Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

One hundred four slaves and counting

giant freakin’ hamster wheel

Ok, so I was paying my electric bill today. Now, you might expect that this is where I complain about how the evil electric company is charging me usurious rates and how unfair it is. I don’t do that, because I am not a freaking commie. I don’t think the answer to any “unfairness” is my life is more involvement from my nurturing federal government.

However, Marxism made some valid points about capitalist excess. Despite what certain economist tell us, consumption is not intrinsically ethical, and more importantly, consuming for the sake of consuming is not virtuous, but evil. I believe in the free market, reigned in by responsibility of each individual participating. Plants, animals, and resources disappear to make room for my fat butt; I’d better consume thoughtfully.

So, anyway, I noticed my electric bill is 20KWH a day. So quick math yields that that is 26 HP hours. One human power is about 1/4 of horsepower if they don’t mind sweating a bit. So, I use 104 man hours a day. To support my lifestyle takes 104 slaves a day.

Now, I am pretty viciously pragmatic pro-capitalist. I believe in what many consider a truly out there level of laissez-faire Objectivism. If slavery takes place between consenting adults and is not removed from market forces (i.e. you can’t stop your slaves from learning to read, for instance), I really don’t give a rat’s tail if there is slavery out there. It’s going to be there anyway. Escorts may be private contractors, but typical street corner whores are not. They are slaves who belong to their pimp. Some people will always be willing to enter slavery and others always willing to be master over others. Making these things illegal does not prevent them; it only makes it harder to offer the victims even a modicum of legal protection. Far better for it to be legal and legislated. So, the 104 slaves isn’t what bothers me.

What bothers me is that I am not getting my 104 slaves worth. I pay for these 104 man hours of energy. Well, if I had 3 slaves, I wouldn’t even need electricity. I wouldn’t need a fridge for instance, as I’d have no reason to store food. My slave could get a day’s worth of food every morning because he has nothing better to do than cook and cooking related tasks all day anyway. I could cook everything with a wood stove and have slave wander around town all day picking up discarded wood to burn all day. I have access to the power of a 104 slaves, and yet, I still have to go to the downstairs bathroom to get toilet paper when I run out. Totally unacceptable.

Now, my point here is not that slavery is good. Despite what I said about thinking that slavery should be legal and regulated, I wouldn’t keep slaves. (Smoking is legal and regulated, I don’t do that either.) I hate slavery, I think it destroys the slave from the inside out and the master from the outside in. My point is that I am not getting nearly enough help around the house for the amount of power I am purchasing.

Case in point my fridge. My fridge uses around 7.2 Kwh a day, or 9.65 HP hours (calculator here), which is 38.62 man hours. So to keep my milk cold, and my leftovers chilled, 39 people would have to be slaving away for for an hour each. That’s retarded. This is one of the reasons I want a Sunfrost. It uses 3.35 man hours a day. My foot print on the earth is 104 slaves a day. I could cut that by 40% just by getting a better fridge.

My personal consumptive goal is for my house to use no more than 72 man hours a day. (That 1 man hour per person.) Which is 18 hp, which 13 KW hours a day. I could happily go under that, but thats my goal. Which, of course, I can’t meet in this apartment.

Anyway, I hope this has been instructive for everyone. The slave math is really easy: Kilowatt hours X 1.34 = HP. HP X 4 = Man power. Pull out last month’s electric bill and see how many slaves are running in the giant hamster wheel to keep your lights on.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A letter to God

This is not a flippant thing that I am about to do. I think a lot of people who care about me are really confused about what I believe, so I am going to give you all a view into a letter to God that I am sincerely writing as well as posting. If you, the blog readers, think you have an answer that can backed up, please feel free to answer any of the questions below in a comment.

Dear God,

I don’t get you. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten you. I know people say this is because you can’t be gotten, but I don’t buy that. Even if I never understood you, thats what friends do, they try to understand where each other are coming from. People tell me that you want to be my friend, and I guess I want to be yours. I say “I guess” because I am not really sure. I hear that you offer a love like no other, but you seem to charge a price like no other as well. The US Military (my employer) says I must offer my life for them. This I must do only once, and often as not, should the opportunity arise it will be to save my comrades. You demand not a single, ill-though, impassioned second to save those I love, but every second, of every moment, of everyday, for the rest of my life. My job demands my life but once. You demand it forever, in this existence and the next.

