Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prozac Doesn't Work

The new study on the ineffectiveness of antidepressants is being reported all over the place.

The Guardian (UK) Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists

Another article in the Guardian examines how the "depression" myth was created, The creation of the Prozac myth. This article is a must for anyone who wonders how could 40 million people be using a drug that not only doesn't work but has very serious side-effects?

The writers make some very pertinent observations, such as:

This process of marketing depression helped create the clinical category itself. If the new drugs affected mood, appetite and sleep patterns, then depression consisted of a problem with mood, appetite and sleep patterns. A subtle shift in the defining symptoms of depression took place over the years, so that the category itself became taken for granted. Lost here was the simple idea that there is a difference between surface symptoms (insomnia, loss of appetite, feeling low) and underlying causes, which may be different from case to case. The creation of the antidepressant market effectively disallowed this once crucial distinction.

From Darian Leader

and

Some people will be shocked to discover that Prozac has been prescribed so widely for decades when, in fact, it barely works. However, the real story is even worse. First, the findings are not new, and it is not only the Prozac group of antidepressants that we should be concerned about; second, the findings point to a general medical inability to understand evidence; and, finally, they reveal the dark side of company marketing, and the role of regulators.

From Prof. David Healy

I hope this isn't the last we hear about this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Study shows that Antidepressants don't work

A fellow blogger (Antidepressants Not Effective!) put me onto a new study from the University of Hull in the UK which proves that antidepressants don't work.

“The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking anti-depressants is not very great. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments. Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients.” The drugs included fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor), and Paroxetine (Seroxat).

Study casts doubt on anti-depressants

I bet you a couple of billion dollars that the drug companies and their mouth pieces in the psychiatric industry come out swinging on this one. They'll do everything they possibly can (other than tell the truth) to invalidate this study. There are tens of billions of dollars at stake here. The marketing and PR departments of Big Pharma are going to try to destroy the scientists who did this study just like they tried to destroy Professor David Healy after he wrote books, did studies, published papers and gave a lecture critical of antidepressants and the power of the pharmaceutical industry over psychiatry: The David Healy Affair.

As the old proverb says "Muck and money go together" (muck being dirt, filth, etc.) and there sure is a lot of money and muck in the pharmaceutical industry where the prevailing attitude seems to be, "Our drugs don't do anything for depressed people and are causing suicide? Not a problem, we're making plenty of money out of it."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feeling depressed about depression?

Here is a great article that addresses the question "What really is depression?" Seems even the "experts" don't really know:

When it Comes to Depression - Does Anyone Really Know What They Are Talking About?

But despite not knowing the "experts" still push drugs as the solution and the pharmaceutical companies still make billions.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ayreon - 01011001 - Waking Dreams

Someone has created a video of clips from the Matrix playing against the song "Waking Dreams" (the last few seconds of the music are not Ayreon).

The video is very well done and really works with the music, which is from the album Ayreon - 01011001.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: 01011001 by Ayreon



How can you do better than perfect? Well, somehow Arjen Lucassen manages to do it album after album after album.

Arjen Lucassen is the king of rock opera (or "space opera") as he calls it. He creates these masterpieces under the band name "Ayreon," producing his first in 1995 with the album "The Final Experiment," followed by "Actual Fantasy" a year later.

The first Ayreon album I heard was "Into the Electric Castle." I was listening to an Internet radio station and there was a song that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was so good that I immediately bought the album and (if CDs were wear-out-able) I wore it out by playing it so much.

I was hooked and needed more, so I rushed out and bought the other Ayreon CDs that were available and when "Actual Fantasy" and "The Final Experiment" were re-released I gobbled them up too.

After I heard "Into the Electric Castle" I thought "Wow! What could he possibly do to beat that?" So he went on to do "Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer" and "Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator" and I thought "Wow! What could he possibly do to beat that?" So he produced "The Human Equation" and I thought "This is it. He can't possibly beat that." And so he just had to prove me wrong by coming up with the latest Ayreon album "01011001".

For those of you who are not computers, "01011001" is "Y" to a computer and it stands for the planet "Y". What is the planet "Y" you ask? Well, it's a planet that is part of the story of the rock opera called "01011001". I won't spoil it by giving you the story but what I will do is tell you a bit about the album.

