A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

30 January 2004

Leapin' Lizards!

(A note on design--the main character's bio at that page is murd'rous difficult to read due to the superimposition of bright lavender text on a grey textured background)

Just a quick stroll through the internet--or would that be a wade?'s one of my favourites. Check this one out. The free daypass to view the whole article is painless to get and well worth the price of watching a 1-minute commercial. Consider how much time you spend watching commercials on Super Bowl Sunday.

Dave Barry--he's a blogger, too, y'know.

In a fit of ennui (which is like boredom, only more expensive), I punched "lizards" into a search engine which shall remain nameless.

The top result was these guys! And the next link, while returning us safely to reptiles and amphibians, appears to be a private, non-corporate sorta setup.

I guess the point is that the internet can be a very equal-opportunity place. In fact at one point, due in part to the tremendous efforts of my boss at the time, I, a slightly-more-than mere nobody, appeared third in the list of hits for my name. Sadly the business has since gone defunct and nowadays I'm on the second page if I'm lucky.

Well these both begin with an "L". And this site is more music--what is it about lizards and music? That Honolulu Zoo site is terrific, by the way.

Great horny toads.

Totally different, but still: Great horny toads! In stereo!

29 January 2004

I was at a bit of a loose end today. Had a look at Rip's blog. The man requires help, this much is certain. I also found this, which left me temporarily paralysed.

In the spirit of random searching, I entered the words "random searching" into Google and pulled the trigger.

  • Interesting: The use of random searches as a source of inspiration.

  • Any writers out there looking for an offer they can't refuse?

  • Library Journal's Web site is pleasant and informative. Why is that?

  • More than you ever wanted to know about hummingbird foraging patterns.

  • I just find it amazing what there seems to be a market for on the web.

  • Interesting Web page with pretty pictures and some interesting content.

  • Actually, I had some qualms about that link. I disagree with some of the host's positions. But the page is often well-written and cogent, so why should I censor it?

    I'm messing about like this because I'm awaiting a rather lengthy download of a tune I've been looking for. Because of my 'net configuration, downloads are very slow on this machine. I keep meaning to fix that.

    Yeah, I'm downloading music. I have extremely mixed feeling about this: One one hand, are Aerosmith going to miss another three cents in royalties for yet another copy of Sweet Emotion, for example? Will the theft of Eleanor Rigby leave the surviving Beatles in the poorhouse? (Especially since Michael Jackson apparently owns most of the copyrights).Will the music empires of Sony and Warner Music crumble when I light-fingeredly acquire CW McCall's Wolf Creek Pass? Doubt it.

    Author's note: A grand illustration of the difference between friendly, interesting and usable, and just so-so.

    On the other hand, there are lots of bands out there that have just released their first CD. It's going to be their last and only, because right now, someone is copying that CD to their file-sharing library, and once the hit single from that album gets any radio play at all, a large number of listeners who would otherwise have had to tape the CD from a friend (remember--home taping is killing music!--and it's illegal.) will simply point and click that hit into their libraries.

    The loss of revenue (much of which will actually be scarfed by a music management company) will leave the band with a pleasant warm feeling and just enough money to buy a bus pass so that they can find other employment (which in the cases of many bands is a fine idea).

    But as someone who has copyrighted material on the Web (yeah, like anybody'd want to steal it--I wish!), I do feel a bit queasy about it. So I make my usual centrist accomodation with myself: It's bad and it's wrong. But who really gives a $#!₤ if I'm downloading #1 hits thirty years old?

    This is little different form the usual thing people do, ie:

    "Talking on a cell phone in a theatre is just rude. . .Oh, hang on--I gotta take this, it's important. Could you hold the wheel? I have to take a note."

    "Stealing is wrong young man. By the way, hand me another handful of those after-dinner mints out of the bowl. What? Well they're free, aren't they?"

    "Never, ever lie to a person young lady! Oh, hang on, there's the phone. Hello? Oh--hi aunt Maggie. Yes, we loved your parsnip and fish-scale cheesecake. No, I'm not just saying that [wince]! Oh sure! Take the wheel honey, Mother has to write down a recipe."

    Generally, most people's moral attitude towards something interesting and fun but morally questionable is only if I really, really, want to.

    Witness Gary Hart.

    But in this case, the strongest argument against downloading music on the 'net is that fact that at the moment I'm in a queue several dozen folks long, waiting to download something I could buy at a used record store for junk price. There are many, many copies of this album to be found, both on vinyl and CD.

    27 January 2004

    Finally, an end to my thoughts on addiction

    First order of business--note the snazzy new Comment link, courtesy of Halo, over there on the left.

    Today, the moment for which you've been waiting with baited breath--at least those of you with an anchovy hanging from between your teeth have been waiting with baited breath.

    The others have most likely been waiting with bated breath.

    Today, an attempt to wrap up the whole tangled problem of heroin addiction, in one post.

    When we last left, our heroes, we had come to a few basic conclusions. Namely that prohibition has been historically shown not to work, and that no-one goes out deliberately to be a heroin addict. With us so far?

    My last post left me with a number of questions about heroin addiction and its effects:

    1) Is it true that heroin has no effects on the body other than those associated with street drug use?

    That is, if the supply were of consistent quality and the addict were able to use their drug of not-exactly-choice in sterile surroundings, would their physical condition remain fairly good, or would it disintegrate as a direct result of the use of heroin?

    For answers, I tried to acess the Ministry of Health. None of the links at their Mental Health and Addictions web page worked. I'm optimistically assuming this has nothing to do with the cruel cuts of our noble premier. I phoned the local info hotline--but it's busy. I'm just glad I'm not fighting the urge to mainline an eight-ball, or something.

    Oh--got through. They were very nice, and referred me to another telephone source, where I've left my number. I'm expecting a counsellor to phone me back (Much later--no dice).

    But it doesn't make sense that injecting a foreign substance into the body wouldn't cause some form of damage, be it long-term or short-term. If we over-consume alcohol, even while maintaining an otherwise healthy lifestyle, we become vulnerable to cirrhosis of the liver. The regular use of cigarettes and marijuana is associated with hugely elevated levels of lung cancer. So why would heroin be exempt?

    My roomate counters that the body manufactures similar compounds to those found in heroin, and that when injected it's free of the delivery hazards of smoking. Of course the body supposedly manufactures alcohol too.

    Makes sense to me. I've always figured it was like diabetes: Some of us are just born a drink or two too sober, and never quite catch up.

    Question #2) Is it true, as my roomie claims, that people reach a plateau of usage and can maintain their habit with the same fix each day? Roomie suggests that there's a maximum amount beyond which people won't bother administering more. Claims a study was done with monkeys. I'd hate to try to show you how hard I searched for any evidence of that study.

    Found this though. Well-written and thoughtful, with a mild-wild flavour.

    And this. Not what I wanted, but bloody thoroughly researched, eh?

    Likewise this page, but an interesting read from a group who want to legalize ecstacy.

    And as always, a contravening view--which appears to come from an online paper whose main purpose is the "defence of marriage".

    (Surely, with the decline in couples getting formally married, the best way to defend the sacred institution is by opening it up to people who really want to get married?)