All that I know about you is contained in my heart, the words of those around me, the world around me, and the Bible. Though emotions give life color and verity, they make a poor compass. I will not trust my heart to know you, not if I believe what you say in the Bible. You say the heart is “deceitfully wicked”. I can’t trust what is deceitfully wicked to guide me. And the heart is capricious, loving someone one moment and hating them the next. Thats why a good man speaks from his mind not his heart, which you also say: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”

The words of those around me are sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, but regardless of specific instance, generally useless when its about the spirit. Truth is not true because of consensus, it either conforms to reality or it doesn’t. Besides if my heart is wicked why are other peoples’ hearts different? I cannot be alone in my sin: “For all have sinned…” When it comes to you, everyone has an agenda and I can’t trust anybody who claims your name to say to me only what benefits you and not what benefits the speaker.

The world around me is beautiful. I love the trees and ocean. I like to ride my bike in the roasting sun and have the wind blow the sand stinging against my legs. I see around me beauty and order. Because the world you have made is full of order I see man’s greatest dream over my head everyday. We always wanted to fly. With the physics you made as part of the universe you created and the minds you gave us we figured out how to make great tubes of aluminum fly through the air not as stupid bullets, but guided in flight by our hands, obeying our constant whim. Science, the systematic study of a rational universe, is the greatest tool we have ever found. Because with science, we can make an airplane fly, and our ancestors could not. Yet… you and science that describes your creation are not in agreement. You claim to have made the earth in 7 days, and the genealogies you provide in Scripture tell us that the earth is about 7000 years old. The science that gives us such a window into the depth and power of the Mind that designed all says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

I trust the descriptions of this rational universe we live in to be true everyday. Every day I use my front door because I trust that I still can’t walk through my wall. Every week I put gas in my car and expect to get around 30 mpg. This is because I trust that the description of the combustion of hydrocarbons with oxygen producing CO, CO2, water vapor, and l trace amounts of various things will function the way they always have since the 1600’s when we began to study such things. But the science that flawlessly describes the 60 cycle alternating current which is invisibly turning my monitor off and on with clock-like precision mysteriously fails totally to date the earth I live on.

Contained in my blood is DNA, which I have always believed that you were the author of. The ability to even visualize this DNA did not exist until 50 years ago, and I’ve thought us blessed that we could have this lens into how “fearfully and wonderfully made” that we are. My father, dying of a virus, may yet be saved by the executed knowledge of DNA to create a cure. The tens of of thousands of people cured by the recombinant DNA created were saved by man doing his best to manipulate the physics you created. Yet this knowledge points to evolution. The more we know about DNA the more man appears to be related to African Apes. False conclusions show themselves in false results, but recombinant DNA heals. How can it be so repeatably, veritably right in all regards but this one?

Finally, the Bible, my source of meaning and context since childhood. The Bible I have is a Protestant Bible. It does not contain the Apocrypha, because that is not part of the Protestant tradition. The Catholic Bible does contain it, because of the Council of Trent in the 1500’s, over a millennium after it was written, decided it too was canon. But it wasn’t written when it happened. Your word was written 50 to 100 years after the events it describes happens often by people who weren’t there. Why? Why would wait a century to write your inspired word? If the writers were writing your words, why was the canonicity of many unestablished till the 400’s? Then, a more then a millennium later at Trent, the Catholic Church had to take a stand. Luther’s sola scriptura meant for the first time the Catholics had decide what was scripture (since prior to this tradition and papal bulls were equal in authority to scripture).

God, this looks horribly like humans, not like you. Your omnipotence seems sorely lacking in all these proceedings, as clearly as it is lacking in the actions of those who claim to act in your name. Please answer these questions, they confuse me very much

Sincerely,

The lost sheep

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Americans Hate Freedom

I realized something today.

Americans hate freedom.

Now, this statement will offend some. They will cry out, “We are the freest nation on earth,” “Americans love freedom,” and “Americans love freedom so much they will fight for the freedom of others.” I say, bologna.

As to the first: “We are the freest nation on earth.” How would one measure that? Well, how about percentage of the population incarcerated? Communist China has a population of 1.3 billion with 1.5 million in prison. America has a population of 300 million with a total of 7 million in prison. (1.) The US has more people in prison, both as a percentage of the population and as raw numbers, than any other nation on earth. The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. (2.)

Perhaps it could be measured by the amount of red tape through which people have to wade? Well, the tax code (which is not even considered part of the enormous US legal code) is 13,458 pages in total length. (3.)

