May 30, 2013

Before Their Diaspora

A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948, by Walid Khalidi.

May 26, 2013

L’Étrange Voyage de Henri de Curci

Alzheimer disease — a neurospirochetosis

Analysis of the evidence following Koch's and Hill's criteria, by Judith Miklossy

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2011, 8:90. doi:10.1186/1742-2094-8-90

Abstract. It is established that chronic spirochetal infection can cause slowly progressive dementia, brain atrophy and amyloid deposition in late neurosyphilis. Recently it has been suggested that various types of spirochetes, in an analogous way to Treponema pallidum, could cause dementia and may be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we review all data available in the literature on the detection of spirochetes in AD and critically analyze the association and causal relationship between spirochetes and AD following established criteria of Koch and Hill. The results show a statistically significant association between spirochetes and AD (P = 1.5 × 10−17; odds ratio = 20; 95% confidence interval = 8–60; N = 247). When neutral techniques recognizing all types of spirochetes were used, or the highly prevalent periodontal pathogen Treponemas were analyzed, spirochetes were observed in the brain in more than 90% of AD cases. Borrelia burgdorferi was detected in the brain in 25.3% of AD cases analyzed and was 13 times more frequent in AD compared to controls. Periodontal pathogen Treponemas (T. pectinovorum, T. amylovorum, T. lecithinolyticum, T. maltophilum, T. medium, T. socranskii) and Borrelia burgdorferi were detected using species specific polymerase chain reaction and antibodies. Importantly, co-infection with several spirochetes occurs in AD. The pathological and biological hallmarks of AD were reproduced in vitro by exposure of mammalian cells to spirochetes. The analysis of reviewed data following Koch's and Hill's postulates shows a probable causal relationship between neurospirochetosis and AD. Persisting inflammation and amyloid deposition initiated and sustained by chronic spirochetal infection form together with the various hypotheses suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of AD a comprehensive entity. As suggested by Hill, once the probability of a causal relationship is established prompt action is needed. Support and attention should be given to this field of AD research. Spirochetal infection occurs years or decades before the manifestation of dementia. As adequate antibiotic and anti-inflammatory therapies are available, as in syphilis, one might prevent and eradicate dementia.

Click here for full text.

[Spirochetes are a kind of bacteria. Treponema pallidum causes syphilis. Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease. Late-stage syphilis involves dementia, brain atrophy, and amyloid deposition similar to what is seen in Alzheimer disease (AD). Therefore, it has been hypothesized that other spirochetes could cause AD. This review of published data found a strong association between the presence of spirochetes in the blood and AD: AD patients were 20 times more likely to have spirochete infection than non-AD patients. Spirochetes were found in the brains of >90% of AD patients. Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) in particular was found in the brains of 25% of AD patients and was 13 times more likely to be found in AD brains than in non-AD brains.]

May 17, 2013

Wind Turbines: Health Risk or Annoyance?

The May issue of Canadian Family Physician includes a (peer-reviewed) commentary, "Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines", by Roy Jeffery, Carmen Krogh, and Brett Horner of the Society for Wind Vigilance, "an international federation of physicians, acousticians, engineers, and other professionals who share scientific research on the topic of health and wind turbines". On line, there are two replies, each of which illustrates a typical response in the effort to diminish the health problems caused by industrial-scale wind energy: changing the subject; and straw man or paper tiger argument.

First is from Gideon Forman, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment:
Virtually absent from this article is any discussion of the hazards posed by other forms of energy generation. ... No one argues wind mills are perfect but they stack up rather well when compared with other sources of electricity. Wind mills do not cause cancer; do not release toxic waste; do not produce smog; do not produce elements of acid rain; and do not contribute to climate change. Indeed, they help us to phase-out energy sources which do cause these adverse effects.
Second is from Roger Suss, physician, University of Manitoba:
Dr. Jeffrey and his colleagues conclude in their article that "industrial wind turbines can harm human health". Unfortunately the remainder of their commentary provides no evidence that this is so. Their argument can be summed up as follows: 1) The sound of wind turbines annoys some people. 2) Annoyance diminishes quality of life. 3) Diminished quality of life is a health issue. This argument is bulletproof. The trouble is that it is also banal. There is no question that sounds can be annoying. There's also no question that annoyance can contribute to anxiety, depression, poor concentration, dizziness, nausea, and sleep disturbance. I see patients daily who are feeling ill because of a variety of things that annoy them. Their relatives, neighbors, telemarketers, Microsoft, crows, and bad weather could all be considered harmful to their health. If we define health broadly enough, then its meaning disappears entirely and all human experience is "health". ... Noise pollution could indeed be considered a public health problem, but the evidence would depend on how many people were affected, and how much they were affected. It would require some attempt to look for a control or reference population. Dr Jeffery and colleagues make no attempt to provide us with any of that information. ...
Forman evidently thinks that pointing to a greater harm absolves a lesser harm, and that paying attention to the lesser harm somehow implies a denial of the greater harm. Back on the subject, he also claims that the lesser harm helps to eliminate the greater harm, despite no evidence whatsoever of wind energy even significantly reducing, let alone helping to eliminate, fossil and nuclear fuel use.