    I'm not sure what this is, but it was a fun read.

    You do realize that this blog could be written by an entirely finite number of monkeys?

    So I have yet to find evidence. I ran into a number of monkey studies, but aside from being sufficiently text-dense to stop bullets fired into my monitor, they didn't appear to say anything about usage levelling off. Pity, 'cause if it were true, if addicts could be relied upon to self-medicate with clean heroin in sterile surroundings, it seems likely there'd be fewer OD's.

    But some addicts withdraw the drug to chase the original high, since tolerance reduces the effect of the drug. Part of what leads to OD's is the variable quality of product. Since junkies have to guess the purity of what they're getting, of course there are OD's.

    On that subject: A very pretty and interesting woman managed to turn me completely off a while ago when she said "I mean, why pay $19000 dollars to save a junkie's life if he's only gonna OD again" (Note: I don't recall her exact words, but I got the spirit dead on).

    I was speechless for a minute. But it forced me to inquire whether I was somehow morally deficient in supporting continued health services even for drug abusers. My arguments run thus:

    a) If I claim moral superiority to a drug dealer, or a junkie, I am obligated to believe that a life is worth living, hence worth saving. I may be wrong in many cases, but OD is not deliberate suicide.

    b) In my nation, with its socialized medicine, many otherwise "productive" members engage in risky behaviours all the time, from drinking and driving (or talking on a cell phone and driving--they're functionally the same) to wandering about in the woods
    carrying unwrapped bacon in a backpack. My tax dollars pay for the rescue of morons with SUV's who get lost in the woods (having GPS, knowing how to use it, and having a dead battery are all quite different things). So why are junkies any different?

    Why should I object to $19 000 seven times in the life of someone who'll never cost me a dime seeing a doctor otherwise?

    c) Worse yet, many people have an attitude that since "our tax dollars pay for it" they're entitled to use the "drive-through" method of health care: First you save up all your ailements for a year or two, then on your annual visit to the doctor you insist on a battery of expensive tests and treatments you don't really need, ("Lessee, I'll take an x-ray, a blood sugar test, a gram septicimia screening, a white blood-cell count, oh and what are those little things with the sprinkles? A CAT scan? yeah, I'll have one of those too") so you can tell your friends over coffee and doughnuts how good your cholesterol is.

    Question #3: If the government provides safe injection sites or gets into selling heroin, isn't that tacit approval of the use of illicit drugs?

    Two responses: So if we keep heroin illegal, can we also do away with Zoloft and Ritalin? Ah, says the reader, but those drugs are theraputic, right? See the difference? Well actually, no. For one thing, consider the number and nature of Ritalin prescriptions. Is there any rational reason for the number to have risen like it has? Not incidentally, Zoloft and Paxil remain fairly popular drugs among both the genuinely needy and the fashionably troubled. If these drugs constitute therapy, why should there not be theraputic heroin?

    Also, the government sells both alcohol and tobacco. Is that a tacit endorsement of alcoholism and smoking? No. It's because people think that there's a need for control of these mildly psychoactive substances. Besides, the government provides addiction control by attempting to make it no fun to drink or smoke once you're past legal age.

    (While we're here: Why is it that an 18-year old in the US is old enough to be drafted, to drive, own a gun in most states, and vote, but apparently unable to handle a can of Coors light? At one time, 16-year-olds could drink beer with a meal in a British pub)

    The person who made the "why bother" statement had herself recovered from a mental disease. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to say "why give people Paxil?" or something similar. The Health Ministry at least seems to regard addictions as a mental health issue. But is that the way to perceive it? Maybe we just aren't leaning hard enough on the addicts and the salesmen.

    There are several ways to address heroin addiction:

    1) Increase the penalties for posession. Treat heroin addicts with jail time and compulsory rehabilitation. Remove the children of addicts before their parents behaviour can corrupt them.

    2) Why change anything? It's a criminal behaviour now and they ought to know better. People who take heroin should know what they're getting into nowadays and if they wind up addicted, well what did they expect? But we need an education blitz in schools to keep our kids from getting hooked. This generation may lose a few members, but the next one doesn't have to.

    3) We should create "zones of tolerance" so that they can live their lives free of harrasment. otherwise, things should stay the same.

    4) We need to introduce safe injection sites and provide support and education for addicts at those sites.

    5) Heroin should be legalized. It's the user's choice what drug to take, and by legalizing it we turn the problem into an entirely social one, not a legal one. It'll save us tons of money.

    O-kay. After many days and a lot of thought:

    Answer to #1: Useless idea. "It's already illegal--what we need is to make it more illegal!" ? It's already done in hiding, and the cops admit they haven't got any way to stop it. As cited earlier: Prohibition simply doesn't work.

    #2) Well we could certainly let things stand as they are, but aren't we sort of obligated to do the best we can for the addicts? And if whatever we go with reduces crime, reduces fatalities, and provides and environment in which junkies may be able to get clean, shouldn't we at least try it?

    3) The Swiss and other nations have tried this. Basically it does for addicts what the Warsaw Ghetto did for Polish Jews.

    4) This seems the smartest choice. Better yet, let's do what Switzerland did and provide clean, quality heroin at about $10 a hit. That'd take the business away from the dealers and pimps, remove the normal hazards of collapsed veins, abscesses, getting ripped off, raped and/or killed during a deal, heroin cut with rat poison, and overdose.

    There have been overdoses at the Swiss and Australian sites, but no deaths--even though ambulances had to attend six times the day the Sydney clinic opened its doors. That's lives saved, and those lives are worth something. At least, I think they are.

    By having a clean and safe space, junkies also may be able to get their lives under control. Some harm-reduction clinics provide day-labour contracts, so that once the addict has fixed, he or she can earn some money. None of them will ever be Ken Lay or Donald Trump but. . .

    Actually, maybe that's my point.

    And here's the interesting bit: The Swiss study found that there was a net benfit of about $300 per addict--and they were supplying the heroin!

    5) I'm not comfortable with the idea of legalizing heroin. I must say though, that that's only an uncomfortable feeling. I really can't rationalize it. Or maybe I can:

    We recognize that certain people are at risk of alcoholism due to genetic factors, as well as social ones. But heroin appears to be an equal-opportunity addiction drug. If alcohol were fundamentally addictive to 90% of the population we'd probably ban it.
    We have education programs in place against tobacco and drugs (which also provide a significant share of "sin tax" revenue for the government coffers), and those who are addicted have both rescources and motivation to quit. If heroin were legal, we'd have to create "Her-o-non". It would also increase social acceptance.

    Why wouldn't handing it out to addicts increase social acceptance? Dunno--Doctors prescibe drugs all the time. Are those drugs "socially accepted"? Has their use increased because it's somehow fashionable to use them? Perhaps. But not at the rate I suspect they would if they were over-the-counter medicine.

    Heroin users currently must break out of their addiction sufficiently to leave their comfort zone and seek treatment. In a safe injection site, they would have continual access to help, even while they were fixing. This would bring therapy and alternatives within their comfort zone. Better yet, the addicts using the facility could be monitored better to ensure their general physical and mental health, frequency of use, and relapse rate when undergoing treatment.

    So the more I think on it, the more it looks like number 4.

    The health authority should create harm reduction sites where addicts can buy and use a hit in a clean and safe environment.

    To you, dear reader, my thanks for having followed along with me. We have reached the logical conclusion in safety. If I have not persuaded you, or my arguments seem thin to you, please remember that this is only my opinion, backed up with logical thought and a few figures. Honest, logical, critical counter-argument will be welcomed.

    I know this took a very long time. It's called the thought process. It's something many politicians devote little time to. So we must do it for them.

    This blog has been brought to you today by the letters "H", and "M", and by the number 8.

    Comment Function Added. And finally, Addiction Part III

    Okay, so now I have a comment function. If you want to say something about the posts here, feel free. Myself, I just feel cheap--it's beautiful.

    You've been waiting with bated breath, I misdoubt, for my conclusion on addiction, and what strategy is most effective to adopt with heroin addicts.

    Well here's a quick link to the Dr. Peter Centre's informative page on harm reduction. As the site itself says there are no safe injection sites.

    But I just had a cat delete a large portion of my post, so I'm signing off temporarily.

    24 January 2004

    Addiction? Lemme get back to you on that. . .


    I have to say that I wish the Bush White House would just admit that they wanted to knock over Saddam Hussein. Of course that would mean that they were morally wrong to go in in the first place, but honesty might win them a few friends domestically. It would also let the leaders of their traditional allies know that there wouldn't be a repeat of Gulf War II.

    The goal of removing Saddam Hussein would have been laudable in itself. But to get approval, GWB & Co. would have had to run it by the UN, and they would have needed some sort of clear statement of agreement.

    Not that they couldn't just have gone and done it anyway (as indeed they did), but it's usually been an important part of preserving the American ethos abroad to make a moral case for war, even when the idea is distasteful, or even outright wrong.

    Oh well. Saddam's out, and that is unquestionably the way most Iraqis seem to want it. I can't say I trust the current administration to keep clear of cronyism, cheating, and corruption, though.

    Some pundits are fond of pointing to the Whitewater scandal and the Clinton impeachment trial as indications the last democratic regime in the White House was somehow thoroughly corrupt. Unfortunately for the true believers, Ronald Reagan's administration had more investigations and a hell of a lot more convictions.

    And in the end, the vast majority of news about Clinton was made due to an inquiry that would, in the world of the ordinary citizen, have been unpardonable harrassment. I was going to link to a reasonable source on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, but try typing those words into a search engine.

    It's hard to give each man equal shrift in the face of facts like that.

    Which brings me back to GWB. It's my feeling he's treading too close to Ronald Reagan's shoes on domestic issues, and on too many toes in foreign policy. He needs to be fairly circumspect about the company he keeps.

    On the other hand, the citizenry seems to like him and the democrats don't seem able to field a credible opponent thus far.

    But the profusion of "I-hate-Dubya" out there is sometimes a bit much (although it's somtimes amusing to watch). Consider this site--it's been around awhile. After a bit it kind of starts to grate on me.

    Oooh--good one, though!

    Let me admit to a bias: One of these sites (this one) is much pleasanter and interesting than the other. More creative and fun, too (not that the bit about a "liberal media bias" isn't funny or creative).

    But I'm trying to be truthful here, so here's a "fair and balanced" (can I be sued for saying that?) perspective on both of those Web sites .

  • Oh, by the way, here's an ethical and trustworthy news source: Scroll to the very bottom of the article text and read the letters in blue. Of course it's ethical and trustworthy--I told you so didn't I? And you can always trust what you read on the internet.

  • An interesting sort of anti-fan site.

  • A candyfloss analysis of presidential lives.

  • An interesting page, probably even truthful.

  • A young Iraqi who scooped the New York Times, among others--also hosted by Blogspot.

  • By the way, if you went to the Snopes page above, did you notice the "about this page" button at the bottom of any of the stories? Worth a look.

    23 January 2004

    The Second Amendment text that is so often quoted by gun supporters reads:

    "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

    Organizations like the NRA claim that their "right to bear arms" is somehow sacred, being enshrined in the US Constitution.

    Well, during my research on addiction, I learned that the Women's Christian Temperance Union, may God defend us from them, is still out there--fortunately in somewhat reduced circumstances.

    Among their recent works is an appeal to the president to enshrine a definition of marriage (apparently it's only allowed to be one man and one woman) in the Constitution.

    This sounds like something the NRA could get behind. And with the support of this large organization, perhaps the WCTU could again modify the Constitution to bring back prohibition. I'm sure the NRA would go for that.

    Of course, there is one teeny tiny problem there. If the constitution can be tinkered with to protect marriage in a single form, or to forbid people to drink beer at football games, what makes the Second Amendment so inviolable?

    Just a thought.

    By the way, I typed the word "militia" into a search engine, and look what well-regulated organization popped up at #3 on the list. This group of course you may remember from the newsworthy activities of a now ex-member.

    A sample:

    " Buy more guns and ammo. Somebody tracks this kind of thing. I don't think I need to be urging "militia people" to buy more guns and ammo, but if your spouse/parent/whoever complains, then show them this column and say, "See, honey, I MUST buy this, because it says so in the militia newsletter/webpage." "

    Lemme get that straight: "Don't let the government tell you what to do--let us"?

    22 January 2004


    Several hours ago I had a relaxed lunch involving my personal sometime-drug-of-choice, Éphémère. In a moment of sudden inspiration, I reached for a pen, and as a direct result of that action, my keyboard and desk now smell like a green apple flavoured beer and the "n" key sticks.

    Furthermore, my computer called me a bastard and keeps going to sleep on me--it also seems to have ordered a sauerkraut-and-anchovy pizza with double jalapeño peppers, but won't tell me where its wallet is.

    Stay tuned for the conclusion to our study on addiction and what measures might best be adopted to deal with it. Meantime, why not check out some of those other blogs at the right? C'mon, I know you're curious.

    If not, perhaps you're a music fan. Check out John Hiatt. He's a country singer who hasn't quite traded his soul for a whine. Thanks to Ensenada for the site

    Damn. The "enter" key sticks, too.

    If you, like me, can't understand country music because you've never been in love with a cow (Warning: That link may offend you), if there's the slightest chance that a tiny sliver of your soul remains uncorrupted by the evil one, or if you simply dig good music, you simply must go here.

    By the way, in researching the cow link, I ran into Riddle Me This. Check out their cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla"--free download. While you're at Barry's Temple, have a squiz at his disclaimer--it's great!

    So where were we?

    Well, I was asking you. But I suppose it's up to me to hold this conversation together as usual.

    Ah yes, addiction.

    When we last spoke, we had basically decided that nobody ever wanted to be an addict, but that it becomes easier to remain one, and that the net effects of addiction are the primary reason the whole thing is so terrible.

    I had, I believe, also mentioned that two people in my life stand on opposite sides of the issue of drug legalization.

