Drug Crisis

Asprin from the bark of a tree has been an effective pain killer long before you could buy pills. Chances are, asprin wasn’t sold commercially until it could be synthesized – and thus patented.

There is and has been a cure for cholesterol and plaque related heart disease. Injections of pure HDL have a roto-rooter effect on arteries. This has been known for years and years, but a drug was never made. This is because HDL-cholesterol which everybody has, cannot be patented. It is natural. It was not until a mutated HDL was discovered in a town in Italy that drug companies even took interest – you can patent a mutation.

There are no aphrodesiacs as far as “modern” medicine is concerned. Well, not true unfortunately. A sweet-potato-like tubor called Maca has been clinically proven to increase sperm count (only in men), sex drive and stamina. PROVEN! It works on animals and humans. They don’t know what chemical specifically does it, and it cannot be synthesized or patented. So drug companies deny it is possible. Maca sits in online advertisements with penis enlargement pills and other farce treatments – while it is legitimate.

Sickle Cell Anemia is a terrible disorder that plagues peoples of African decent almost exclusively. Why is it that the Africans didn’t have trouble with it before? Yams. African yams contain something that prevents sickle-cell attacks. The theory is that “Thiocynate” is responsible for this protection. And yet, people who go to a traditional doctor have to take dehabilitating drugs and be extremely careful – living a limited, painful life. Read “The Color Purple” for crying out loud! Yams protected the old African, and the anemia didn’t show up until the Europeans destroyed yams in favor of corn.

Until recently, the only treatment for arthritis was pain killers, steroids and joint replacement. Then glucosamine and chondroitin were discovered. Enough evidence has demonstrated that these chemicals are an effective treatment of Arthritis, that this dietary supplement was endorsed by some arthritis foundation.

What other treatments exist? At present, a drug that a doctor will prescribe must pass FDA approval. This is very expensive, and the burden of proof lies on the drug manufacturer. They must perform short and long term studies; double blind tests using placebos. The only way a profit oriented company will spend the millions and billions of dollars required to test and approve a drug is if they can patent it. And you cannot patent anything natural.
Anything that does not get FDA approval must be categorized as a Dietary Supplement. The only rule about these supplements is that they cannot claim to be a drug, they must not be toxic, and they must state that any claims are not FDA approved.

The result is that there are thousands and thousands of dietary supplements, most of which are Snak Oil. There is no real way to sort amongst the garbage, because there have been very few scientific studies performed. The placebo effect can be astounding – it only figures since the brains is ever more astounding. No one person’s results made a treatment legit. That is why double blind placebo-controlled tests are necessary.

All this talk, what is the solution? Government funded drug research. With a reasonable budget. The removal of competition from drug companies. The removal of unchecked profit.

Movies That Suck

Here are some movies that suck.
And yes, I am spoiling.

Unbreakable – A very pompous movie. Bruce Willis is an amazing actor, and he was wasted on this waste of a movie. IF – and there will not be, but IF there was going to be a trilogy, this movie would have been good. There is not going to be a trilogy – watch the special features. The director decided to show the parts where a superhero discovers that he is a hero. The entire movie was spent brilliantly building suspense, and expectation. Our expectations were fulfilled by text. That is, rather than end the movie, a summary of what will happen ends the movie. Stupid, cop out ending. I don’t care how original and groundbreaking the movie was. It had a really bad ending.

Insomnia – This movie could have been good. The premise is interesting. The omniscient bad guy is very cool. However, the ending sucked. They kill each other. I can’t even remember what Williams’ character wanted from Pacino’s. I didn’t care. There was no closure. The characters I spent an entire movie getting connected to, empathizing with, worrying about were carelessly killed by a foolish director who wanted to impress the audience and be different. I say what a jerk.

One Hour Photo – Well crap, I can’t remember why this movie sucks. But it did, and the ending did it. I think it was that the main character – played by Robin Williams – was a disturbed but good guy who may have saved a marriage through his actions, but he is still probably going to jail. But they don’t tell us. We are left wondering what happens, with no way of knowing. It sucks.

Mystic River – It is obvious that Shamalan is a better director than Eastwood. However this movie still had the potential to be good. But then one friend kills another over a misunderstanding; later discovers that he was wrong, but goes on like nothing happened. Normally, in some movies, the plot is driven by the mistakes and misunderstandings of the characters. I dislike these movies – misunderstanding is too easy a way to create tension. A cop-out, if you will. But add to this a movie where the character you connect with and worry about the most is mistreated throughout the movie, culminating in his unfair murder, and the guy who did it gets away with it. It makes me so mad!! At the end there is this parade where all the main characters are watching, looking at each other. The killer looks at the third friend – who is a cop – and kind of shrugs. NOOO! You don’t torture the audience like that and then shrug it off. That is downright mean. You give retribution.