Well, perhaps, our constitution would tell us. Our first Amendment promises us, among other things, free speech. However, according to Brandenburg vs. Ohio, the Federal government is allowed to stop speech which will result in lawlessness. (4.) Boy, that would make it hard to organize the Boston Tea party, wouldn’t it? Also limited by B vs O is speech which hurts peoples feelings and speech which causes discontentment with the existing government. Second amendment? Superseded by US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44. What about the 3rd and 4th Amendment? Canceled by eminent domain. (Yes, I am aware that the Bush signed a law that says owners must receive just compensation. How do we figure a fair sale price for that which is stolen?) 5th Amendment? Still good. Except for the eminent domain part. 6th Amendment? Speedy Trial. Need I say more? 7th Amendment? Still good. 8th? Not so much, if you end up as an American citizen in a black site prison (5.) (6.) 9th Amendment? If we don’t follow the constitution, why would rights listed elsewhere be followed? 10th Amendment? Thats, funny. That would mean that any federal power not mentioned in the US constitution belongs to the states. Like the alphabet soup of Federal agencies that dot our political landscape, for instance.

So, pretty much the whole Bill of Rights has gone down the crapper. What about the “War for Iraqi Freedom”? Don’t we love the people of the world so much we will fight for their freedom for them? See, that’s kinda funny, to say “fight for their freedom for them” We go to someone else’s country and say, “We are free. You will be like us, and we will smart-bomb everyone who disagrees.” If you are not free to disagree with the occupying US government, exactly how much freedom are we exporting? You can’t fight someone else’s war for freedom. Not won’t. CAN’T. Freedom is a choice. You can’t make someone be free. It’s like a toddler with a gun saying “Have fun, or else.” Not much fun is it?

If you look at a pie chart of government expenses (Provided conveniently by the US accounting office.)

Federal Budget Pie - where it goes

the government's deceptive pie chart

So, you can see that at least 50% of the spending of the government is social programs. However, the truth is somewhat higher. Many things which you might not consider social programs at first blush, in fact, ARE social programs. The Department of Agriculture administers the Food Stamp program, the WIC program, and makes subsidy payments to agri-industry. $17 billion to Cargill for instance. Not to bad for a company that made $88 billion in sales and is the second largest privately held company on earth. (7.) (8.) Things like that make the above charts a little optimistic.

After spending around 20 to 30 hours (over severals months) here it seems the cost break down is more like 70% handout, 15% defense, 10% debt, and 5% all other federal costs. But, I digress. An examination of social security is sufficient to make the point that Americans hate freedom. The purpose of social security is to take a portion of your income for the rest of your life to pay for the current users. When you need the system you trust that your kids and any recent immigrants will make enough money that their income will pay for your RV. There is a name for an investment system where each set of new investors pays the dividends of the previous investors. It’s called a Ponzi scheme. What if you don’t want to trust a bunch of strangers and the future economy to provide for you? Well, you can still do your own retirement… while paying for everyone else who doesn’t. You can’t love freedom and social security! If you love freedom, you have a problem taking money from other people against their will for yourself, and you have a problem having your money taken away from you to give to other people. Love of freedom and acceptance of coercion can not dwell within the same heart.

So, I conclude, Americans hate freedom. We love coercion. We love it with every part of our hearts. We love telling others what they must do so much, we will surrender our right to decide what we want to do. I could go on and on. But this is only the setup for what I really wanted to talk about today, which is WHY American’s hate freedom.

I can only come up with 2 basic reasons that a person would hate freedom:

1. Freedom is hard work

and

2. Fear of responsibilty.

(One) breaks down into hard physical work and hard mental work. Imagine a person who is not very smart and not born to money. If they want to retire they will have to work many, many hours at unrewarding jobs for many years. They will have to live in bad parts of town (to have low rent) and never drive a new car. This is hard, and not fun, but not as hard as the mental part. The poor person who is trying to save does not get to buy whatever they want, they have to think about every purchase. If they are unintelligent, this will be very time consuming, and again, not enjoyable. They will have to chose work carefully to not spend too much time and money getting to work everyday. They will not be able to vote for whichever politician they like, for they will have to consider things very carefully before they vote or their hard earned money will go away.

(Two) This one is about fear. A person who loves freedom has no scape goat. When they suffer from heart disease at the age of 29, they cannot sue Krispy Kreme. They cannot blame bad parenting, or poor schooling. They can only say, “I did this of my own freewill. I alone am responsible and I alone bear the consequences.” This is anathema to the average American.