    My feeling, as always, is that the truth quite likely lies between the two poles. If you're experiencing a kneejerk reaction that says "Of course drugs must stay illegal--and we should introduce the death penalty for being an addict" or if your first instinct is to say "We should immediately open a large chain of free heroin distribution centres nationwide" then please suppress those thoughts for a bit.

    I'm looking at heroin because my roomie seems so convinced. His contention is:

    1) That heroin addiction is little different from alcoholism--in fact, alcoholism is worse because (he feels) heroin addicts can function in society, hold down jobs and so forth.

    2) That if people had access to clean, pure heroin of a standard quality, the human misery would be mollified since there would be no reason to steal to support the habit (once a drug becomes legal, the price tends to drop--check the statistics on the accursed 18th amendment to the US constitution).

    3) Moreover heroin users function better than alcoholics over the long term, partly (so roomie contends) because heroin has no ill effects.

    Yeah, that last one threw me too. But since I've never considered the possibility that this might be correct, I think it's worth a look at the merits of the case.

    Those statistics above are connected to the Cato Institute, a vaguely libertarian/right think-tank. But the site seems fairly thoughtful, and importantly, it isn't shrill, nor does it appear to be deliberately misleading.

    If the figures are correct, per capita consumption of alcohol during "the noble experiment", after the initial shock in 1920-21, remained within a few points of the same even while alcohol was strictly prohibited! On average, every American was consuming 1.2 gallons of pure alcohol--and it was banned nationwide.

    On the other hand, according to the same source, per capita spending on booze actually increased--why? Well duh--If you want something and it's illegal, it gets more expensive. Consider the price of articles smuggled into jails.

    Consider the Bronfmans. Or here's a quicker reference. By making sure they shipped quality whiskey across the border, the Bronfman family became millionaires--and who could blame them? Warning--that last linked article is offensive to me, and to my intelligence--you may or may not find it so.

    Now it doesn't do to go with data from only one source, especially on a contentious issue like this. Let's check that out again: Hypothesis is that during the Noble Experiment, per capita consumption of alcohol ended up roughly the same, (untaxed) money spent on booze, from what became Seagram's finest to bathtub rotgut that'd turn you blind, actually went up.

    The government didn't get their cut. People had to shell out more of their hard-earned bread to buy their drug of choice, and the dodgy quality made indulging risky. Who profited from prohibited alcohol?

    So, let me back up figures on that:

    Whoops--not here. This site, I think, is selling information false-to-fact. "Nearly everyone was addicted". Yeah, sure.

    Not here, either. While it supports my thesis and seems to be well researched, I'm trying to find a more academic source.

    This site doesn't have an academic tone, but it's fun to read and seems to carry some gravitas: Click here. It's a pro-alcohol site which includes well-reasoned (my opinion only) cautions against allowing incremental prohibition. It's professional-looking, reasonably current, the articles are thoroughly referenced, and all the links work.

    Y'know something? I've been scrabbling around for more figures for a long time here, and I'm getting tired of it. We were going to discuss the possibilty of a moderate approach to heroin, but this post is going off-track.

    So let it stand: Prohibition of alcohol raised prices, led to the mushroom growth of organized crime, increased civic corruption both in the government and among citizens, raised the price of illicit booze, and most importantly did not solve any of the problems it was brought in to cure. Argument welcome at the e-mail links on the right.

    So it seems logical that prohibition of heroin has raised the price, made addicts both criminals and social outcasts, and encouraged the sharing of needles. At the same time, most governments allow the sale of alcohol and tobacco, which are in themselves draining and disruptive to a degree in society.

    So why prohibit heroin? Especially in light of what other nations are doing (look at the bottom of the first page, then click here)?

    Is it the physical effects?

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the US National Institutes of Health, heroin's effect of use is much like any other drug. Basically, you get a rush. However, additional effects can include nausea, vomiting, and a slowing of heart and lung function--possibly to the point of death. It is not clear from this site whether this slowing is a result of overdose or a natural effect.

    Most of the long-term medical complications are associated with the injection of the drug under street conditions: Collapsed veins, immune system disease, and overdose are mentioned.

    So far, it seems to me that these effects don't actually have a lot to do with the use of the drug itself--more to do with the conditions of street drug use including dirty needles and the social effects of addiction. Two questions:

    1) Is the slowing of cardiac and lung function unto death related to normal use or overdose? Nicotine is known to produce accelerated heart function, but doesn't seem to kill anyone in controlled doses--while three drops of pure nicotine on your tongue would kill you.

    2) Do addicts reach a plateau--that is, if an addict were supplied with quality heroin in a measured dose, administered with clean needles, would they be able to put heroin out of their minds and lead a productive life?

    Has anyone else ever asked these questions?

    Perhaps we can find out. But that's for next time. For now, it seems like we know this much:

    Many of the worst effects of heroin use are to do not with the drug itself, but with the circumstances under which addicts are generally forced to live and self-administer.

    Several countries have shown net economic and social benefits from putting in place controlled-dose programs: Switzerland, and the Nederlands are putting controlled-supply programs in place. Australia (against the wishes of the Howard government) and Canada (against the wishes of another government entirely), have entered trial programs.

    (In Australia, addicts bring their own heroin to a safe injection site. In Canada, the idea is to supply the drug for free. The Australian site appears to be experiencing legal problems. The Canadian site was rather stupidly placed close to, among other things, a daycare centre and a rehab facility. Nontheless, it seems lives have been saved, and there seems to be a strong whiff of net benefit in the air.)

    Neither distributing heroin nor prohibiting it can cure the personal, social, and psychological problems that make drugs attractive in the first place.

    While addiction is definitely a long term effect, and involves physiological changes in the brain, I have yet to find support for the idea that one's brain becomes permanently addled as a result, or that the physical problems are anything other than environmental. Differing opinions welcome via e-mail links at right.

  • While searching the Bronfmans, I ran into this. Before you click--It's really quite unpleasant and stupid. The Ku Klux Klan must be laughing their pointy little heads off. It's just one of the most egregrious in a series of pages from conspiracy nuts and sites by the sort of people who speak "for the people".

  • This one's about addiction.

  • Here's a very scholarly paper about alcohol consumption and prohibition--it confused me until I realized that the the words "positive effect" meant that prohibition increased net consumption.

  • The Schaeffer Library of Drug Policy Seems fairly straightforward. Links include law reform sites and professional organizations.

  • A guide from the White House on how to sound "hip" while buying your heroin.

    A note on policy. This article highlights one of the fundamental problems:

    "U.S. officials have angrily criticized the Canadian policy of harm reduction."The very name is a lie," John Walters, the White House drug policy director, said in a telephone interview. "There are no safe injection sites." Walter said the United States would continue to treat drug abuse as a "deadly disease that shortens lives."

    What a good idea! If this disease were approached the same way the War on Drugs has been, no doubt the epidemic would end in a short while.

  • 20 January 2004

    I've got it!

    Ive been struggling to find a true direction for this blog. Most of my classmates (see Links) have well-developed, sensible-sounding theses, if in some cases really, really specialised.

    Conversely, I wander all over the map, whenever possible.

    So let this be my declaration of intent: This will be the centrist blog, but beyond that I stricty and narrowly describe myself, and my blog, as generalist.