You see, the purpose of movies is entertainment. We go to them, or watch them to escape the normalcy, simplicity, boredom, etc of our normal lives. Only people with problems consider this entertaining: “A man is sexually abused and has his whole life messed up. There is a misunderstanding and he is accused of killing someone he did not kill. One of his friends decides to take matters into his own hands, tells him that if he confesses he won’t kill him. The poor man confesses to avoid death, and is shot anyway. Then even though they find proof that he didn’t kill the girl, there is no evidence and the darn traitor friend gets away with it. The end” What a horribly sadistic story. Might as well make a movie about killing puppies where the people who kill them become millionaires who abuse their wives and rape their own children. So entertaining. Geez.

A good place to eat

I was naughty and stopped at White Castle before work today. I had enough cash to get 3 cheese burgers, so I ordered them. The woman who took my order requested 6 cheeseburgers from the cook. I assumed 3 were for somebody else. I paid for 3 of them, and she gave me 6. Amazing. The world really is a wonderful place sometimes. I wish I could go on back there and give that lady a hug.

A bloody rant

I apologise in advance for this. I just feel like ranting. I always feel better after I rant.

America is on the path to destruction. Not because of Iraq, not because of terrorism, but because of something much worse: global business.

Very few major companies perform the majority of their labor within the United States. Instead, they outsource labor to other countries – China for example. In the US, there is a federal minimum wage. There is some semblance of competitive wages. Businesses have to provide benefits – like health insurance – to their full-time workers. They have to maintain a safe, clean and comfortable work environment. All these things cost quite a bit of money.

Or, they can send the work to China. They only need to pay $3/day instead of $6/hour, there are no benefits, there are no days off, the workers are productive and the business doesn’t ask questions.

Businesses don’t even try to rationalize this. It’s simply “good” business – reducing costs to increase profits. The benefit to the American public is lower prices. but what is the real cost?

American jobs. These companies are leeching money from the American people without adding money back into the economy. That is no good way to do business. Every early western country used to realize this. In order for a country to prosper, it must have resourses that it can sell to the world, while minimizing imported resources. That is, Maximize exports, minimize imports. The US has immense resources. The huge population of people in poverty make up a giant work-force. Many of these people would work if they qualified – but the restrictions and shortness of US jobs makes it hard to get a job when you don’t already have one.

The US government used to try to keep goods within the US by imposing tariffs and import taxes. These taxes were meant to encourage self-sufficiency – they were a penalty of sorts. Now organizations like the World Trade Organization are making tariffs difficult. A country that tries to limit trade is shunned and excluded by other countries, effectively bullied into compliance with a destructive policy. The WTO doesn’t support human rights. They don’t care. China is in good standing, despite the deplorable conditions and massive violations of human decency. Simply put, abuse is good for business. The US is afraid to be cut off from world trade. The US is desperate to keep businesses in America, even if 98% of all business operations are performed in 3rd world countries. The government will do anything to keep businesses’ PO-boxes in the United States. They offer massive tax breaks. They loosely enforce environmental protection laws. They give corporations more rights than individuals. And any small change for the good of mankind evokes complaints of lost profits – the majority of which end up the the pockets of worthless executives.

The world needs to change. It won’t, but it needs to. Unless the US governments gets some balls, people will continue to be enslaved by corporations who pay them just enough for it not to be official.

To do it, the government needs to:
1. Significantly increase import penalties. So much so, that it is not nearly so profitable to import goods.
2a. Outlaw, or severely limit the export of labor. A US-based company’s products should be produced (almost) entirely within the US. Exporting labor that could just as easily be done within the US should be illegal.


2b. Require that outsourced labor receive the same protections as those working within the US. Chinese employees of an American company must get paid the US minimum wage, must get overtime pay, must have safe working conditions. If a company is not directly employing the laborers, the rules must still apply.

This way, relocating the company overseas is not profitable – keeping the business here, and outsourcing is not profitable – keeping the jobs here.

Cordless Power Tools

Cordless power tools have the ability to be incredibly useful. Having a drill and a saw with no cord that you can take were you please and use as you please… especially in our house of few electrical outlets, these tools are amazing.