Suss latches on to the word "annoyance" and can't let go. The original article, however, lists annoyance as only one of the complaints about nearby wind turbines. Suss thus creates a paper tiger which he then mocks at length. Though Suss claims otherwise, the article reports that many people have measurable physical symptoms. Suss also completely ignores the seriousness of chronic sleep deprivation, the most reported effect of nearby wind turbines, which unlike the other "annoyances" he lists, never take a rest. In many places, turbines have to be shut down at night because they violate even modest noise regulations. And then he, too, changes the subject, demanding controlled studies and using their absence in these early days of study to excuse dismissing any evidence of harm.

It is disturbing that these two physicians lash out so irrationally to the simple information that as more wind turbines go up, doctors need to be aware of the well documented set of symptoms that many people experience when living near them. Telling their patients to accept their suffering, which is essentially what Forman and Suss are proposing here, is certainly not what most people would consider to be a desirable model of care.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, human rights

May 12, 2013

The Drapier’s Fourth Letter

From The Drapier’s Fourth Letter: To the Whole People of Ireland (Jonathan Swift, Oct. 13, 1724):

But I find, that Cordials must be frequently applied to weak Constitutions, Political as well as Natural. A People long used to Hardships, lose by Degrees the very Notions of Liberty, they look upon themselves as Creatures at Mercy, and that all Impositions laid on them by a stronger Hand, are, in the Phrase of the Report, Legal and Obligatory. Hence proceeds that Poverty and Lowness of Spirit, to which a Kingdom may be subject as well as a Particular Person. And when Esau came fainting from the Field at the Point to Die, it is no wonder that he Sold his Birth-Right for a Mess of Pottage.


I entreat you, my dear Countrymen, not to be under the least Concern upon these and the like Rumours, which are no more than the last Howls of a Dog dissected alive, as I hope he hath sufficiently been. These Calumnies are the only Reserve that is left him.


’Tis true indeed, that within the Memory of Man, the Parliaments of England have Sometimes assumed the Power of binding this Kingdom by Laws enacted there, wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as Truth, Reason and Justice are capable of Opposing) by the Famous Mr. Molineux, an English Gentleman born here, as well as by several of the greatest Patriots, and best Whigs in England; but the Love and Torrent of Power prevailed. Indeed the Arguments on both sides were invincible; For in Reason, all Government without the Consent of the Governed is the very Definition of Slavery: But in Fact, Eleven Men well Armed will certainly subdue one Single Man in his Shirt. But I have done. For those who have used Power to cramp Liberty have gone so far as to Resent even the Liberty of Complaining, altho’ a Man upon the Rack was never known to be refused the Liberty of Roaring as loud as he thought fit.

And as we are apt to sink too much under unreasonable Fears, so we are too soon inclined to be Raised by groundless Hopes (according to the Nature of all Consumptive Bodies like ours). Thus, it hath been given about for several Days past, that Somebody in England empowered a Second Somebody to write to a third Somebody here to assure us, that we should no more be troubled with those Half-pence. And this is Reported to have been done by the Same Person, who was said to have Sworn some Months ago, that he would Ram them down our Throats (though I doubt they would stick in our Stomachs) but whichever of these Reports is True or False, it is no Concern of ours. For in this Point we have nothing to do with English Ministers, and I should be sorry it lay in their Power to Redress this Grievance or to Enforce it: For the Report of the Committee hath given me a Surfeit. The Remedy is wholly in your own Hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and continue that Spirit so seasonably raised amongst you, and to let you see that by the Laws of GOD, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and of your own Country, you ARE and OUGHT to be as FREE a People as your Brethren in England.

