fnord Marijuana fnord

Every time a scary article about pot comes out, I figure the thing to do is wait a day and see two things: (1) if it’s real, and (2) if the purported risk, put in context, is irregular compared to, say, booze.

This recent 40% schizophrenia fnord earns a negative on both counts (HuffPo) :

(1) There is no correlation in the general population:

Since marijuana use rates have skyrocketed since the 1940’s and 50’s, going from single digit percentages of the population trying it to a peak of some 60% of high school seniors trying it in 1979 (stabilizing thereafter at roughly 50% of each high school class), we would expect to see this trend have some visible effect on the prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychoses.
When cigarette smoking barreled through the population, lung cancer rose in parallel; when smoking rates fell, lung cancer rates fell. This is not the case with marijuana and psychotic disorders; if it were, we’d be seeing an epidemic of psychosis.

(2) The risk is, as usual, lower than alochol.

Furthermore, very little of the coverage put the risk in context. A 40% increase in risk sounds scary, and this was the risk linked to trying marijuana once, not to heavy use. To epidemiologists, however, a 40% increase is not especially noteworthy– they usually don’t find risk factors worth worrying about until the number hits at least 200% and some major journals won’t publish studies unless the risk is 300 or even 400%. The marijuana paper did find that heavy use increased risk by 200-300%, but that’s hardly as sexy as try marijuana once, increase your risk of schizophrenia by nearly half!

By contrast, one study found that alcohol has been found to increase the risk of psychosis by 800% for men and 300% for women. Although this study was not a meta-analysis (which looks at multiple studies, as the marijuana research did), it certainly is worth citing to help readers get a sense of the magnitude of the risk in comparison with other drugs linked to psychosis.

It is fascinating to watch these studies. It’s not so much that the scientists keep trying, but that they keep getting funding, and that the results reach into the front pages of newspapers, while article after article after article decries the hazards of more lethal drugs, including the perfectly legal alcohol.

Make no mistake. Alcohol is legal for the same reasons smoking used to be allowed everywhere: it’s social standing. Pot, on the other hand, is illegal because of its social atmospherics, not for any legitimate medical reason.

Iraq Wins Asian Cup

If the United States’s hockey victory in 1980 was a tonic for the “malaise” of the time, stemming from inflation, high oil prices, and a military setback or two (except for the core inflation, sounds familiar. . .) you can imagine how Iraqis must feel about their country’s first-ever Asian Cup title.

Now, for those of you uninitiated to the many wonders of international soccer, this means Iraq will play in the Confederations Cup in 2009, along with North American champion US, South American champion Brazil, World Cup champion Italy, and the eventual Oceania (my guess that’s New Zealand), Africa, and European champions… plus the host, South Africa.

And what did the team captain say?

“I want America to go out,” he said. “Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn’t invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon.”

Mahmoud also said he will not return to Iraq to celebrate.

“I don’t want the Iraqi people to be angry with me,” he said. “If I go back with the team, anybody could kill me or try to hurt me.”

Well, General Petraeus–how many more Friedman Units do you need to fix that?

Speeding Up

Things are speeding up. The next few weeks are going to be interesting. Will the Bushies fall back on the terror threat, or is the lid really about to come off?

Impeach Gonzo

OK, fair enough, removing the President is a big deal, and there’s an election in a 15 months. And he was elected.

Not so for the AG. There are not 34 senators who will put their name down as being this guy’s escape. Go for it.

What Green Tags are For

It was a New York Times article on bourgeois suburban SUVites using carbon offsets to salve their guilt that started it. Now the Conservatron conventional wisdom is that such offsets are the silly currency of preening moneybag moralists, and the Enviro conventional wisdom is that they are a facile delay to real action on global warming.

Although Green Tags are different from Carbon Offsets in nuanced but important ways, the idea behind them is generally the same; therefore, they are framed in the same way. This is a shame because Green Tags are a far more dynamic and interesting tool than either ideology bothers to acknowledge.

Carbon Offsets generally promise to balance carbon emissions via a future equal and opposite reaction. Green Tags, which to the best of my knowledge predate offsets, are an attempt to create value for “green” energy that was already produced – a value that is not reflected in the price of “green” energy.

Say a home or business establishes a solar array. For every megawatt of “green” energy produced by the array a corresponding megawatt was not produced by whatever mix of resources the local utility uses to provide energy to the building, resulting in a certain amount of greenhouse gases that were not emitted.

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the creator of this program, pays the owner of the array for each megawatt of power they produced, establishing a price for the green house gases that were not created by use of their array. These are the Green Tags. They are then sold, for a profit, to entities or individuals as a means to be carbon neutral. This helps to correct the market error of having no penalty for polluting the commons, and therefore, ascribing no additional value to energy sources that do not pollute the commons. This also makes small scale “green” power more profitable for the owner, increasing the incentive to invest in such products.

Companies purchasing Green Tags include some obvious suspects such as the crunchy potato chip manufacture Kettle Foods, but also surprises like mining concerns and other heavy industries. These groups probably bought them to prepare for a future where carbon is taxed.

Green Tags are about the best that can be done about global warming through the voluntary methods that the Conservatrons used to push. They will not solve Global warming on their own, but they are much more than a tool for yuppies to buy their way into environmental heaven.

Some wisdom from 20 years ago.

Bodies fill the fields I see, hungry heroes end
No one to play soldier now, no one to pretend
Running blind through killing fields, bred to kill them all
Victim of what said should be
A servant `til I fall

Soldier boy, made of clay
Now an empty shell
Twenty one, only son
but he served us well
Bred to kill, not to care
Do just as we say
Finished here, Greeting Death
He’s yours to take away

Back to the front
You will do what I say, when I say
Back to the front
You will die when I say, you must die
Back to the front
You coward
You servant
You blind man

Barking of machine gun fire, does nothing to me now
Sounding of the clock that ticks, get used to it somehow
More a man, more stripes you wear, glory seeker trends
Bodies fill the fields I see
The slaughter never ends

Why, Am I dying?
Kill, having no fear
Lie, live off lying
Hell, Hell is here

I was born for dying

Life planned out before my birth, nothing could I say
had no chance to see myself, molded day by day
Looking back I realize, nothing have I done
left to die with only friend
Alone I clench my gun

Back to the front!


Halls of Justice Painted Green
Money Talking
Power Wolves Beset Your Door
Hear Them Stalking
Soon You’ll Please Their Appetite
They Devour
Hammer of Justice Crushes You
Overpower

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can’t Believe the Things You Say
I Can’t Believe
I Can’t Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Apathy Their Stepping Stone
So Unfeeling
Hidden Deep Animosity
So Deceiving
Through Your Eyes Their Light Burns
Hoping to Find
Inquisition Sinking You
With Prying Minds

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can’t Believe the Things You Say
I Can’t Believe
I Can’t Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Lady Justice Has Been Raped
Truth Assassin
Rolls of Red Tape Seal Your Lips
Now You’re Done in
Their Money Tips Her Scales Again
Make Your Deal
Just What Is Truth? I Cannot Tell
Cannot Feel

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can’t Believe the Things You Say
I Can’t Believe
I Can’t Believe the Price We Pay
Nothing Can Save Us

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real