I say again. Americans hate freedom and love coercion. Americans hate freedom because they are lazy and afraid.

Now this presents me with a conundrum. All my life I have studied the form of government. I mistakenly thought the important part of government was the form. I realized this was false with the following thought experiment: Who rules more democratically? The king who fears revolution or the president who does not? Obviously, the ruler who must obey the desire of the people or lose his job rules more democratically. The form is meaningless. People who love freedom will self correct any error in form. People who hate freedom will bring coercion upon themselves.

The question facing all government, be it family government of children, church government, or national government is not, “What is the form?” It is this: how do we make people love freedom? The purpose of government is force. (I hear liberals whining about this. I say to them, “Do you think people would pay for those social programs you love so much if no one made them? Government is force.”) Since you can’t force someone to be free, government can do nothing to encourage freedom other than allow it.

But where does that leave me, the little man who wants to make the world a better place? How can I personally encourage freedom? I can’t force anyone to take it. I can’t talk about it for if people desire freedom only because of my words, they aren’t really free.

The only answer I know is this: I must be free. I must enjoy freedom whenever I can. I must fight for my freedom and allow others to do the same. People can then see my life and choose whether they like what they see or not.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A confession

Its so much easier to define yourself by what you hate rather than what you love. Hate reveals almost nothing about the man who does the hating. A man may hate for many reasons, but he will only love because his heart moves him to do so. When you are honest with people about what you love you are honest at the most core level, you reveal your identity. I talk about what I hate so much specifically to avoid revealing my identity.

This is because I have something to hide. I grew up in the Fundamentalist Christian movement and came of age among radical charismatics. My friends and my memories are all made up of these people who are passionately religious, despite the fact they share opposite sides of the Christian path. I have betrayed them all to chase one thing.

That one thing is this: it is more important to me to know the truth than to belong to a group of people who claim they have it. Truth is more important to me than any person, group, or judgment. I decided to understand God by understanding martyrdom. I don’t really understand God, but I do have a handle on believing something so much that it was worth your very life. Truth is that which conforms to reality. Truth, I have decided is worth my life.

If this sounds beautiful, it can be. It is often very lonely. Truth, to me, is bigger and better than Faith. In fact, I hate faith. Faith is not an acceptable way to understand the world, it is merely a bridge to fill the gaps between what you know and what you don’t know. So that is my dirty secret…

I don’t believe anymore.

I still know what Christianity claims, I just don’t have faith in Christianity to represent God to me, or anyone else. To those who I have hurt by my pussyfooting around and talking about what I hate (blind faith) instead of what I love (searching out truth) I’m sorry. Its just hard to be open with people you care about. Only people you really love have the capacity to hurt you. I haven’t been open about this because I didn’t want to deal with the flak which will result. The statement “I don’t believe anymore” will make people who have previously claimed to love me suddenly reject me. People who have trusted my perspective for years will suddenly and ironically distrust the destination my perspective has taken me to.

For that cause I have hidden my disbelief for about 6 months to a year now. I could explain in detail exactly what I mean by “I don’t believe anymore.” Obviously, I still believe in some things. But I am not going to explain which right now. A precious few of my friends will read it and say, “If that is part of the road you have to walk, walk it well, and I will still be your friend.” Most however will chose one thing they want to know if I believe. They will ask. I will say yes or no, and they will decide if they are going to pray for me or weep helplessly depending on the question they ask.

I will say this about my love. I love truth. I love the search for truth. I love these things more than I love my own life.

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Associated Press: 100 Years of pure, unadultrated crap.

epa.gif

The following is a article of the AP newswire. This is pure swill. The skeptics thoughts in red

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

“at least 41 million” But as many as 42 million? Or as many as 150 million? Or as many as 41.5 million. Also, US population is 301 million. So 7%.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

“Parts per billion or parts per trillion” Well its only a 10,000% difference. Besides, which chemicals are measured in parts per billion, and which ones are measured in parts per trillion?

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

Who are these scientists, and what long-term consequences are they worried about?

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas — from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky.

24 major metropolitan areas out of how many studied? What specifically was studied for 5 months?

Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public “doesn’t know how to interpret the information” and might be unduly alarmed.

How do the drugs get into the water?

People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies — which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public — have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.

“researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals.” So, they found something and have no idea if it has any significance or not. “Recent studies” by who?
“Alarming effects…” like what?

