Month: March 2007

Drugs by toxicity

Andrew Sullivan that darling of the media wrote this piece for The Atlantic.

Toxicity Graph

Interesting that the least toxic drugs are also among the most illegal in the United States. Yep, that’s right, marijuana and LSD are among the LEAST toxic. Even Nitrous Oxide requires dosages of 150 times effective to be lethal.

And who here hasn’t tried helium. You know, buy a helium balloon and carefully unseal it so that you can inhale the gas and talk like a cartoon character. Do that a time too many though and they’ll be carting you away for greener pastures.

H->He->C – that’s what our sun is doing right now. Hydrogen fuses to Helium which fuses to Carbon. Oh there are lots of intermediary steps, but it’s effectively what is going on in the sun.

I do wish I had taken chemistry as a youngster. It would make it easier to understand the nomenclature of drugs. I seem to remember a cartoon I once saw of a guy with a tourniquet on his arm while poking a needle into his arm. The caption went something like “Hey mom and dad, am I ever glad I got that pharmacology degree!”

No instead I had to move towards computer science, info sci to be particular and a strong bent towards engineering. Think of how much fun I could have had.

Why I love Family Guy, Again

I’m jonesing. TV finally gave up the magic smoke and I see no point in buying a new one only to have to cart it twice since we’re moving. So I’ll wait until we move into the new place, where I have to drill holes etc. to get the cable to the new television.

Anyhow the reason I’m jonesing is because I can’t see Family Guy. I think what I love about the show besides its obvious Providence and RI connections, is that it isn’t afraid to poke fun at anything.

Witness this:

A good Anti-DRM Rant

This guy is definitely pissed about Digital Rights Management (DRM). He should be, this whole concept of licenses only allowing music to be played on specific devices/programs is ridiculous.

I read it out loud and even Keyron was even pissed about it. You see he got bit by the Sony rootkit a few years back. And it took me a good amount of time to clean that crap off his computer.

But I’ve reluctantly agreed to DRM since I’ve bought a ton of tune from the iTunes store. Oh sure, there’s a kludge to get the tracks into MP3 format. Burn them to CD and rip the CD. And there’s software that does it so you don’t have to waste the 50 cents on the CD.

The music and video industry need a wakeup call. Granted, they learned this bullshit from computer software vendors. Have you ever actually read your license agreement for Windows? It’s filled with legalese that essentially says that you are using the software that you paid for under the good graces of the vendor, and should the vendor wish to arbitrarily disable your license, they have every right to do so.

I realized they’re trying to protect an investment, but there has to be a better way. Maybe the first step is charging a more reasonable price per track. A track is ‘only 99 cents, but then I look in my iTunes library and see that in the last 6 months I’ve spent $200 on music. That’s $33 a month! I know a proposal had been floated around that would have charged broadband subscribers an extra $5 a month but they could legally download all the music they wanted. I would have gone for that.

Put it this way, average CD has what, 12 tracks on it? And they charge what, $12-$17 for the CD now? About a buck a track on average. But think about the overhead involved. They need the raw materials for the CD and it’s casing and labeling. They need the energy to press the CD’s, and they need to pay the people to produce the discs.

But with digital, it’s recorded, mastered, and then flipped online and they start ringing up a buck a track. Except the overhead doesn’t support a buck a track, maybe 25 cents a track would be more like it.

We get fucked no matter what we do. It’s time to break the power of big corporations. They never deserved the rights they claim anyhow, it was just some asshole clerk in the 1800’s who inserted language asserting that corporations were the same as people when it came to the Constitution. We all know that’s false, don’t we?

A new type of synthesizer

Ok, granted guitar is my favorite instrument but synth is my second favorite, horns my third.

But check out this synthesizer – it’s called Reactable. Totally cool, in essence it’s a real modular synthesizer that can by dynamically reconfigured.

I know, I know, I’m geeking out here. But this is way fucking cool.

The really cool part of this is that it’s Open Source. More details about the project can be found at the Reactable web site.

This is why protecting the environment is important

It seems that Bald Eagles have taken up residence in Philadelphia for the first time in 200 years.

And in the past few years we’ve had Red Tail Hawks nesting in Providence. What this means is that the Clean Air and Water Act, the banning of DDT and other pesticides, etc. has had a positive effect. Birds of prey only return to an area when the food supply is abundant and they feel they can safely raise their young.

