Dangerous to drive drunk, but apparently not dangerous to fly a rocket into space drunk, although NASA are perturbed that the news has got out, they seem to have been largely unconcerned, it is, after all, their cultural drug. Some might think you'd have to be mad or drunk to get in a tiny tin can strapped to the top of an enormous tank of high octane fuel and allow yourself to be blasted off into space, or even that a stiff drink or six is just what you need to blot out the thinking parts of the brain which would otherwise be screaming 'don't do this!'.
[Oliver Clark's guide to guide to fluoxitane and alcohol explains some of the potential drawbacks of taking the anti-depressant fluoxetine with alcohol].
Everyone knows the dangers of alcohol, that it kills thousands every year, breaks up relationships, leads to mindless violence against complete strangers, causes most road traffic accidents and costs the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds. But that doesn't stop the continuing obsession with cannabis and it's unproven link to a tiny number of cases of schizophrenia in adolescents. Despite cases of schizophrenia not having risen at all from previous years and decades, and despite the incidence of schizophrenia being the same in every country despite their laws on cannabis or the percentage of users, still certain people seem inordinately concerned about the mildest, most human friendly drug on the planet. It's sort of an obsession, and they really should get treatment rather than bother everyone else with it.
Now a team of 'scientists' [actually psychologists, so not real scientists] have re-examined the results of countless surveys and reports and concluded that cannabis use, even a one off event, is liable to increase your chances of experiencing a psychotic illness by 40%. Interestingly, the head of the team who did this survey of surveys, Stanley Zammit, when interviewed for the Lancet podcast, drew back from saying there was a causal link, too many other factors being involved for him to stick his neck out that far, which hasn't stopped the media in their usual simple-minded, excited fashion announcing that this presented 'scientific proof' that cannabis causes psychotic illness, and it won't stop politicians from using it as proof they have to act.
All the real evidence shows that cannabis plays no role in the onset of schizophrenia, is incidental to it, but, perhaps in some cases, exacerbates it, so it's probably best that the very few schizophrenics who start to use it should stop doing so, especially if it seems to make them paranoid or losing it in any way. That the many millions of cannabis users who work productively, raise families, contribute to their communities and perform many and varied skilled functions, pay tax and contribute to society should be stigmatised and bullied because of this slight danger is a travesty of justice and an infringement of their human rights. The lack of joined-up logical thinking among the opponents of cannabis is the clue, they are obsessives who have focused on cannabis and will not be swayed by common sense, logic or facts. The rest, the media and politicians, who go along with the frequent moral panics these obsessives manufacture, are ignorant on this as many other subjects and don't bother to think about it rationally, preferring the sensationalism and rehashing of the same tired old arguments to actually tackling the issue in an adult way. So the status quo continues: criminals continue the illicit supply at great profit, it and other, mostly more harmful, drugs are freely available to anyone without proof of age, and kids become addicted to hard drugs without anything being done to prevent it. So a disservice all round, to children, adults and society as a whole. We have all suffered from this ludicrous law and, it seems, we are to continue to suffer yet. Anslinger and the makers of that racist film Reefer Madness have a lot to answer for.
With the ineptness we have come to expect from government, measures to combat the floods have been inadequate, reactive and piecemeal. Upton-on-Severn, now under water, waited for its flood barriers to arrive, which, inexplicably, aren't stored there, but were held up on the M5, flooded and gridlocked. Hillary Benn, idiot son of the pretentious peer turned people's man Tony, just looks bemused as he tries to get his head round what has happened, and which cliche he should recycle for this event, and the head of the Environment Agency, yet another Scot, doubtless appointed on ethnic lines by a Scottish majority government, is coming under increased criticism, but claims 'no one could have anticipated this'. Absurd since the government were issuing warnings several days before.
Of course, the usual people who would help in circumstances like this, the Army, are otherwise engaged providing target practice for Iraqis and Afghans, so no help there [we might need the Navy if it continues much longer]. But the RNLI has relocated to Gloucester [not normally a coastal town], which, while already flooded, will be inundated by tonight as the water coming into the Severn from Wales meets the incoming high tide. Flood plain is a phrase getting the attention it deserves now, but too late as most of them have been covered with housing estates in the past thirty odd years, and those who were sold these 'temporary' houses will be miffed to find that not only can they not get insurance on them, but can't sell either. But they really have only themselves to blame for not remaining awake and aware. Time for a reality check, this is just the start, and it can only get worse. Already the UK is looking a lot like the map over on the right for 2050, a long way to go.
Having warnings for several days now that more heavy rain and resultant floods were on the way, has not stopped thousands of stupids setting out on their holidays with kids, dogs and disabled grannies as if nothing is any different from the brochures. Once in holiday mode, all sense seems to have deserted them, and most of those stranded for the last 24 hours on flooded motorways don't even have any food or drink. After all, you get food at service stations, other people provide your food so you don't have to think about it.
With parts of several motorways flooded, the tailbacks have built up to thousands of cars which aren't going anywhere, least of all a service station, so there they sit, unwilling to acknowledge it was stupid to set out against all the warnings, and wanting to blame the emergency services for leaving them there and not coming round by helicopter with hot ready meals. These are non viables, utterly dependent on a complex consumer society which provides for their every need, unable to think or act proactively, unable to take the most basic precautions for self preservation. I would never leave home on a more than ten minute car journey without water, anything longer and snacks as well would be packed.
The river Arrow close to where I walk the dogs has risen to the level of its banks from being around ten feet below, and has gone over into the flood plain - the picture below shows where the river normally is [past the trees]. No houses have been built here. The sheer volume of water rushing down is huge, and it's all going to Bristol along with the contents of several minor rivers that feed into a big one and then into Bristol. From the state of it here, I have never seen it this high, even in the middle of the wettest winter. Usually in summer it's a one to two inch deep trickle over multi-coloured pebbles and worn stones, clear and sparkling in the sunshine. Nothing like this angry brown torrent carrying all within it.
The dogs of course took to it with much excitement, and splashed around having a great time, washing all the mud off their legs and bellies. This is a recreation ground with several football pitches usually.
All we hear about is the effect on humans, stupid or otherwise, whereas a much greater impact of this kind of extreme weather is felt by wildlife. Many thousands of small mammals must have been drowned in the floods, particularly those which live in burrows like mice, shrews, voles, moles, and dormice, and birds too get wet and chilled and just fade away. Having not seen the almost grown baby blackbirds today - they have been coming daily for bread, raisins and mealy worms - we're fearful they too have succumbed.
And then the rains came, again. Having barely recovered from the last onslaught, we are now faced with over 4 inches of rain in the next 24 hours, there will be much more flooding, largely in areas which have already suffered, because they are the natural place excess water flows to - too low, and the acres of concrete laid everywhere means no soaking away into the land. I think we could declare the UK a monsoon country, and the sooner we start growing rice the better, wheat doesn't take kindly to being under water. It's estimated that already this year 40% of the UK's food crops have been lost, and in future years it will be more, and, given the state of other countries - forest fires raging across vast areas of America and Europe, floods in China claiming lives as well as land - it can't be long before there is a world food shortage, and then the shit will really hit the fan. No good then the UK being a net importer of food, with a starving population, no country is going to export food to us, so the shortsighted policy of letting food production in Britain diminish and food imports increase [including air freighting food from Africa], will result in starvation in the UK and in many other countries. Perhaps the USA will go to war to seize people's food rather than their oil in future.
In case another American neo-con no brain comes by because I'm listed under Libertarian in BlogCatalog, I wish to make it clear that Libertarian in Europe means [and has always meant] anarchist. In the US it means extreme right wing, neo-fascist/neo-con, gun worshipping idiots, the very opposite of the European libertarian, and not in the least libertarian, they just hate government of any kind. They see European libertarians as extreme left, although these left-right terms have little meaning when it comes to defining anarchism. Anarchists are certainly totally opposed to the kind of neo-fascists who think of themselves as libertarians in the US, so if you're one of them, go away before your brain starts hurting. This blog, as with Woody Guthrie's guitar, will kill fascists if it gets half a chance. And if any of you think you're capable of taking me on on any issue, go ahead and make my day, I love chewing fascists for breakfast, I will destroy you. And I bet my vocabulary is bigger than yours!
The whole of the US political spectrum is skewed to the right; their Democrats are right wing from a European perspective, so it follows the Republicans are extreme right wing, and anything right of them is bound to be closer to Nazism than anything else. The US 'liberal' is closer to the British Tories than the Liberals, and to be a communist in Amerika is to risk harrassment, drive by shootings, and even imprisonment, and anarchists make their blood run cold as indeed they should.
Just as Live Aid did nothing for world poverty, and rather a lot for the pop egos that strutted self-righteously about the stage, the Earth Concerts will do nothing about global warming or our ability to do something meaningful to counteract it. Chances are, even with the proposed so-called carbon offsetting, these concerts will add a further carbon weight on the planet, especially if you add up all the travelling the popsters will indulge in to get there. Limos are gas guzzlers. Thus those who contribute much more than the average person to the burden we place on the planet will lecture everyone in between songs just like Gombee Geldoff, then go back to their consumptive lifestyles without a thought of the hypocrisy they are mired in.
Offsetting carbon is a con, a way for the rich to feel better about their destruction without actually doing anything about it. No wonder politicians prat on endlessly about it, it's their answer; throw money at it because we have plenty of that, rather than actually reduce consumption and lead a more simple life. Capitalism, just like cancer, means unlimited growth, without growth it falters and is in danger of collapse. I see no sign yet that anyone is addressing this contradiction, most seem to think that we can all carry on as usual, with perhaps a little less travel or sharing cars, not to mention recycling and charging for supermarket carrier bags. The actual problem goes so much deeper and will not be solved by tinkering. The decisions will soon be taken away from us, just like building in flood plains.
The recent floods across the UK, many still not drained away yet, have been expensive and disruptive, and could be repeated at any time, and most likely will be in coming years as climate change causes increasingly violent weather events. But most people, and all government members, appear to be thinking of it as a one off, something to be got over and recovered from, compensated for as if a it's a once in a lifetime event. No mention of needing to upgrade flood prevention such as increasing the capacity of drains to cope with such huge volumes of water, they seem to think that flood barriers are all that's needed, and then only where rivers burst their banks.
Many of those affected are now whining that they haven't had any help, that they had no insurance and seem to think it is the responsibility of the tax payers to compensate them for their own stupidity. That's what insurance is for, for the unexpected event which coats you money, yet these people were more interested in saving the cost of premiums and took the risk they wouldn't need insurance. I've been paying home insurance for decades, never claimed, possibly because I'm suss to not living in a flood plain, and have always chosen higher ground, preferably on a hill. I still don't intend to save the insurance premiums, becuase there is always a chance, and that, after all, is what insurance is all about. That's why we have car insurance, not because we intend to have accidents, but in case one happens. No one else should be responsible for helping these short sighted people out of their situation; they chose to live where they do, they chose to disregard information fully available on climate change, flood plains and the likelihood of flooding occurring, and they chose to save on insurance premiums. I have zero sympathy for them.
Whole towns appear to have a major problem, having been built on flood plains ages ago. Perhaps the thinking should be towards relocating, if rebuilding drainage is out of the question. This problem isn't going to go away, and chances are it will get worse.
In the usual way, the authorities, having sunk into a state of relaxed business as usual, have now overreacted to the recent car bomb attempts in London and Glasgow with blanket security clamp downs at airports, and are installing concrete tank defences outside major buildings, including Wimbledon, just in case Islamist Jihadis have it in for tennis tournaments, having been inflamed by all those 'slags' in shorts. So the country gets a little bit more like the Somme, and the amateur wannabe Jihadis who clearly couldn't organise a successful kids party, have got much more of a reaction than they deserved. Let's face it, they're inadequate wankers, and if this is Al Qaida, then we have little to fear as they couldn't even make a gas cylinder bomb, instructions for which are, apparently, available on the net.
Rather than this gross overreaction to what was actually no threat to anyone but themselves, we should be treating them to the famous British sense of humour, they should be the butt of jokes both in the media and in the pub [the latter is more likely, the media are a bunch of tossers too, and always get overexcited over such events]. If the overall reaction from the nation was 'Hah, call yourselves terrorists? Most eight year olds terrify us more than you do', we could really make them squirm, above all they can't stand being laughed at, because they take themselves so seriously.
Dousing yourself with petrol may seem a bit extreme to those going off on holiday to burn themselves in a different way, but if that's what they want, maybe we should accommodate them with a Jihadi room at the airports, where they could, safely surrounded by flame retardant materials, self immolate to their hearts content with en-suite petrol tap, we could even turn it into a game show and have bets on them succeeding. Any Islamists wanting to commit suicide should be encouraged, just as long as they don't hurt anyone else along the way, sort of Buddhist really, although the Vietnamese monks didn't appear to affect US policy, so it won't actually achieve anything other than ridding the world of yet another half witted religionista, and we could do with less of those. Watch out for cars loaded with Swan matches, especially if smoking – don't you know there's a smoking ban?
The state, with the connivance of the media, are seizing the opportunity to inflict yet more draconian 'security' measures on us under the guise of protecting us from incompetents. No one was killed, and one Jihadi got burnt, yet they are reacting as if it's 7/7 all over again. The emphasis now being on cars ramming into entrances, as that is the most recent event to concentrate limited intelligence on. Pity they don't treat climate change as seriously as this, then we might actually start to get something done. But signs are that few even understand what's going on, and extreme weather events are still treated as rarer than an Islamist attack, despite the fact that they occur weekly these days and are increasingly violent and disruptive. As most people think food grows in supermarkets, no one is saying much about the destruction of UK crops this latest bout of weather has caused, other to say food prices will rise. The trouble with the rich is that they feel so comfortable they can't imagine anything disrupting their cosy lives.
Meanwhile, a much-delayed law that makes British producers and importers of electronic goods responsible for the recycling of their products has come into force. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires 4kg of e-waste to be recycled per person per year. Manufacturers have to fund recycling schemes, while retailers must offer take-back services to customers.
The legislation was supposed to be operational by August 2005 but was delayed by 'major difficulties', or profit margins as they are known. E-waste, which includes PCs, games consoles, microwaves and washing machines, is the fastest-growing form of rubbish in the European Union. So not only can we return packaging to supermarkets, but when the old electrical item breaks down, we can take it back to the shop we bought it from [if we remember!]. Makes sense.
scenes from this war will create thousands maybe even millions of militants
intent on inflicting damage on the only superpower. The war will be waged
across America and in any American outpost and embassy. It will be brutal
and messy and will continue for decades. Bush doesn't know what he has unleashed.
Fool on the hill March 2003
Some links to interesting climate-change related websites:
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