“We recognize it is a growing concern and we’re taking it very seriously,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Members of the AP National Investigative Team reviewed hundreds of scientific reports, analyzed federal drinking water databases, visited environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230 officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation’s 50 largest cities and a dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller community water providers in all 50 states.

Here are some of the key test results obtained by the AP:

_Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city’s watersheds.

At what concentration?

_Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern California.

At what concentration?

_Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in Northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.

Again, at what concentration?

_A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco‘s drinking water. The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested positive for six pharmaceuticals. Three medications, including an antibiotic, were found in drinking water supplied to Tucson, Ariz.

For crying out loud, at what concetrations?

The situation is undoubtedly worse than suggested by the positive test results in the major population centers documented by the AP.

Uh, isn’t “undoubtedly worse” pretty strong language when you don’t say why it would be worse?

The federal government doesn’t require any testing and hasn’t set safety limits for drugs in water. Of the 62 major water providers contacted, the drinking water for only 28 was tested. Among the 34 that haven’t: Houston, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City‘s Department of Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people.

The federal government doesn’t set any limits on eating sardine and peanut butter sandwiches either. Just because something sounds gross doesn’t mean it impacts human health negatively.

Some providers screen only for one or two pharmaceuticals, leaving open the possibility that others are present.

It also leave the possibility that the water is full of little purple men, after all they don’t test for them. Many things are possible, vastly less are likely. If the drugs are occurring at parts per trillion levels, it just doesn’t even matter. One part per trillion (ppt): Denotes one part per 1,000,000,000,000 parts, one part in 1012, and a value of 1 × 10–12. This is equivalent to 1 drop of water diluted into 20, two-meter-deep Olympic-size swimming pools (50,000 m³), or one second of time in approximately 31,700 years. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The AP’s investigation also indicates that watersheds, the natural sources of most of the nation’s water supply, also are contaminated. Tests were conducted in the watersheds of 35 of the 62 major providers surveyed by the AP, and pharmaceuticals were detected in 28.

You mean the places we pour our sewage contain the things that are in our sewage? Sacré bleu!

Yet officials in six of those 28 metropolitan areas said they did not go on to test their drinking water — Fairfax, Va.; Montgomery County in Maryland; Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City; Santa Clara, Calif., and New York City.

Again, if there is no demonstrative hazard, why WOULD you test it?

The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city’s water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer.

AT WHAT CONCENTRATIONS!

City water officials declined repeated requests for an interview. In a statement, they insisted that “New York City’s drinking water continues to meet all federal and state regulations regarding drinking water quality in the watershed and the distribution system” — regulations that do not address trace pharmaceuticals.

BECAUSE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT IT MATTERS!

In several cases, officials at municipal or regional water providers told the AP that pharmaceuticals had not been detected, but the AP obtained the results of tests conducted by independent researchers that showed otherwise. For example, water department officials in New Orleans said their water had not been tested for pharmaceuticals, but a Tulane University researcher and his students have published a study that found the pain reliever naproxen, the sex hormone estrone and the anti-cholesterol drug byproduct clofibric acid in treated drinking water.

Ok, lets use Naproxen as an example. Naproxen is the active chemical in Aleve, 200 mg per tablet. How much water do you need to mix one tablet of Aleve at a 1 part per billion level? Well, 200 billion mg of water. which is 200 million grams. Which is 200 thousand kilograms, which is (one liter equaling one kilogram of water) 200,000 liters. Which is 52,480 gallons. So, if you follow FDA recommended 64 oz of water a day (1/2 a gallon) it will take you 287 years to take one Aleve tablet. Hope you don’t get a headache any time over the next 3 centuries!

Of the 28 major metropolitan areas where tests were performed on drinking water supplies, only Albuquerque; Austin, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.; said tests were negative. The drinking water in Dallas has been tested, but officials are awaiting results. Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that traces of a pharmaceutical were detected in its drinking water but cited post-9/11 security concerns in refusing to identify the drug.

Ok, thats just sad.

The AP also contacted 52 small water providers — one in each state, and two each in Missouri and Texas — that serve communities with populations around 25,000. All but one said their drinking water had not been screened for pharmaceuticals; officials in Emporia, Kan., refused to answer AP’s questions, also citing post-9/11 issues.

Rural consumers who draw water from their own wells aren’t in the clear either, experts say.

The Stroud Water Research Center, in Avondale, Pa., has measured water samples from New York City‘s upstate watershed for caffeine, a common contaminant that scientists often look for as a possible signal for the presence of other pharmaceuticals. Though more caffeine was detected at suburban sites, researcher Anthony Aufdenkampe was struck by the relatively high levels even in less populated areas.

My tea is contaminated with caffeine? How odd. I thought it was an organic alkaloid found in therapeutic dosages in more than 6 major plants.

He suspects it escapes from failed septic tanks, maybe with other drugs. “Septic systems are essentially small treatment plants that are essentially unmanaged and therefore tend to fail,” Aufdenkampe said.

He suspects it, but has no evidence whatsoever. I’d really like to see some statistics on septic tank failure rates.

Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don’t necessarily avoid exposure. Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals, according to the industry’s main trade group. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems.

You mean over priced consumer goods and table top science kits can’t compete with a multi-billion dollar water treatment industry? No!

Contamination is not confined to the United States. More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world. Studies have detected pharmaceuticals in waters throughout Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe — even in Swiss lakes and the North Sea.

I like “even Swiss lakes”. Because you thought before you read this that there is no pollution in Switzerland
For example, in Canada, a study of 20 Ontario drinking water treatment plants by a national research institute found nine different drugs in water samples. Japanese health officials in December called for human health impact studies after detecting prescription drugs in drinking water at seven different sites.

*sigh* What drugs? At what concentrations?

In the United States, the problem isn’t confined to surface waters. Pharmaceuticals also permeate aquifers deep underground, source of 40 percent of the nation’s water supply. Federal scientists who drew water in 24 states from aquifers near contaminant sources such as landfills and animal feed lots found minuscule levels of hormones, antibiotics and other drugs.

Watch the 40% carefully. That’s not 40% are contamined. Thats contamination in the type that exists in 40% of the areas. So now that we know that 40% of the US gets its water from aquifers, what percentage of those aquifers are “contaminated”? They don’t say.

Perhaps it’s because Americans have been taking drugs — and flushing them unmetabolized or unused — in growing amounts. Over the past five years, the number of U.S. prescriptions rose 12 percent to a record 3.7 billion, while nonprescription drug purchases held steady around 3.3 billion, according to IMS Health and The Nielsen Co.

Perhaps, but not necessarily!

“People think that if they take a medication, their body absorbs it and it disappears, but of course that’s not the case,” said EPA scientist Christian Daughton, one of the first to draw attention to the issue of pharmaceuticals in water in the United States.

If we are just shitting all this out, maybe we shouldn’t be taking so much?

Some drugs, including widely used cholesterol fighters, tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications, resist modern drinking water and wastewater treatment processes. Plus, the EPA says there are no sewage treatment systems specifically engineered to remove pharmaceuticals.

Really? no methods to eliminate an imaginary problem with no symptoms? Shocking!

One technology, reverse osmosis, removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants but is very expensive for large-scale use and leaves several gallons of polluted water for every one that is made drinkable. Another issue: There’s evidence that adding chlorine, a common process in conventional drinking water treatment plants, makes some pharmaceuticals more toxic.

And this evidence was authored by who?

Human waste isn’t the only source of contamination. Cattle, for example, are given ear implants that provide a slow release of trenbolone, an anabolic steroid used by some bodybuilders, which causes cattle to bulk up. But not all the trenbolone circulating in a steer is metabolized. A German study showed 10 percent of the steroid passed right through the animals.

Water sampled downstream of a Nebraska feedlot had steroid levels four times as high as the water taken upstream. Male fathead minnows living in that downstream area had low testosterone levels and small heads.

Other veterinary drugs also play a role. Pets are now treated for arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, dementia, and even obesity — sometimes with the same drugs as humans. The inflation-adjusted value of veterinary drugs rose by 8 percent, to $5.2 billion, over the past five years, according to an analysis of data from the Animal Health Institute.

Ask the pharmaceutical industry whether the contamination of water supplies is a problem, and officials will tell you no. “Based on what we now know, I would say we find there’s little or no risk from pharmaceuticals in the environment to human health,” said microbiologist Thomas White, a consultant for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

But at a conference last summer, Mary Buzby — director of environmental technology for drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. — said: “There’s no doubt about it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they’re at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms.”

could/Impact

Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation.

Affected how? Define small amounts

Also, pharmaceuticals in waterways are damaging wildlife across the nation and around the globe, research shows. Notably, male fish are being feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to females. Pharmaceuticals also are affecting sentinel species at the foundation of the pyramid of life — such as earth worms in the wild and zooplankton in the laboratory, studies show.

Who authored this research?

Some scientists stress that the research is extremely limited, and there are too many unknowns. They say, though, that the documented health problems in wildlife are disconcerting.

“Some scientists” who shall remain nameless, least you check a source document.

“It brings a question to people’s minds that if the fish were affected … might there be a potential problem for humans?” EPA research biologist Vickie Wilson told the AP. “It could be that the fish are just exquisitely sensitive because of their physiology or something. We haven’t gotten far enough along.”

Hey! A named researcher. And her official statement, “We don’t know yet.”

With limited research funds, said Shane Snyder, research and development project manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, a greater emphasis should be put on studying the effects of drugs in water.

AHHHHHH! The request for a handout.

“I think it’s a shame that so much money is going into monitoring to figure out if these things are out there, and so little is being spent on human health,” said Snyder. “They need to just accept that these things are everywhere — every chemical and pharmaceutical could be there. It’s time for the EPA to step up to the plate and make a statement about the need to study effects, both human and environmental.”

Ah, yes, if we just give more money to the federal agencies who protect us we will be juuuuuust fine.

To the degree that the EPA is focused on the issue, it appears to be looking at detection. Grumbles acknowledged that just late last year the agency developed three new methods to “detect and quantify pharmaceuticals” in wastewater. “We realize that we have a limited amount of data on the concentrations,” he said. “We’re going to be able to learn a lot more.”

Suddenly growing levels of chemicals and SURPRISE! Newer more sensitive test methods are being used. It almost as if these chemicals had been there for years and we just didn’t have the technology to test for them at the “minuscule” amounts they exist in.

While Grumbles said the EPA had analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible inclusion on a draft list of candidates for regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said only one, nitroglycerin, was on the list. Nitroglycerin can be used as a drug for heart problems, but the key reason it’s being considered is its widespread use in making explosives.

So much is unknown. Many independent scientists are skeptical that trace concentrations will ultimately prove to be harmful to humans. Confidence about human safety is based largely on studies that poison lab animals with much higher amounts.

Your dang right much is unknown.

There’s growing concern in the scientific community, meanwhile, that certain drugs — or combinations of drugs — may harm humans over decades because water, unlike most specific foods, is consumed in sizable amounts every day.

You know if Aleve was in the water at parts per million instead of parts per million, you will still have to drink 1/2 a gallon a day for 3 months to get a single tablet.

Our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose, yet suffer from a smaller amount delivered continuously over a half century, perhaps subtly stirring allergies or nerve damage. Pregnant women, the elderly and the very ill might be more sensitive.

They might! Monkeys might write Shakespeare too. Might is a mighty big word.

Many concerns about chronic low-level exposure focus on certain drug classes: chemotherapy that can act as a powerful poison; hormones that can hamper reproduction or development; medicines for depression and epilepsy that can damage the brain or change behavior; antibiotics that can allow human germs to mutate into more dangerous forms; pain relievers and blood-pressure diuretics. For several decades, federal environmental officials and nonprofit watchdog environmental groups have focused on regulated contaminants — pesticides, lead, PCBs — which are present in higher concentrations and clearly pose a health risk.

But lets distact ourselves from that with sensational nonsense!

However, some experts say medications may pose a unique danger because, unlike most pollutants, they were crafted to act on the human body. “These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That’s what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have effects,” says zoologist John Sumpter at Brunel University in London, who has studied trace hormones, heart medicine and other drugs.

Define ” low concentrations”

And while drugs are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Pharmaceuticals also can produce side effects and interact with other drugs at normal medical doses. That’s why — aside from therapeutic doses of fluoride injected into potable water supplies — pharmaceuticals are prescribed to people who need them, not delivered to everyone in their drinking water.

Its over months at BILLIONS of times the dosages they are talking about.

“We know we are being exposed to other people’s drugs through our drinking water, and that can’t be good,” says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany.

Join me tommorow when the AP reveals Batboy’s secret tryst with Senator Clinton.

March 10, 2008 Posted by | Government, Pharmacology, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A land of looters

I don’t want to be full of hate. I don’t want to let how much I hate what other people value to be my definition, I want to be defined instead by what I love. It’s just so hard sometimes. People are so foolish. I try not to even look at what other people are doing, not to find people worthy of contempt but simply not to find them at all. It is my life’s creed to see things as they are and not as I wish them to be. Reality is real. Our feelings about reality are not unreal, or even unimportant, but simply are not nearly as important as reality itself.