If the Pamphlets published at London by Wood and his Journey-men in Defence of his Cause, were Reprinted here, and that our Country-men could be persuaded to Read them, they would convince you of his wicked Design more than all I shall ever be able to say. ...

There was a few Days ago a Pamphlet sent me of near 50 Pages Written in Favour of Mr. Wood and his Coynage, Printed in London; it is not worth answering, because probably it will never be published here: But it gave me an Occasion to reflect upon an Unhappiness we lye under, that the People of England are utterly Ignorant of our Case, which however is no wonder, since it is a Point they do not in the least concern themselves about, farther than perhaps as a Subject of Discourse in a Coffee-House when they have nothing else to talk of. For I have Reason to believe that no Minister ever gave himself the Trouble of Reading any Papers Written in our Defence, because I suppose their Opinions are already determined, and are formed wholly upon the Reports of Wood and his Accomplices; else it would be impossible that any Man could have the Impudence to write such a Pamphlet as I have mentioned. ...

However they are so far to be excused in Relation to the present Subject, that, hearing only one Side of the Cause, and having neither Opportunity nor Curiosity to examine the Other, they believe a Lye merely for their Ease, and conclude, because Mr. Wood pretends to have Power, he hath also Reason on his side.

Therefore to let you see how this Case is represented in England by Wood and his Adherents, I have thought it proper to extract out of that Pamphlet a few of those Notorious Falshoods in Point of Fact and Reasoning contained therein; the Knowledge whereof will confirm my Country-men in their Own Right Sentiments, when they will see by comparing both, how much their Enemies are in the Wrong.

First, The Writer, positively asserts, That Wood’s Half-pence were Current among us for several Months with the universal Approbation of all People, without one single Gain-sayer, and we all to a Man thought ourselves Happy in having them.

Secondly, He affirms, That we were drawn into a Dislike of them only by some Cunning Evil designing Men among us, who opposed this Patent of Wood to get another for themselves.

Thirdly, That those who most declared at first against Wood’s Patent were the very Men who intended to get another for their own Advantage.

Fourthly, That our Parliament and Privy Council, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of Dublin, the Grand-Juries and Merchants, and in short the whole Kingdom, nay the very Dogs (as he expresseth it) were fond of those Half-pence, till they were inflamed by those few designing Persons aforesaid.

Fifthly, He says directly, That all those who opposed the Half-pence were Papists and Enemies to King George.

Thus far I am confident the most Ignorant among you can safely swear from your own Knowledge that the Author is a most notorious Lyar in every Article, the direct contrary being so manifest to the whole Kingdom ....

May 10, 2013

The Politics of the Pasture

James McWilliams writes:

Green Mountain College, from the founding of Cerridwen Farm in 1997 to its decision to kill Bill and Lou in 2012, was seeking to do what it genuinely thought best to do: farm in a way that modeled an environmentally sound alternative to industrial agriculture. The school loved the idea. The students loved the idea. The media loved the idea. It was extremely popular in every progressive corner. Replacing industrial agriculture with sustainable agriculture has become one of the most inspiring goals of the twenty-first century. GMC, through 22 acres known as Cerridwen Farm, aimed to play a direct role in this emerging revolution. ...

When animal advocates seized upon a controversy — the decision to kill and eat Bill and Lou — to argue that GMC’s pursuit of “sustainable agriculture” obscured basic moral consideration for animals, an unusually high-profile debate unfolded. That debate explored something that has, for the most part, enjoyed a free pass through an otherwise bramble-ridden landscape of agrarian discourse: the intensifying role of animal exploitation in “sustainable agriculture.” This book has tried to sketch out and analyze the depth and breath of that debate. As I hope has been made clear, animal advocates have made a strong case for not raising animals to slaughter and eat. They have effectively highlighted the ethical problem of killing sentient beings for unnecessary purposes. Repeatedly, and with varying levels of respect, they have demanded, sometimes forthrightly, that this quandary be acknowledged and explained by the advocates of small-scale animal agriculture at GMC.

In response, GMC never provided a serious answer. Ever. They provided excuses, but never did they make a sufficient ethical case in favor of killing the animals they supposedly loved for food they merely wanted rather than needed. More often than not, their primary battle tactic was to hyperbolize a few incendiary comments made by a few hotheads in the animal rights movement and deem themselves the innocent and helpless victim of vicious intimidation. I don’t buy for a moment that anyone at GMC ever felt truly in danger, but, as we’ll see, they put on an Oscar-worthy performance promoting their own victimhood.

