Sane man !

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hug, Kiss or ...

I'm being told that young kids in Scotland have a game called "Hug, Kiss or Torture?". When doing it to a girl (yuck!) you prefer "torture" of course...

This explains all that has happened in Iraq and elsewhere: all harmless, innocent childish fun! It was those dumb Iraqis were guilty of giving the wrong answer, another proof that they really can't govern themselves...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pot not so harmless

Very interesting and sadly true. There are complicating factors and it's not universal but it's a definite trend. Just had another anecdotal tale the other day... The recent increase and change of perception seems to come from the arrival of skunk. Most of the interviewees are still for legalisation (and regulation).

Zerrin Atakan, of the National Psychosis Unit, summarises the findings: "Does cannabis trigger an earlier onset of psychosis in predisposed people? Yes. Does cannabis exacerbate the symptoms generally? Yes. Does cannabis use worsen the outcome and progress the illness? Yes."

The mental-health charity Mind's advisory pamphlet on cannabis details the symptoms it can induce - hallucinations, fantasies, voices, depersonalisation, loss of control, irrational panic and paranoia.

It is not just that the statistics do not seem to justify the widespread panic: current figures suggest that cannabis use increases the incidence of psychosis from 1% to 3% at most, and that the life-time incidence of schizophrenia per se remains at one in 100 (or 0.4% of population at any one time). There is also the vexed issue of causality. And what most of the research has so far established is correlation, not cause.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


That is the problematic of shallowness: dealing with peripheral knowledge, information, entertainment, etc, taking the base as granted, while notknowing it. Paddling at the surface of a sea of unfathomable depth.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

No need for conspiracies

Following this post, I wanted to expand on the support of the West for Israel.
Short version is: most of the strong support for Israel in "the West" has nothing to do with the Jewish religion but is simply a support for a similar developed and modern society, akin to ours. Problems arise from ordinary racism and not religious wranglings. The fairness of the situation is secondary.

I got started on this subject (often thought about) reading another obtuse argument from O. Kamm's blunt razor. He once again labours (only in that sense could he really be considered a labour supporter) to misread one of the arguments of Chomsky, who reveals that he is... (surprise) a Jewish anti-semite! But the subject at heart of this rubbish is interesting.

References are too often made nowadays to the holocaust, simply because it is a convenient moral absolute in political discussions (which will nearly always lack such certainties). It is casually thrown around to add "strength" to a (strongly felt) argument through tagging. In all this (rarely) grave or (more often) incensed rethoric is lost the crucial problem at the heart of this act: the scapegoating of a minority. The fanatic strength and the determination of the nazis was borne out of their humiliation after thetragedy of WW1, and this folly was applied to the "jewish question", ie "all our problems are caused by this population there!", a massive transfer of their chauvinistic pride, inflated by the dogs of war and then destroyed. To see now the same kind of racist scapegoating all accross Europe (let alone the world) is depressing. Most of the accusations of antisemitism flying around have nothing to do with this, hence Chomsky's remark that it had really disappeared in Europe.

This post also fits in rather well with the debate about the "discovered" Protocols of the Elder Muslim Brotherhood.

Anyway, what I feel strongly about is this: no need to resort to Jewish conspiracies when discussing Israel; it's much more simple than that.

It is simply a case of "us" vs "them". Israel is modern, industralised society. It has technology centres, universities, beaches, discos, concerts, etc. We can see images of (pale-skinned) people, living a life very similar to ours (at least in the protection of the enclaves and the army). Images of palestine show dusty refugee camps, with swarthy/arabic people wandering amid torn concrete debris. Now who the hell is the average westerner going to relate to? The ancestral part of our brain has a tendency to associate and feel empathy with people similar to ourselves. It is a good-old racism problem, ties in nicely with this other discussion at CT.

More importantly, which western business will work with the palestinians? Which American politician will side with the brown guys and hope to keep his seat (especially today)? The Israeli's religion has nothing to do with all this.

Many pro-palestinians lefties mutter darkly about zinonists and the jewish lobbies in the US. Are they that powerful? Would the US policy move in a certain way just because of peripheral lobbying efforts? Marxists particularly should know that there must be deeper, global structural incentives of some kind...
This goes for both sides: the pro-israelis who throw silly "anti-semitism" attacks all around, which represents a ridiculous loss of perspective as evoqued above, miss the mark totally.

When a discotheque is bombed, the West feels more empathy than when a slum is attacked by an army helicopter: most do not live in slums and have been to a disco. But what about the "targeting of innocents", they say? It happens on both sides, but the palestinians don't have a traditional army (nor a state) to which we can relate to. Yet a war is fought on both sides, with people targeted.

Yet the palestinian side is quite clearly the oppressed one, ironically and particularly because of its lack of ressources and army, so most of the more rational observers and politicians in Europe do plead for the palestinian cause, and the UN has passed many resolutions against Israel.

As for where the fault resides? That's an easy one: the English again! We messed that one up didn't we... add it to the list of post-colonial disasters.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Lo and behold

The invisible hand of the market has got fat fingers...
But it's still always right. The market had to have this blip, and it's self-correcting like crazy!