This is the reality that I see around me: People afraid. Everyone is afraid, of each other, of the government, ultimately of themselves. Do you know why we have road rage? Because people aren’t hurrying to get to somewhere, they are hurrying to get away. They run in fear of everything. In the car they drive with radio on, least, in the drone of the tires on the road they communicate with their own self. They get to work and immediately begin tasks they dislike for too little money. Then they rush home to drown their identity in TV. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Just accept. They project their fear of themselves upon everyone they meet. They are afraid to be alone because they are afraid to be alone with the person they fear most.

But why are they afraid of their own souls? What crime have we, as a people committed, that we cannot stand any act of mirroring? They drive with the music on not to hear their own thoughts. They call those who will share meaningless pleasantries with them friend, and those who will call them out their inconsistencies…well, they don’t call them anything. They lack even the honesty with themselves to call their enemies by that title. They don’t refer to people they don’t like by any title at all, they just talk endlessly about what they don’t like about them. They avoid any mirror that reflects back to them the condition of their own spirit. For what crime? For what guilt?

When they discuss ideas they don’t discuss whether the idea is right or wrong. They argue where it might go in the wrong hands. They argue who might think what. It is perception of morality that matters to them not morality. They will never discuss right and wrong in the open because to do so would require that they know their own heart, but they don’t dare see what is inside. Why are they so afraid of in their own spirit? For what crime? For what guilt?

We speak often our culture being sex obsessed, but only if sex is meaningless physical exchange. In general, people avoid meaningful sex like the plague. I hear my neighbor having sex through the wall.”Oh fuck… Fuck yeah….oh, fuck me.” she says. She doesn’t scream it. She says it with the casual meaningless of a pick up line. Their sex hast no purpose, no union of souls, just the flopping of two desperate people. They have sex not to celebrate their love, but to forget their emptiness. Why? What secret inner accusation are they trying to hide from? For what crime? For what guilt?

I think we have purveyed a great lie: that the reality of how we feel is more important than reality itself. As a culture we have bought into magic thinking, thinking that we will change reality merely because we desire too. But even though everyone believes this, deep down inside we know its a lie.

We want to have money, so the government gives us an “economic incentives”. This is madness. We all know the government can only get money from one source: taxes. Which we pay. The money the government gives today will come out of our taxes tomorrow. But it feels so good to have money today.

We want the inner city schools to be better, so we give them more money. The problem of course is not that the inner city schools don’t have enough money (thought they certainly do not). Research has shown that the reason affluent suburban schools do well is not because of the money. Parents who are involved are more likely to be rich, but it is the parental involvement that makes for a good school. The problem with inner city schools is that, by and large, inner city parents don’t give a damn. But giving those, poor, poor, children computers in every classroom makes us feel so much better.

We don’t want a war in Iraq. It doesn’t feel good. But it hurts so much more to pay $4.00 a gallon for gas than to not fight a war. So we fight a war for oil, that any child could see is a war for oil and say it is a war for freedom. It makes us feel so much better that way.

We begin by lying to ourselves. We then become a nation of cheats and looters. We don’t want socialized medicine because we give a shit about children. Deep down inside we want socialized medicine because we want something for nothing. We don’t want more federal funding to go to schools because we really care about our neighbors obnoxious kids graduating, we want more federal funding to go to schools because deep down inside we think the more money our school gets the better our kids will be, and why should we have to pay for our own kids way when we can bleed the rich people for it? We don’t want the Feds to bug our phone (Patriot Act), but deep down inside we would rather have the Feds listening to all our conversations than ever have to defend ourselves. Its so much easier to trust someone else to protect us than be responsible for it ourselves. We don’t support Social Security because we want to protect the investment of our senior citizens. Deep down we want social security because as much as it hurts to pay in, we know that others out there pay more than we do and we look forward to living off of their hard work.

This is the sickness the pervades our society. We lie to ourselves, but deep down we know whats right and wrong, and we know that what we are doing is wrong. We know we have no right to the hand outs we are taking, but we take them anyway. We make sure the people we vote for keep them coming. We say its moral to steal from the rich and give to the poor, but not respecting the poor’s dignity to insist that they work for their bread. We reversed our moral code. We steal from the able to give to the incompetent. We will all spend the “economic incentive” if we get it. We will be happy for the cash, but inside, deep inside, we will be sick. Disgusted that we are taking that which we didn’t work for from men and women who did.

March 8, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment