January 25, 2013

Glenn Greenwald | Bill Maher | Prozac

Glenn Greenwald's reader Q&A
2. Bill Maher's new season of "Real Time" has begun
3. "They said it was safe"
About ME/CFS


I am still not well, which is why there was yesterday no Nederlog. It's mostly problems with my eyes, that cause me to sleep to little. (It's improving. Some. Slowly.)

This Nederlog is about Glenn Greenwald and a recent Q&A session he did; about the start of Bill Maher's "Real Time", about gun laws, torture, and disappearing rights; and about Prozac (aka fluoxetine). And in section 2 I mention a possible explanation of the many mass murders in the US, where guns are easily available and the usage of anti-depressants is very common.

1. Glenn Greenwald's reader Q&A 
If you ask me - but why would you? - there is a great lack of intelligent and informed journalists and readers of journalism everywhere, and there also is some sort of correlation between the two, in that I believe there would be more of the one kind if there would be more of the other.

One of the few journalists I know who is consistently intelligent, informed and also courageous is Glenn Greenwald, who currently writes for The Guardian (these days the best English daily, by far), in a series called "On security and liberty".

In case you're interested: The latest in his series is
where he answers questions by readers about issues like torture, US politics, gun control, drones and more, so anyone can find out whether he is a man worth reading.

I think he is.

Here are two consecutive wise paragraphs by him, explicitly offered as too brief answers to imporant questions:

I would say this: one indisputable lesson that history teaches is that any structures built by human beings - no matter how formidable or invulnerable they may seem - can be radically altered, or even torn down and replaced, by other human beings who tap into passions and find the right strategy. So resignation - defeatism - is always irrational and baseless, even when it's tempting.

I think the power of ideas is often underrated. Convincing fellow citizens to see and care about the problems you see and finding ways to persuade them to act is crucial. So is a willingness to sacrifice. And to create new ways of activism, even ones that people look askance at, rather than being wedded to the approved conventional means of political change (the ballot box).

Put otherwise - and I am not saying Greenwald would agree, I give my own take, as I always do when speaking for myself: If you don't fight for your rights, chances are you loose them. And: Political leaders and their professional servants aka "civil servants" tend much more probably to come from the worst rather than the best, in any society, at any time, not only because power corrupts, but because the corrupt seek power.

Bill Maher's new season of "Real Time" has begun

As I have repeatedly said since acquiring fast internet in the summer of 2009, I like Bill Maher: He is smart, sensible, courageous and funny.
This is nearly a quarter of an hour, on gun control (roughly 300 hundred million people and roughly 300 hundred million guns in the US), and on torture.

As to gun ownership: I am very probaby in the European minority who is in favour of civilians being able to own guns: You can't trust the state or its servants, and if the civil population is almost wholly without means of defense, any dictatorial state is much easier to surrect. But this does not mean I sympathize with the NRA, nor that there is not much to be said for better gun control in the US.

The debate in the show is sensible, but did not include a point that I think bears serious investigation: Most of the mass murderers were white males from middle class background in their late teens or early twenties who are, after the fact, accused of having had a history of mental problems.

Two questions that bear serious investigation, in my opinion, having lately consumed a lot of literature on scarcely properly investigated "side effects" of anti-depressants, so much overprescribed these days because prescribing them is  so very profitable:
  • How many of these five were on anti-depressants, and if so which ones?
  • If the majority was, could this not have been a factor in their insane behavior?
If you are in doubt about the rationality or the evidential basis of my question, see section 3 below.

As to torture: The very sensible point gets repeatedly made that if one party in a war think it justified to torture the enemy, the other party will tend to feel justified to be just as beastly. Even in war, some sort of restraint is wise, even in "just wars" (which are rare).

Also, in case you were in doubt, here is part of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, quoted from the Wikipedia article on torture:
Article 1
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 3
1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
And don't miss this part on the human rights people until recently enjoyed:

3. "They said it was safe"

I mentioned above there is some ground to believe that anti-depressants not only may help against depressions, but also may cause murder and suicide. Here is a link to an interesting if gruesome article in The Guardian from ... October 1999, that mentions Prozac and professor Healy - see my: "The marketing of medicines" for more on these - among other things:
It wasn't, and what is much worse: The evidence it wasn't, sometimes, was falsified.

Jan 26, 2013: Corrected some typos and inserted some links. (The typos tend to be the effects of the combination of my being human, having ME/CFS, having bad eyes, and using bad html-editors, the last as a consequence of liking Linux much better than MS Windows: It is much better, but not in all respects.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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