As an advocate for animal rights and social justice, I’ve come to believe something very strongly: when a group seeking to reform an oppressive institution (in this case industrial agriculture) does so by relying on the exploitation of other sentient beings (in this case, two oxen), that group will eventually assume the tactics of the oppressors. They will, in other words, take the low road to perdition despite their articulated intentions to elevate themselves in the name of a nobler mission. To put a finer point on it, when a group of agricultural reformers seeks to dismantle industrial agriculture and its state sponsorship while simultaneously encouraging the single most important habit required to sustain industrial agriculture — eating animals — that group will find itself aligned, in the end, with the oppression of industrial agriculture.

Well, we’re at the end. And, in ways that could not be more affirmative of my thesis had I scripted them, GMC, in the wake of Lou’s death and the resulting vituperation that followed, has explicitly and implicitly aligned itself with American agribusiness. Indeed, GMC and Big Beef hopped in bed, divided the world into those who did and did not eat animals, and proceeded to do what those who exploit animals for a living do so very well: they consolidated their power and exploited the weakest.

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

May 1, 2013

Doublethink in the promotion and defense of wind power

Doublethink is an aspect of Newspeak, the language used in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to simplify and control thought, not only of the general public (the "proles"), but also of the very bureaucrats running the state. Doublethink acknowledges cognitive dissonance betweeen what the state says and what it does and simply asserts that they are the same. This is exemplified in the slogans: "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." This is the kind of language that is called "Orwellian".

"Ignorance is Strength": This doublethink concept is the basis of modern propaganda (and marketing), in which simple lies are propagated and those who question them or recognize them as such are marginalized as "conspiracy theorists", kooks, Luddites, flat-earthers, Nimbys, sockpuppets, "virulent", "vitriolic", "opportunist", "terrorist".

Large-scale industrial wind power, marketed as "green energy", must use such smear and doublethink to avoid the undeniable fact that it is not "green" in the slightest. Recently, for example, complaints of adverse health effects and examination of that issue have been attacked as a campaign to harm the industry: "Wind farms don’t harm human health, anti-wind campaigners do." The victims and those who listen to them are blamed for the ill health obviously caused by wind turbines. The aggressor is the victim.

Health is Disease. Ignorance is Health. Effect is Cause. Noise is Silence.

Wind industry flacks have achieved the level of doublespeak that distinguishes the Ingsoc bureaucrats of Orwell's Oceania, seemingly believing as true what they nonetheless know to be false. In addition to turning the table on health effects, they use doublespeak to deny or rationalize wind power's adverse environmental effects, lack of fossil fuel reduction, dependence on subsidies, and unreliability:

Development is Conservation.
Blight is Beauty.
Add is Subtract.
Poverty is Wealth.
Dear is Cheap.
Wayward is Sure.

Update, May 9, 2013:  "Wind Watch" posted the following (and suggested a couple of corrections made here) on Facebook:
Is it significant that the most vehement hatred of those who question any aspect of industrial wind power comes from that part of the world called Oceania, which is what George Orwell also called the English superstate in Nineteen Eighty-Four? Often it seems that the industry and its committed defenders take their guidance from Orwell's (presciently) dystopian government. They use "doublespeak" to call industrial development green, to describe the industry as victimized by those it harms, to insist that killing birds is actually beneficial, and so on. Comment forums transform into "Two Minute Hates" when someone challenges the party line. And the busiest attackers are in present-day Oceania: anti-tobacco activist Simon Chapman, IBM employee Mike Barnard (from Ontario), and Infigen employee Ketan Joshi. The work of this triumvirate readily suggests three of the four ministries of Oceania: respectively, the Ministry of Love, the Ministry of Truth, and the Ministry of Plenty. The Ministry of Peace is of course represented by the wind industry itself.
Addenda, May 12, 2013:  “The common Fluency of Speech in many Men and [...] Women is owing to a Scarcity of Matter, and Scarcity of Words; for whoever is a Master of Language, and hath a Mind full of Ideas, will be apt in speaking to hesitate upon the Choice of both; whereas common Speakers have only one Set of Ideas, and one Set of Words to cloath them in; and these are always ready at the Mouth.” —Jonathan Swift

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” (1946)

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism