Friday, November 21, 2008

U.S. government has a medical patent on chemicals that the DEA says have no medical use--Huh?

For those of you into irony, here's a funny one.

For years, the U.S. government has followed a "zero tolerance" policy toward marijuana.

Despite all credible evidence about the low risk marijuana poses, the DEA classifies pot as a Schedule 1 Drug. To meet this qualification a drug must have "no accepted medical value and pose a high risk for abuse."

Here's the irony part. The U.S. government sought and obtained a patent on some of the chemical constituents found in marijuana!!

Here's a link to the complete patent.

Here's my question: How can the government claim a drug has no acceptable value and throw people into jail for its use on one hand, while obtaining a patent on the chemicals in this plant for the treatment of medical issues on the other?

Regardless of your position on drugs, you must admit that this really takes the cake of government hypocrisy.

The ugly spectre of DEFLATION!

For those of you enjoying the drop in prices all over the place, especially right before Christmas, I should caution you about a tricky little thing called: Deflation.

Here's a good article explaining deflation and why we should all be concerned by it.

What is it exactly?

Well, it's where prices fall. Normally, we like falling prices, but not when it's caused by large scale deflationary forces like we're seeing now.

Prices are falling because demand has fallen. Lower demand equals lower prices; it's classical economics.

Deflation is good at the beginning, so if you got the cash, spend it now on those good deals.

As deflation drags on, you see downward pressure on wages. This hurts.

Be prepared for lower wages and more unemployment if we can't shore up the economy soon. It's a nasty cycle that we can ill-afford to get into.

Virtual economies serve as a lab for real world economies

This story is rather cool. At least the geek in me thinks it is.

Virtual economies are providing some insight into how real world economies work.

It seems that the libertarian utopia of zero regulation in Second Life has led to downright fraud and economic ruin for virtual banks.

That's the trouble with self-regulation. It's another word for libertarian economic policies.

We're seeing the results of such extreme de-regulation in our own economy.

Virtual worlds provide insight into the real world, but without the costs to real people.

Cool stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Country music is a little slow on the uptake in the political game

Finally someone other than me has spoken the truth about Country Music.

Ironically, it is the New Republic that carried the story.

I've bemoaned the state of country music for years. It ceased being country and morphed into country-flavored pop music.

This occurred when the Nashville music scene was invaded by New York and L.A. music business transplants. They couldn't make it in pop, so they moved to Nashville, changed country music to fit their tastes, and show us bumpkins how it was really done.

What are we left with? Crap.

Country music made the mistake of cozying up with the Right. That was a big mistake, but typical of Nashville. Nashville doesn't have the balls to strike out on its own, so it waits to see how the wind blows, then jumps on the bandwagon.

Unfortunately, the bandwagon shifted and is going the other direction.

Natalie Maines is having the last laugh on Toby Keith.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Former middle class could spell trouble for stability

I normally find Brooks a bit of an intellectual simpleton. Like many of his brethren in the openly-conservative camp, he's fond of simplistic characterizations that really don't hold up under scrutiny.

For example: In the present article he equates collective action with a loss of individual rights.

This isn't alway the case. Sometimes, group action is necessary to expand individual rights. Kind of a no man's an island view of things.

Simple solutions and simple social constructs appeal to a specific audience: Simple people.

Brooks is an affable sort, so I avoid being too hard on him. Sometimes he does make a valid point.

His take on the financial turmoil results in a conclusion that I agree with (thus, I don't think he's too bad...).

I've said for a time now that financial trouble is dangerous when those most affected by it are educated, ambitious, and carry a certain degree of expectation from their society. They'll be the sort to create trouble and can carry it out because of their education, experience, and degree of motivation.

Brooks agrees, in a round about way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Anxiety disorders more prevalent than we realize

About one fifth of all patients visiting a doctor suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders go untreated so often that we scarcely realize the trouble they cause.

Medically, they account for a significant portion of patients presenting with pain or other symptom.

My suspicion is that humans carry a predisposition to certain anxiety disorders from our evolutionary past. Those without the hyper-vigilance caused by anxiety were often the first ones eaten by a predator. Hyper-vigilance causes one to be more cautious too, so it can have a positive effect in small doses.

The downside: Hyper-vigilance associated with anxiety causes sufferers to sense greater physiological issues leading to more self-diagnosis of health problems. Ultimately, anxiety results in more doctor visits.