    This isn't a political definition, nor some sort of libertarian manifesto. The objective is to slide a knife into argument and pry its blocks apart. To use Friar Guillaume's razor to shave the barber.

    And remember that when shaving, it helps to sometimes keep one's tongue in one's cheek.

    In that spirit, I present this.

    Welcome back! How've you been?


    Look, if you're not going to participate in this discussion I guess I'll have to carry it on my own.

    Right, then.


    Let's consider addiction. What is addiction? Physical, mental, psychological? Sociable?

    My own definition: A thing becomes an addiction when it begins to impinge on your living a normal life, for a given definition of normal.

    So a man who drinks five drinks or more of alcohol per night, but maintains an active (not athletically, but socially) and healthy life, provides for his wife and kiddies manages to plan for a future beyond his own lifetime, and doesn't cause the neighbours to shun himself or his family is probably doing okay. He may be an alcoholic, but it's not a wasting disease (yes, this discussion goes for women too, but I'm easier not having to worry about which term I used last).

    Conversely, a man who doesn't keep liquor in the house, but spends his every spare hour on the computer surfing Jane's Guide in a locked room in his underwear would appear to have a fairly serious problem.

    1) Can we more-or-less agree that addiction is more about effect than cause?

    There are those who would criticize the drinker for taking risks with his health. But quite frankly it's his life, and if he wants to crap out at fifty-five or so, it's really his business, and he might well live a long, long time.

    I'll also stipulate that dying at fifty-five isn't a good decision to make for your family, but many people plan very carefully to die much later, only to have their plans abruptly cancelled by what insurance companies might call "acts of living", or perhaps "near-life experiences" (An industry which basically takes the short end of a bet that you're gonna die some day and still makes money could call it anything).

    Can we then also agree on something else? 2) No-one ever wanted to become an addict!

    No-one ever said "Boy, I'd sure like to be unable to stop ingesting a substance that makes me irritable, murderous and paranoid when I'm not on it, and impotent and paranoid when I am!"

    But we haven't yet quite defined addiction. In the examples above, one man regularly consumes a substance that is poisonous to the human body and has nasty aftereffects and long-term side effects. Nontheless, he appears to be a productive and caring, capable member of society.

    The second sits at a computer, cutting himself off from the rest of his life, to indulge in mental fantasies which weaken his relationship with his family, friends, and others--including the police when the neighbours eventually call them about the odd smell.

    (In another booze example--what of the man who drinks once a year, but typically wakes up in a Mexican jail with a wedding band and a worrying rash?)

    It could be argued that the alcoholic has no choice--he's physiologically and psychologically addicted. Then what excuse has the porn-consumer?

    Lest you be concerned I am neither anti-porn, nor anti-alcohol, and believe in moderation in all things--including moderation.

    We're really not done with the definition yet: So an addiction is any behaviour which has a seriously detrimental effect on you and on your life, but which you are nevertheless 3) unable or unwilling to stop?

    I include "or unwilling" because most addicts are so changed by their habit that they don't really want to stop. I didn't really want to quit smoking--any of the times I failed, and even the two times I've really succeeded. I expect I'll still have the odd one from time to time.

    Porn addiction I don't truly believe in . I mean, it seems easy to me to walk away from a computer and not feel compelled to look at naughty pictures. But it was a big deal to me when I stopped smoking, so what do I know?

    I didn't believe in gambling addiction, but I understand the pull. I stopped at the casino last night and headed for the door twenty-five dollars ahead. Ten feet from the entrance I fed forty dollars into a slot machine.

    But that was a choice I made. Not a well-thought-out choice. I knew what the choices were and went the wrong way. Anyone could do it, right?

    And that's what I come back to. When I drive through the lower east side and see the human wreckage swarming the streets. Some of these people didn't have the foggiest idea where something new could take them, and they sure as hell never thought they would wind up here.

    So I find it hard to believe in porn addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction--It's pretty easy to stop gambling once you've run out of money, sold your house, and otherwise ruined your life--I've never heard of anyone turning tricks to support a nasty slot machine habit.

    If porn is a problem, go back to dial-up internet service. It may not stop you dowloading dirty movies, but it'll take so long you'll lose er, um. . . interest. Yes, that's a male-specific reference. Women porn addicts don't appear to make the news much.

    Sex addiction--I suffered from a similar condition for years, it was called teenagerhood. And I learned that the urges are controllable--otherwise there'd be no reason to ever charge a man with rape. The behaviour is entirely up to the owner of the penis involved. When sexual urges go beyond that boundary we consider said penis-owner to be insane.

    So conditions (1), (2), and (3) leave us with a huge mix of addicts and posers. Can we refine our definition of addiction any further? Perhaps it's just the cumulative result of a series of unfortunate choices?

    But that's too close to our starting point: From some point of origin, an addict makes choices that result is his or her engaging in detrimental behaviour they feel unable to stop.

    So how now to differentiate real addiction from the endless stream of whiners?

    Why would a man or woman with things at stake jeopardize said things (and people), for fantasy? And from personal observation, fairly pale fantasy at that.

    Ah--there's the rub. Perhaps addiction is the wasted and perverted shadow of a dream. Of being popular, of being loved, of being pain-free in our souls. Consumers get into addiction for a feeling--and I think it's the same feeling. Silencing that thing that wrenches deep in your guts when someone in the world shits on you. The thing that makes "puppies cry and men commit suicide" (R. A. Heinlein).

    And the worst of it is that in every addiction, from smoking to porn, to crack, the merchants sell it until we can't come up with the price anymore. Then they leave us in the gutter and move on to other customers--often our kids. Addiction is the sacrifice of a future for the price of a dream.

    Nice ₤µ¢Ж!ή€ poetry, eh?

    The point is that:
    1) Addiction is the result of a bad choice.
    2) It's involuntary--that is, it is no longer a choice for the victim, or the choice is intensely painful to make.
    3) It is detrimental to the addict, and to their near and dear.
    4) It is the effects that make true addictions so hideous.

    More on this in due time--I'm making my way somewhere with this, but it's a long one:

    My sister opposes decriminalization of drugs, my roomate espouses legalizing heroin. both define the moral correctness of their positions by what the legality or illegality of drugs says about their homeland, and by the social position of addicts.

    True to the (slightly left of) centreist thrust of this blog, I'm trying to find a position thta represents the facts and will resonate with a large number of people.

    But I have to leave off here. I'm worried that I'm becoming addicted to spilling my random and unimportant thoughts into cyberspace--talk about masturbatory activity!

    And I was the putz who worried that I wouldn't have anything to say.

    Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission--a friendly site.

    A note: I was looking for a picture of the Eastside slum area to link to--didn't find one. Perhaps the Premier had all such pictures wiped from search engines in order to impress the Olympic Comittee?

    Perhaps someone would prefer that we just forget that this is more than just a nightmare memory. The Missing-women killer (I know his name, but think it deserves forgetting) isn't the only predator out there. They prey on the weak, and the addicts are, in so many ways, the weakest of us.

    18 January 2004

    Am I prescient? Today's headline at

    Yesterday's post was very long and rambled somewhat--one of the minor hazards of writing while examining life with "perspective on perspective". To understand what that means, check the Links section here.