Meanwhile we’ve got the Bush Administration wanting to drill in the ANWR, log pristine forests, and in general just totally disregard the Clean Air and Water Act. Not to mention totally playing down the global warming problems.

As an aside, I really have to organize my categories. I note there are a number of them now.

NASA had big plans back then

Time has been re-running articles from the 60’s and 70’s and this one caught my eye.

It caught my eye because I’m a big proponent of space exploration. Put it this way, if we don’t get off this planet and out of this solar system in the next 5 billion or so years, the human race will be erased when our sun goes into its red giant phase.

Now, here’s what really gets me. The U.S GDP for 2006 (GNP==GDP) was $12.49 Trillion dollars. Of that, $500,000,000,000 goes to military expenditures. Yes, five hundred billion dollars a year. That works out to about 4% of GDP. In 1970 NASA asked for .5% to 1% of the GDP. The GDP was $900 billion, so NASA wanted $4,500,000,000 to $9,000,000,000. If we were to give NASA that 1% today they’d have $124,900,000,000 – $124.9 Billion dollars.

Instead they’ll get a paltry $10 billion for FY2008. That extends out to $15 billion in 2011 or so. But still, that’s only 8% of what they should get according to what they asked for in the 70’s.

Personally I’d like to see about $250 billion lopped off the military budget and transfered into our space program, health care, and education. I think there’d be more than enough to go around and we’d be getting to Mars and beyond that much faster.

Instead we get to be witness to the debacle that Iraq has become. All in all, I’d say we’re not getting our dollars worth for what we put in for federal taxes.

The lies we’ve been told have cost people their lives

I’m talking about the lies regarding marijuana, pot, whatever you like to call it.

Recent finding indicate that the cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is effective for blocking angiogenesis in tumors of the brain, particularly glioblastoma multiforme. (And why is is it that Firefox’s spell check doesn’t like big words, since I see lots of squiggly lines and I’ve had to add terms to the dictionary!)

Glioblastomas are nasty things. The function of glial cells is to connect brain cells. A number of years back I served on the board of directors of the Ocean State Free Net. Another member of that board was Calvin Mesler. Unfortunately Cal had glioblastoma multiforme and there was nothing they could do. He passed away about a year after I’d first met him.

Thus the subject of this post. Had we not been lied to about pot all these years I bet there are a number of lives that would have been saved. It only makes me more irate about our drug policy in this country.

Sex Ed in the 50’s

Found this video on a discussion board I visit on occasion. First of all I was shocked – they actually taught this in the 50’s? Here I was thinking the 50’s were so sanitized. Guess I was wrong on that count.

I can just see the response you’d get today were you to play this video in a classroom full of 13 year olds.The kids would probably appreciate the no-nonsense approach but their Christian Fundie parents would go absolutely ballistic. I have to laugh when I hear about abstinence only sex education. As far as I’m concerned abstinence is mommy and daddy sticking their heads in the sand, hoping that their little darling will hold out until the wedding night.

Not only is it unrealistic, but by only teaching abstinence we’re doing a real disservice to kids. If there is one thing a kid is full of, it’s questions. To try and deflect with things like abstinence is ridiculous and why we’re seeing an up tick in unwanted pregnancies and STD’s among teens.

The Colbert Report skewers Bush again

Unfortunately wordpress has a little issue with letting you embed code, so I’ll have to just give you the link to this funny Colbert Report video.

It is common knowledge that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report appeal to a slightly more educated sector of the viewing public that usual. As such, it was pretty easy to understand the Esteban Colberto was simply the latinized version of Stephen Colbert. Friend of mine likes to add an ‘o’ to the end of his last name when making reservations at an Italian restaurant. And I’m even known to go by my latinized name of Antonino Stefano on occasion.

But the video is worth a watch because you get snippets of the protests in Latin America when el Presidente goes to visit. I once saw a quote that stated that whenever Bush goes somewhere there are always protests, whereas when former President Clinton goes somewhere he’s treated like a rock star.

That says something since el jefe George W. Bush tries to be an everyman and fails miserably.

Military Technology

We’re now beyond gadgetry to enhance our armed forces. Now we’re starting to look at the very processes of our bodies in order to make them more effective.

Being that it’s 30F outside right now I’d really would have liked to have had that little warming device when I was walking in the cold this afternoon. The only concern I have about this is that the next step up is superhumans.