I was hasitant to invest in battery operated tools at first, however, for experience had shown me that the batteries liked to fail. My father’s cordless tools didn’t last more than a year or two before the batteries were shot. And those batteries often cost upwards of $60 to replace. It’s just obscene! They seem to be built to fail, then cost far more than the sum of their obsolete, NiCad parts. What’s the deal?

First things first, most people have a little better luck than my father. Often the batteries can last for about 2 years of occasional use before they stop holding a charge. Interestingly enough, most people don’t leave the batteries in the charger 24×7. Therein lies my father’s mistake.

For some odd reason, these cordless power tools usually come with the simplest charger possible: A wall transformer that connects directly to the battery terminals, constantly charging while the battery is connected. Sometimes there is a little indicator light to let you know it is charging.

Let it be known that these chargers will destroy batteries.

The true killer of these batteries is overcharging. To understand this, lets take a look inside the battery.
While a battery discharges, a chemical reaction occurs involving metals, oxides and ions. The reaction is always happening slowly within the cell, but it goes much faster when current is allowed to flow across the cell. Once the metals are depleted (or are getting close to being depleted), the battey stops working and the reaction is reversed. By applying a voltage to the cell, the metals begin returning to their original status. This can only continue so long as there are chemicals in their discharged state. Once the cell is fully charged, if the electricity continues to be applied, something bad starts happening. The metals are in water containing electrolyte. If you have ever seen what happens when you run electricity through water, you know where this is headed. Electrolysis begins happening to the water – breaking it down into Hydrogen and oxygen and creating large amounts of heat. Now the battery has gas bubbles – steam, hydrogen and oxygen. All modern batteries are designed to deal with this and have gas vents; however this process is what destroys the battery. A battery that is never charged to the point of elecrolysis will last a much longer time.

Since we have no way of knowing the state of the battery’s charge, we cannot know precicely when to get that battery off the charger when using the supplied charger. So what is a reasonable person to do? Some high-end manufacturers (bosch, delta) sell quick chargers that ensure battery safety. But if you’re like me, you have a craftsman, or coleman, or Black & Decker tool and there is no intelligent charger. And for that matter, the quick chargers run near $100.

There is hope. for less than $20, you can purchase the components necessary to turn your current charger into an intelligent charger that charges fast, stops when the battery is fully charged, then “trickle” charges the battery to safely maintain a full charge. (Trickle charging essentially applies current to the battery at the same rate it loses power when sitting. Thus there is no electrolysis, no overcharging.)

Would you like to know how? Stay tuned.

Danger of blogs

Blogs make it easy for any person to say whatever they want on the internet. However, they are also a cornucopia of misinformation. People rarely research their ideas before posting them to their little blog. In fact, a person will often tout coincidence as causal fact. For example, some person may be writing an entry about computers. They may suggest that leaving a computer on all the time is better, because “thermal cycling” is more damaging than constant operation. They may even go further to explain thermal cycling – that the connections within a computer expanding and contracting cause more damage etc…

Other people will read this entry and take it as the truth. They will convince all their friends that they should leave their computers on all the time. “I read it on the internet”… If the friend questions their sources, the person will fabricate the source “a technical website.” This tidbit of misinformation spreads. Like calling the box the monitor plugs into a CPU, or saying that asparatame (nutrisweet) is dangerous, these things are believed by the less informed.

The truth:
Thermal cycling hasn’t been an issue since the 90s. These days, dust is more dangerous than any temperature changes. Leaving a computer on all the time causes the fans to wear out quicker and the box to accumulate more dust. This doesn’t mean much though. It is a matter of preference, and you will notice little changes either way. So long as you clean it out, you’ll be fine.

Asparatame is made from two amino acids bound together. It is broken down into methyl alcohol, then formaldehyde. However, so is fruit. You will get more formaldehyde from drinking a glass of orange juice than from drinking a can of diet pop. Interesting what happens when thing are put into perspective.

Consider most people. Most people struggle to get Bs and Cs in school. Most people do not take care to support their statements. Most people let emotions create arguments (rather than empower them). Most people are just plain stupid. This means that the average blog writer is probably stupid, and that the average blog reader is stupid.

And for that matter, anybody that calls their online journal a “blog” is stupid by default. “I’m gonna go boot up my comp so I can log-in to my blog and post to the net.”

Stay away from blogs. They clutter the internet with worthless junk.