    17 January 2004

    Foreword: This is a long post--seems like I can't write as succinctly as I'd like to about this. My apologies. If you have an urgent appointment somewhere, perhaps you should just skim the headlines and get going.

    Don't say you weren't warned

    So here's the thing. I am very, very torn right now. It's all about space.

    Space is a commodity, like most things, and like most commodities it's bought sold and traded. And like some commodities it is (on this planet anyway) in increasing demand, but slowly decreasing supply.

    Estimates on the number of babies born in the last twenty-four hours vary enormously, but if we accept the informed opinion of the US Census Bureau, probably the most thoroughly researched and current major census available, then this many babies were born last night.

    Dr. Malthus posited that the Earth could support about 2 billion human beings. Of course, this was in the eighteenth century, and Dr. Malthus had no foreknowledge of the tremendous improvements in efficiency that would happen throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We became able to grow more food, for longer, in a greater range of climes.

    So here we are in the year of Our Lord, or 2004 AD, or ACE or whatever. The population of the Earth is 6,375,882,069 or so. We're probably good until around 2029 or so, when we'll finally hit eight billion (barring war, rapture or something else stupid).

    At the moment, things seem, by and large, to be improving. The bottom 10% of the world’s population is worse off than it’s ever been, and the top 10% is wallowing in wealth. But the vast span of “not-too-bad” in between has never been wider. People in the middle are getting along okay, and there are more of them.

    The point of all this geopolitical economics is that at some point, population may outpace our ingenuity. Then what? Well, if we’ve been wise, the human race will have prepared for that, by investing in space.

    If we are lucky enough to have a few powerful leaders with vision and forethought, the human race will have been busy preparing, seeding itself on new worlds—Mars is only the beginning. But we seem to be lacking in vision and forethought—why else does George Bush Jr. appear to be the sole high-profile proponent for a Mars colony?

    This worries me. On one hand we should be heading for Mars, and kudos to Bush for seeing that. But there are other nations as capable. Is the lack of competition due to lack of funds? No--per capita, space travel starts comparitively cheap and gets cheaper as the benefits over time become clear. I think it's about vision, and lack thereof.

    The lack of vision in modern Western societies has partially been accompanied by the decline of religious affiliation—not that the two are necessarily connected. They may both be effects, stemming from some sort of general cynicism, rather than one being a cause and the other the effect. But religion has this going for it: its true practice demands that one consider the future, not for next week, not for a lifetime, but beyond the span of our own lives. To be a true religionist, one must actively believe in something larger than oneself.

    Why is that of any concern? Well, look at the sort of cretinous leadership we’re getting: People whose vision is limited to how best to fool voters into electing them for the next five years. The voters are little better, voting themselves consistently bigger slices of pie, pandered to by desperate and power-hungry men, knowing the cost to the future, and apparently not caring.

    Most administrations in democracies limit their planning to five or ten years. This is more than ludicrous: “Men who think in lifetimes are of no use to statesmanship”-- H.G. Wells. I for one would vote for a person who promised to raise taxes 5%, but have a base on Mars by 2010.

    But we don’t need to raise taxes. We just need the will. President Kennedy declared in 1961 that the US would send a man to the moon within a decade. It was done in eight years—why? Because the people of the United States believed in the mission—they believed in something bigger than themselves. Not a lot bigger—this was “the national dream” for the Cold War. But they believed that they as a society were greater than the sum of individuals.

    Remember, this was back in the days of I-dunno-let’s-build-one-and-test-it engineering. There was little computer simulation, and almost nothing was known about the hazards or rewards of space travel. But they did it.

    Then came the eighties. The Me generation took the helm, and started hiring people whose only promise was to lower taxes, regardless of the cost that would impose on future generations. Ronald Reagan became the first president to introduce a trillion-dollar deficit, and has been surpassed only by. . .well you can look it up.

    By the way, why did they name an airport after someone who made air travel noticeably dicier by firing the air traffic controllers? Sort of like having a GWB Peace Prize, no?

    Due to the limited vision of even the most demogogue-ish of these people, the US got the space shuttle; a boring and timid shadow that, while utterly necessary, should have been developed as an adjunct to the moon base or the space habitat. In part thanks to the financial and visionary constraints on that program, the people have lost the sense of drive and purpose—why pay for something that effectively is going nowhere?

    So it’s a refreshing relief to see this ambition flare again in the hearts of Americans. But did it have to be this particular president? Yeah, it did. Sigh.

    But why only him? China is mumbling about putting a person on the moon (although this begs the question of why they’re collecting a ton of aid money from other nations). India is toying with the idea of manned flights, and Europe is trying to establish common vision. Marc Garneau has said Canada can go to Mars—as a technological payload passenger on a US probe only—for the cost of a small pizza per Canadian (What could they do for the price of a large? I have a coupon, if that’ll help . . . Can I get that delivered within thirty minutes?).

    Why do we circumscribe ourselves like this?

    If George Bush, or those like him, establish the first exo-atmospheric stations of humanity, they won’t be for the sake of human expansion, but for geopolitical advantage—and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s up to the people who do the dirty work to decide what something should be used for (not legalese, just a fact).

    If, on the other hand, you believe that space should be the territory of humans, not just citizens of country X, if you believe that space should be reserved for peaceful purposes as much as possible, and if, most of all, you believe that humanity has a destiny beyond this horizon and this ball of rock, sea, and sand, then press your political representatives to recognize your vision.

    Let's aspire to something bigger than a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage. The universe is just above your head.

    "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"--Robert Browning

    As for me, I’ve got a small suitcase packed and ready for the day they open up Mars for colonization.

    The Mars Society
    Mars Institute
    NASA and Mars

    If you insist on staying within Earth orbit, just remember: "It's a lifetime commitment, recovering the satellites."

    14 January 2004

    But enough about me, let's talk about you for a bit. . .

    Well if you're not going to contribute to this discussion, perhaps I'd better continue:

    Why is it that every other driver on the road is doing something illegal or impolite? I figured it out:

    In my hometown there are about two million people. Let's assume that 1,000,000 of 'em have driver's licenses (whether or not they deserve them is an entirely different kettle of fish). And of that number, let's stipulate that about a third are on the road at any given time.

    So that's 300,000 drivers in the Greater City Area at any time (yeah, I know that at 2:00 AM the bars let out and the proportions change). 2820 square kilometres is the area of the GCA.

    So 300,000/2820 = 106 and a bit. That's one hundred drivers in every single square kilometre. That'd be a car every 100 metres or so. Since we're actually confined to the relatively small area that's actually paved road in order to do our travelling, it's no wonder the roads feel crowded!

    Now of those 100-odd (and I do mean odd) drivers--50% are below average in driving ability to start with!

    It's not unreasonable to assume that 20 drivers who are normally good drivers are at this very moment making a minor but genuine mistake.

    I'm not talking here about people who decide to pass tractor-trailers within a kilometre of the exit ramp they need, then cut them off to make that exit. Simply about people who genuinely consider where they're going and are customarily courteous, but for some reason (such as having been cut off by some moron anxious to be one spot closer to the red light) have to make unplanned changes to their itinerary.

