commit the acts.

All just thought. No new research was conducted on the formation of these opinions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Attempting to continue

This is likely to be a lousy post, but I'm really wanting to get on with this project. This is meant to be an essay on The Machine, and how to flip it off.

The last meaningful book I read was The Tao of Physics so I'm currently thinking of things at the particle/wave level. At some point I should create a post of definitions, since I make up terms to express what exists in my thought world, my interpretations of my perceptions. Since language is not the reality to which it refers, but meant to connect people by creating shared perspective, I have no qualms about creating argot (thanks to the ridiculous Leonidas for turning me on to this word).

The Machine is the underlying workings of the social constructs we function within. It is an analogy of how society works. People are the parts of The Machine. Enlightenment is awakening and becominng a cognizant functioning component of The Machine, gaining self awareness and ability to direct one's role. I love the scene in The Matrix when Neo is awoken from his role as a battery and is discarded by the machines.

The Machine seeks to dehumanize us to support a hierarchical power structure. Take for example the stock exchange. People wish to gain wealth simply by having wealth to invest. What does it really contribute? The pushing of paper generating wealth seems absolutely absurd to me. An even more insidious example is the lottery. Pooling a bunch of money together to generate more money, and paying out huge sums to a few and small sums to a few more to keep it going, it's an expression of dehuminization. And even more insidious example is Fear Factor. Humiliate yourself by eating gross stuff, and taking fake risks to entertain the sordid desires of the public for the chance to win money. What the fuck is wrong with you people?

It has been estimated that roughly 60 per cent of the global burden of disease from acute respiratory infections, 90 per cent from diarrhoeal disease, 50 per cent from chronic respiratory conditions and 90 per cent from malaria could be avoided by simple environmental interventions.

The energy spent on Fear Factor could instead be spent on providing clean water for suffering people. Why isn't wanting to ensure that all peoples on the planet have access to clean water a priority? Hopefully in my next post, I will explore some possible reasons we're willing to let others suffer needlessly, or even worse, deliberately perpetuate suffering.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm baack

I've been out of it for a long time now. Last night, I watched a show on FSTV about a reporter whose name I can't remember that has been covering Iraq as an unembbedded reporter. I was able to sit through the whole thing. What I gathered from it is: we're fucked. We have screwed those people so incredibly inhumanely that we'll have enemies for many generations. Sad beyond sad.

Did I miss something? Why the recent interest in border patrol and immigration? Did some big thing happen, or is it just another distraction?