Saturday, June 19, 2010


I just saw the movie Invictus. The name is Latin for "unconquered, unconquerable, undefeated" and is the title of the very inspiring poem that helped Nelson Mandela survive 30 years of imprisonment by the apartheid regime in South Africa. The movie is very inspiring also.

I knew that Nelson Mandela was a remarkable man, but after seeing this movie I realize that he is not only an amazing statesman but also an incredible human being.

For me, one line in particular from the movie sums up Nelson Mandela: The night after visiting the prison where Mandela was held for 30 years and seeing the tiny cell he lived in and the yard where he did hard labor, the captain of the South African Rugby Team is staring out of his hotel window when his wife asks him what he is thinking about and he says, "I was thinking how a man could spend thirty years in prison, and come out and forgive the men who did it to him..."

I highly recommend the movie.

Oh, and the poem, Invictus:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley 1849 - 1902

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Google getting in more trouble over privacy violations

I'm not particularly anti-Google, but when a for-profit company tries to put itself forward as primarily a public benefit entity, then I don't like it.

For many years the persona that has been promoted for Google has been one of anti-corporate and pro-user. They try to make themselves seem like "one of the boys". But the truth is that Google is in it for the money. An alarming example of this is the personal data harvesting activities that the Google Maps Street Scenes photographing cars were engaged in. Many countries around the world are now investigating Google for this.

So don't fall for it. If a company wants to be a public benefit entity then they need to change to a non-profit status and act accordingly.

Google's Wi-Fi data harvest facing more probes, lawsuits

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And you thought "Men who stare at goats" was bad

The movie "Men who stare at goats" was not very good. It had great potential - based on a true story of the military trying out "psychic warriors" - but it never delivered on the humor. However, we find that reality - what the military and the CIA were really up to - is even weirder and far worse than anything in the movie.

New documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that "human experiments … not easily justifiable on medical-therapeutic grounds" were not a problem for the CIA and its willing accomplices in the psychiatric community. Experimenting on unwitting subjects? No problemo. Pentagon officials are said to have “work[ed] directly with the CIA” and dosed “thousands” of military subjects with LSD and other drugs.

And what has changed to make us think they ever stopped?

Read more at: Chemical Concussions and Secret LSD: Pentagon Details Cold War Mind-Control Tests

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don't get complacent about Privacy

Google is in the news again for privacy violations. Seems their cars that went around photographing your neighborhood so they could show them on Google Maps were also recording your personal Wi-Fi traffic.

Now that they have been found out they are very apologetic, but the point is that they did it.

It just goes to show that you can't relax when it come to privacy on the Internet. And you can't regard any company as totally trustworthy.

Google apologizes for grabbing personal info off of Wi-Fi networks

Monday, May 03, 2010

How to screw up a scientific study

All too often the media publicizes the findings of a study without any sort of thought or logical analysis. A scientist says "this study shows that ..." and the press mindlessly repeats it. Never mind that the interpretation of the data is incorrect, a scientist said it, therefore it is gospel.

It reminds me of the middle ages where anything a priest said was blindly believed.

What this is all leading to is my comment on the recent idiotic media reports that fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection from cancer. Despite 50 years of research and over 15,000 studies that prove that fruits and vegetables provide major protection from cancer, a single, poorly executed and poorly interpreted study says otherwise and the media trumpets it. It just goes to show that you really have to pay attention and question everything.

For an accurate analysis of that recent study: Fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection from cancer?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Food: Healthy or Unhealthy

Which foods promote health and which don't? Here is an article that gives you some accurate, science based data. I think you will be surprised.

What are true health-promoting and disease-promoting foods?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The big question: Organic or Conventional?

Some people swear by organic produce, others say there is little or no difference between organic and conventional. Here is an article that helps clarify the issue: Which foods should we buy organic?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I'm mad as hell and ... they're giving me medication

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is the "bible" of psychiatry. It is the book in which psychs list everything they think they can make a fast buck out of ... oops, I mean, in which psychs list all mental illnesses that can be billed against medical insurance.

Every new edition contains more and more illnesses and every new edition adds more and more normal behavior to the list of illnesses.

Take for example the famous monologue by Peter Finch that won him an Oscar in the movie "Network" (a must-see movie from the 1970's). According to the latest proposed DSM, rather than receive an Oscar, Finch would instead be put on psychiatric drugs because his speech clearly shows that he has a disorder. Yes folks, getting mad is now a psychiatric disorder: Psychiatrists say that being angry is a mental illness.

FYI: Here is the monologue:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Obama Health Care - Fact and Fiction

Here is a great table of Myth vs Fact regarding the health care bill recently signed into law by President Obama. Scroll down a little to see the chart: Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill.

Personal Comment:
I grew up with the National Health system in Britain and I was very thankful that it existed. My personal opinion is that health care, like education is not something that should be run for profit. It is too intimate to the welfare of a country and its people.

The purpose of health care should be to help people get and stay well. The purpose of the US health care system is to may a big fat juicy profit. Making a profit in this field is at odds with helping people get and stay well. You don't make money from well people, you make a profit from sick people and from people who are forced to take a medication for the rest of their lives. This tends to make you ignore successful alternatives that don't cost a lot of money such as life-style and dietary changes.

Thus the system is not being run for the right reasons and thus the abuses that people complain about. So, I would support the introduction of a system in the US similar to those in other modern Western countries such as Britain.

Every system has its failings, but the current US system has way too many and should be drastically reformed. Unfortunately, the Obama Health Care bill simply puts more money into the pockets of the insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry and medical industry and does almost nothing for the people who need health care the most.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Assassinations R US

It seems that the US Administration has a policy that assassination of both foreign nationals and American citizens is okay:

So much for civil liberties and human rights.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Worrying developments: Another reduction in our liberties

A foreign police organization is now free to do what it likes in the United States without oversight from any US law enforcement body. If that doesn't sound scary enough then read the full article: Immunity for INTERPOL in the US.

Whilst the article is written in an overly alarming way which may put some people off, please try to get past that and understand the actual substance of what has happened and the possible consequences.

The key data I saw in the article are:

INTERPOL now can conduct its operations on U.S. soil with zero accountability to anyone in this country.
INTERPOL records are beyond US citizens' Freedom of Information Act requests and from American legal or investigative discovery
Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?
Has this action effectively bypassed the Freedom of Information Act? Only time will tell, but many small changes like this add up to big chunks taken out of our rights.