    So they're out there, making that overly-fast lane jump--possibly without signalling. Add that to the 50%, and you get 70% of drivers at any time are making genuine mistakes or driving like morons 'cause they are.

    Now let's throw in the cell phone users. They bloody well are a hazard at the wheel, and those of you sitting there shaking your silly heads and thinking how dumb I am know it, deep down in your shrivelled souls--don't take my word for it, have a look here and here.

    Just had to add this!

    Your choice--I don't have to like it. But be aware: When you phone at the wheel, you're saying you'd rather risk other people's lives than have to be alone with your thoughts for minutes at a time.

    Or maybe every idiot I see yakking on a cell phone (usually while applying make-up, changing the CD, or trying to operate their cute little GPS) is actually a paramedic or doctor, who desperately needs to be reachable in the event of an emergency--I hope so, 'cause one day I'm not gonna bother hitting the brakes when such a moron swings unsignallingly into my lane.

    Whoo! Sorry--I got a little wired there. Truthfully, I do believe that there are other activities (Whopper-chomping, mascara-smearing, and waving a single digit in outrage at the car beside you among others) that are almost as distracting as cell phones. And here comes mobile internet. . . But I digress.

    Assuming that there are 19 drivers out there using their death machines to reach 1-900-SPANK-ME. Now we have 89% of the drivers out there are doing something stupid or involuntarily dangerous.

    And maybe just 9% of the people out there are just genuine deliberate bad drivers. They could be good--they've got the skills, but they choose to blow yellow lights at ninety in playground zones 'cause they're both pathalogically stupid and inconsiderate.

    That's 98% of the people out there! And since I'm known to make the odd mistake from time to time...

    It's a genuine miracle that any of us get home at all!

    "Hang on!" said the reader "That's only 99%!"
    "Ah" said the writer "I was wondering if you'd notice. The remaining 1% is people like this."

    If you're squirming in your seat because you think you recognized yourself--don't drive anywhere. Click here instead.

    It'll keep you busy until I can get safely home.

    13 January 2004

    Just had to get this out there.

    Rush Limbaugh getting support from the ACLU. How sweet!

    This is the "nutball" organization that R.L. has been abusing from his pulpit for years. That he runs to them when his own chestnuts are in the fire is the purest of irony. I think the group should take this opportunity to have him write five hundred times "Rush Limbaugh says 'Thanks' to the ACLU".

    By the way, if anyone wonders why I'm getting news from a comic, I'd like to point out that Doonesbury has won a Pullitzer--something Limbaugh hasn't been able to do, for all his "revelations".

    And as the strip itself points out, they get their facts right 97% of the time--about eight times more than Rush.

    Unfortunately, it looks as though Limbaugh will be allowed to continue to contaminate the radio waves. Turns out that his outlook actually didn't have anything to do with drugs--he really is just an @$$#Ω₤€!

    Support NPR!

    12 January 2004

    Oops. All this time I've been yakking away at you, and I haven't had the courtesy to offer you my e-mail address for feedback.

    11 January 2004

    Blog Trek II, the Search for Dreck

    Okay, we're back, with a refreshing beverage.

    Briefly, on the subject of alcohol: Those who feel that alcohol is a great evil and wish to ban it from the world will get exactly what they deserve: They will not get to have a drink. And they will have only themselves to blame.

    Back to my survey of blogs of the world. I haven't figured out a way to link this to my last posting, but that's where you'll find the first six entries.

    7) I went here at random, because it was on the Blogger feature list. Short and to the point. Lists small software applications. No idea if it links to adware or other undesireable stuff. I like this one, it might contain something useful.

    8) Went to because it caught my interest. I have to say, this is a readable, enjoyable, and factual-sounding work. It interests me partly because I have little or no sympathy for the homeless. In my country, where every citizen pays damn near forty percent income tax, we have a socialized welfare system. What good does my spending that money do if people won't use the system?

    Of course, de-institutionalization of the mentally handicapped, and cuts in spending on behalf of the federal and provincial governments have helped.

    But what, will someone please tell me, is with all the panhandlers with dogs? When I see a cardboard sign that says "Hungry, Please help." held by a twenty-year-old with a mutt, I always want to give him a recipe for dog stew--solving both problems. Is that unkind of me? If the owner's hungry, how's the dog getting along?

    Actually, I used to advise the dog to eat the person, but they so rarely listen.

    9) Warning: This site contains pictures of nude, hairy women that the blog owner apparently finds titillating. If nude pictures or hairy women bother you, don't go to:

    Naked Hippies and Free Love

    A quote:

    "remember the nineteen sixties...the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms? MDMA? the amazing posters? When picking up hitchhikers in my converted VW bus was cool. I longi for those simpler times, when total strangers would become friends faster than you could light a joint, when we camped in the desert with strangers and no one was a serial killer, once my girlfriend and I were hitchhiking out west and this old dude in a new Cadillac picked us up and we had an awesome ride to Colorado...he wasn't a pervert or a that was why we called it the GOOD OLD DAYS : )"

    MDMA--remember it? Some of the readers are on it right now! Not any of the ones in hospitals or institutions, not the ones who graduated to other things such as heroin, and not the ones who died. But some of them.

    "Amazing posters"--take some more ecstacy, then look at a real estate advert; that'll bring it back to you.

    Picking up hitchikers in your combie was cool. . .I assume that since selling out and buying a Lexus, you no longer do that?

    No serial killers. Do I really have to address this? Oh well. Lessee--Does the (1969) name Charles Manson ring any bells? How about (1962) the Boston Strangler?

    How about Kent State, the Chicago Democratic Convention?

    And while I'm fully in favour of sexual permissiveness and a reasonable degree of promiscuity (sexual favours offered to me by attractive young ladies are unlikely to be refused), the words "AIDS" "herpes", and "condylomata acuminata" are still in the dictionary.

    (Kids! Still wondering what the hell "condylomata acuminata" is? Ugh! Gross, huh? And like those other words, once it arrives, it stays. And this is, in part, due to "free love" without free condoms--no matter what your folks told you about a family curse).

    Why did they call it the "Good Old Days?" Well actually, those living through those days (especially the undemocratically small portion of people on two sides of an uncertain line in Vietnam) didn't.

    Why would I bother to read the blog of someone who's still stuck thirty--sorry--forty years behind us in a past that never existed?

    By the way--consider this when you think someone "oughta make a law" to prevent or stop a sexual behaviour or practice: There were laws against this. The legal term was "miscagenation", and it's still in use by the spiritual heirs of 'Appy Adolph Hitler.

    God I hope the next site's better. Perhaps another beer would help?

    Okay, back with another one. In the words of Jean-Luc Picard: "Let's see what's out there."

    9)The Knicks Front Office: A site for serious fans. Which I'm not. Looks good to my untutored eye, though.

    I follow the Noble Game (hint: Played on ice and rarely involves dancing) from time to time, but the slow corruption of the franchise is taking its toll. No there aren't any halftime dancers. No cheerleaders either. You get the game, the whole game (when it's not blacked out so that the cable companies can gouge for the pay-per-view), and nothing but the game. Forever and ever eh-men!

    10)story of a girl: If I'd stumbled on this third, instead of tenth, this would have been a lot shorter list as I'd have given up. I can't tell if any of it's original. Most of it (if original) is innocuous poetry of the adolescent calibre. If it's not original, then the site is nothing but quotes and excerpts from instant messages. Fundamentally dull, mild adolescent angst again.

    On the good side, it's updated regularly, and some of the excerpts are readable.

    So I have yet to find any reason to post blogs. Still, I think I'm loosening up. The tone seems to be getting better. Anyway, that last beer tasted funny--it tasted like another one. So I'm going to blog off now.

    I'll leave you with this, for no adequately explored reason.

    A Survey of Blogging, Part I

    Okay, so I decided to do my own little blog survey, to see what other people post, and if possible why they thought the rest of the world might be interested.

    1) Blog number one was written in praise of Michael Savage, of Savage Nation. Savage is the usual whacko radio host: He reduces complex issues to clear-cut choices in stark black-and-white, to the delight of people everywhere who are too lazy to read a newspaper. It is not clear why the blogger in this instance feels that Savage needs a second Web site. There seems to be no original content, just links to the radio show.

    When it comes to radio, I'll stick to Car Talk, thanks. At least the hosts admit they're wrong occasionally.

    2) I find life to be rather humorous: Pretty much anything but. An excerpt:

    "Wednesday, January 07, 2004
    Freakin' ey man! I woke up today around... 915am about. And ever since then, things just haven't been good. Not good at all. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. In case you're worried, I'm all good. But things just aren't. Sorry I can't go into detail. But I choose not to spill the beans out in public. So please respect the privacy. God bless!"

    Why blog if you're deliberately not saying anything?

    "I'm sick and tired of characters in plays who go on and on about how they can't communicate. If they can't communicate the least they can do is shut up."
    Tom Lehrer

    3)Unknown Blog: If I remember my high-school German, today's entry essentially says "Nothing much today, come back next month, when I will hopefully have some news."

    Right, sure. That one'll certainly go in my bookmark file.

    4)With A Cutting Edge: Kind of interesting for political junkies. Certainly anti-Bush. More moderate than Savage Nation. And I like the fact that the author, John Herbert, cites many different sources of several sorts.

    Unfortunately, the blog's tagline is "The assorted ramblings and ruminations of John Herbert". But the blog actually contains little of Herbert--it's almost entirely links. So rather regretfully, I have to conclude that Herbert's not telling us anything we can't learn on our own elsewhere.


    i've thot bout it long and hard last nite.
    tried many waes to comfort myself.

    seein those words in yer fridae,
    dey hurt so much.
    i dont noe why.
    but i felt sour in my eyes.

    i twisted and turned.
    unable to fall aslp.
    kept thinkin bout you.

    i thot bout e time we spent tgt.
    those words u used to sae.
    and now,
    u are usin it on others.

    its hard to accept.
    dat u are falling fer her.
    but i'll learn to tk thgs easy.
    juz like how u did,
    when u found out about me and her.

    Wow! It's badly spelt, bad grammar, and bad adolescent-sounding verse all in one miserable ball of angst!

    I sympathize--I used to write stuff like that when I was fourteen. Of course mine was better spelt and I hid it in a drawer--but I could have been wrong about that.

    6) I went looking for Rip Van Halen's blog. I know the dude, and he can be pretty out there, so I was looking for a chance to Rip him up. Didn't find it, though. However, I did stumble on Dave Barry's blog. No way to tell if it's really his, but the writing has that flavour.

    Barry, a published author, may not be saying anything new on his blog site, but at least it has punctuation. Many of links are seriously expired, but some of them are hysterical: Ever wondered, ladies, what takes place in the men's?

    That's six--over half. Time for a beer. Today's refreshing beverage of choice is Éphémère, made by Unibroue. If I could invest in things (I can't, investing takes money), I'd invest in these guys.

    Back in a few.

    08 January 2004

    So what is there that I want you, Dear Reader, to know about me? By that I mean, what is there that it's fair that you should know before reading whatever I've written?

    First, my pledge: I will be honest. I won't lie to you, won't beef up a story or puff up my achievements (such as they are) in order to sound more interesting.

    What's to tell? I'm a single white male a shade past thirty, Aussie by birth and Canadian by grace. I have sporadic fits of Catholicism, mingled with bouts of Atheism. Member of a tiny minority group (leftie). Optimist by temperament but careful to keep it under wraps in this fashionably cynical age. Hopeful; I have faith in the glorious heights and venial depths of humankind, and believe that given the option, most people make the right choices about the stuff that really matters.

    I've flipped burgers, joined an army, driven tractor-trailers and forklifts, shaped steel, worked leather, cut grass, thrown garbage, shoveled shit, and so on. Once I got tired of the amazing variety and frequent monotony of manual labour, I determined to return to college.

    Electronics, I thought, was my first calling. Fat chance. Mathematics, as my teacher used to say, is a tool kit. Some of us keep it right handy under the kitchen sink. Mine, though, is downstairs in the basement, in the little closet by the furnace. Yeah, that's it; right there under the camping gear. Hey--isn't that my old motorcycle jacket? Bet it still fits, lemme try it on . . .

    You get the idea.

    So a couple of years ago I applied to a professional writing program. My first difficulty has been getting it through my head that anybody might pay me to write. That's what much of the program is about. And this blog is part of one of the last program courses.

    Which brings us back here.

    Politically I lean left, but pragmatically so. The unfortunate thing about most political structures in North America is that we generally have a choice of two parties, policies, or what-have-you. In order to be seen as different, two parties will support the same thing in different words. They'll also demonise each other.

    This means that debate becomes a matter of arguing who's Right or Left on an issue, and what that association is supposed to mean. But generally, the truth, and folks' feelings, on most issues lies somewhere in the middle.

    Our belief systems are like trees. They are supported and nourished by our root values. When we think the root values are threatened, we often react violently.

    I need to confess--this isn't very interesting, even to me. The tone isn't really what I wanted either.

    I'm really more interested in you, but this is monoblogue, not diablogue.

    Tell you what, I'll hang it up for the evening and see what the morning brings.

    Meanwhile, why don't you check out this band's site?

    If you liked that, this site has more.

    An addendum: We're learning how to add links.

    Why Metroblog? Click here.

    My own '61 Metropolitan is red, white, and mostly disassembled at the moment.

    Okay, so here we are--wherever that may be for you.

    A few introductory words: This is part of a college course I'm taking, and for me it's an exercise in keeping an open mind. My feeling up to now is that blogging is the cult of the individual taken to extremes. I mean, what can anyone possibly say or do out here that'll make the faintest difference in a hundred years or so?

    We are all small. We fret and strive our hundred years or so and then vanish. Isn't our energy better devoted to working toward something more important--or is it really so vital to call out to each other "I am here"?

    In that spirit, I hope you might find whatever I post here briefly thought-provoking or possibly amusing, nothing more.

    Hope you're having a good day or night.