There are 17 (count them 1, 2, 3 ... 15, 16, 17!!!) vocalists on this album, each of them singing the part of a different character. Arjen has an uncanny ability to not only put together vocalists with aesthetically harmonic or complementary voices, but he can also put the right vocalist with the right music.

And on top of all that he plays almost all of the instruments: guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, synth programming and probably more that I haven't yet spotted, and he plays them all as a total professional. In addition he invites awesome instrumentalists to join him, so we get the likes of Michael Romeo of "Symphony X", Lori Linstruth of "Stream of Passion", Joost van den Broek of "After Forever" and many others, playing incredible solos.

To get a taste of this album go to the Ayreon website and watch the "trailer" video: Ayreon Home Page

- Arjen Lucassen MySpace site - listen to some clips from the songs then scroll down and play the "Beneath the Waves" video.
- More Videos

Thursday, February 14, 2008

PowerToys for Vista

The really useful PowerToys for Windows that were available for Windows XP have not yet moved over to Vista. A couple of them are Vista compatible but most are not. The one I wanted to install on Vista was the "Open Command Window Here" utility, which is really useful - just right-click on a folder in Windows Explorer, select it and a command window opens up.

The good news is that I found some (only a few) PowerToys for Windows Vista on the TechNet website and one of them is ... the "Open Command Window Here" utility! So for all you nerdy types like me who still use the command line and have upgraded to Vista, fear no more! Help and succor have arrived. The cavalry is here. You are saved. Halilooya, praise the lord, etc., etc., etc.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nostalgic Review - Killer by Alice Cooper

"Killer" by Alice Cooper was the second album I ever bought. I remember hearing it at a friends house and being totally blown away by "Halo of Flies" and "Desperado". The entire album is great but those two songs stand out for me even 36 years after its release. Progressive rock and "heavy" rock were the genres I liked in those days and "Killer" definitely fell into the "progressive rock" category. Most people think of Alice Cooper as "shock rock" but that was his stage act and a way to get attention. The music itself and the lyrics were of a very high quality - clever and insightful.

I lost my LP of Killer many years ago during a move and a month ago I was feeling nostalgic so I decided to get Killer on CD and I was not disappointed: great songs and a theatrical climax with the song "Killer" itself - the one Alice used to hand himself to. A little melodramatic, but the song is about a gunman in the old west, lamenting his life and his impending death: "someone handed me this gun and I ... I gave it everything."

As I said my two favorites are "Halo of Flies" (a humorous song about spies, with great instrumental sections) and "Desperado" (a quiet, reflective song about a gun for hire in the old west - not to be confused with the Eagle's song of the same name).

Anyway, this is a five star album and well worth getting.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

PGP Freeware still exists

If you've tried to find the PGP Freeware version recently you'll know that it is not easy to find. No matter which search engine you use you won't find a place to download the freeware version. But there is one. They just renamed it to "Free PGP Desktop Trial Software". You have to read more on the page to see that, "You now receive all product functionality for 30 days before the product reverts to functionality available in former PGP Freeware."

I'm guessing they make it hard so people will give up and pay for it. I think that is silly. If they would make it clear that this is the freeware version and that you get the full version for 30 days then people are going to download it and try out the extra features and after 30 days a good number are going to want to keep the extra features. But that won't happen if you obscure the fact that the "trial" version is in fact the "freeware" version.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tax Protesters - the big mistake

This sad little story about Wesley Snipes and his tax woes made me think of the Tax Protester movement and how it is doomed to failure.

There are many arguments put forth to prove that American citizens are not required to pay Income Tax. However, they all fail on one point: It doesn't matter if you find a letter from Thomas Jefferson himself saying that income tax is an abomination, the IRS will still come after you and they have lots of guns and rifles to enforce their decrees.

The bottom line is that the Government needs money to operate, and although the income tax system is a communist/socialist methodology, it is the major source of income for Uncle Sam and it won't go away anytime soon and certainly refusing to pay it will only succeed in making the non-payer go away (to jail).

The real solution I see (other than making Ron Paul president) is to find a workable alternative. The best suggestion for this that I have seen is a National Retail Sales Tax. Check it out and tell me what you think.