Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SAFER Choices (for Christchurch/New Zealand?)

City and County of DenverImage via Wikipedia

New Videos from Safer Choice

Denver could see $1 fine for marijuana possession

Denver goes for Safer Communities ~ Huh? Surely not... The Mayor of Denver chairs this committee!

So why would Christchurch's Bonny Prince Bob Parker [and his fiefdom] not want to discuss why so?

He's for SAFER communities, or is he just a media savy pretence on two legs?

And this on Cancer Society Day....

Tashkin Defends His Findings

Investigators from New Zealand recently got widespread media attention for a study contradicting Tashkin's results. "Heavy cannabis users may be at greater risk of chronic lung disease –including cancer– compared to tobacco smokers," is how BBC News summed up the New Zealanders' findings.

(extract from )

The very small size of the study –79 smokers took part, 21 of whom smoked cannabis only– was not held against the authors. In fact, the small New Zealand study was given much more coverage by the corporate press than the large UCLA study that preceded it.

Lung cancerImage via Wikipedia

The New Zealand study was portrayed as the latest word on this important subject. As if scientific inquiry were some kind of tennis match and the truth just gets truthier with every volley.

Tashkin criticized the New Zealanders' methodology in his talk at Asilomar: "There's some cognitive dissonance associated with the interpretation of their findings. I think this has to do with the belief model among the investigators and –I wish they were here to defend themselves– the integrity of the investigators… They actually published another paper in which they mimicked the design that we used for looking at lung function."

Tashkin spoke from the stage of an airy redwood chapel designed by Julia Morgan. He is pink-cheeked, 70ish, wears wire-rimmed spectacles. "For tobacco they found what you'd expect: a higher risk for lung cancer and a clear dose-response relationship. A 24-fold increase in the people who smoked the most… What about marijuana? If they smoked a small or moderate amount there was no increased risk, in fact slightly less than one. But if they were in the upper third of the group, then their risk was six-fold… A rather surprising finding, and one has to be cautious about interpreting the results because of the very small number of cases -- fourteen— and controls -- four."

Tashkin said the New Zealanders employed "statistical sleight of hand." He deemed it "completely implausible that smokers of only 365 joints of marijuana have a risk for developing lung cancer similar to that of smokers of 7,000 tobacco cigarettes… Their small sample size led to vastly inflated estimates… They had said 'it's ideal to do the study in New Zealand because we have a much higher prevalence of marijuana smoking.' But 88 percent of their controls had never smoked marijuana, whereas 36% of our controls (in Los Angeles) had never smoked marijuana. Why did so few of the controls smoke marijuana? Something fishy about that!"

Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in...Strong words for a UCLA School of Medicine professor!

As to the highly promising implication of his own study –that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant— Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed —a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, said Tashkin.

Daffodil Day 2009Of course, a certain 'anti-cancer in society public speaker" standing on Christchurch's High Street this afternoon, brought this, and more, to the notice of an engrossed public gallery. All while the 'city ambassadors' continued to ask said offending soapboxer to cease 'standing on the furniture'. The Police were called. The right to stand on the furniture was upheld. As was the right to be anti-cancer!

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lion of Waipapa was my friend...

A close-up of a resting Sea Lion in :en:Galapa...Image via Wikipedia

and always there for me (and anyone else I took there. )

Endangered New Zealand sea lion shot

17/08/2009 10:19:49

Mapa de The CatlinsImage via Wikipedia

An endangered New Zealand sealion has been shot dead.

Map showing population density of a region of ...Image via Wikipedia

Southland's sea mammals slain
August 2009. A New Zealand sea lion and a leopard seal have been found dead on the same stretch of Southland coastline. Both animals died as the result of being shot, leaving staff from the Department of Conservation shocked and saddened.

"It makes no sense why these animals were gunned down and left on the beach to rot," said Department of Conservation Biodiversity Programme Manager Jessyca Bernard. "To find a sea lion at Waipapa Point and then a leopard seal at Waikawa Harbour only a few days later that had been killed in the same way defies explanation."
Lighhouse in the Catlins area. Note the conver...The New Zealand sea lion is one of the world's rarest sea lion species and fully protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978. Offences under the Act carry penalties including fines up to $250,000 or a prison sentence of six months.

The Department of Conservation would like to hear from anyone who could help identify persons responsible for the shootings

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PM’s Q/A? precursor drug ban or good science?

One Response to “..PM’s adviser recommends P precursor drug ban..”
MildGreens Says: August 18th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Peter Gluckman’s brief was as predictable as it was political. While the words all sounded good on 9-noon Radio New Zealand this morning, there has been no question of applied science to understanding how come it is so prevalent?

Or how come, with hundreds of labs having made all this potent stuff and so many who have tried it, so few people are presenting with problems?

Or what is the connection between violence, unintended consequences and burden on those who have nothing to do with the drug? And what proportion is attributable to the pharmacology and/or the set and setting?

What factors limit access to treatment is impacted by stigmatisation, and how might that affect outcomes?

And of interest to economists in particular, what relations does the illicit status of cannabis have in the prevalence of and direct harms attributable to more harmful drugs?

How might the study of Hawaii, its two pacific islands, with not dissimilar histories of indigenous to the land, same drug rules, and zero tolerance enforcement inform us?
Economics Professor James Roumasset might be a good source. (see his paper on Black Hole Politics)

And seeing as how Sir Peter Gluckman is so usefully flexible in his understandings between the science and ‘realities of politics’ consider these wider implications. Stuff like, where is the National Drug Policy benchmark documents like “cost/benefit analysis”. The Police’s is apparently not to be relied upon, it was another BERL boondoggle ‘academics’ from the science of economics exposed. (both of which we have a LAW COMMISSION inquiring into. )

Now there is some science I could respect.

PS, I have the flu, I am not finding PE particularly effective. There once was a Chinese medicine… it was good for weight loss and as a decongestant. It was so renowned we used science to learn how to make it out of drain cleaner. We used politics to make it expedient to do so. [Particularily in the context of Swine flu (H1N1) or any variant I may have to suffer.]

How do I convince skeptics that my access to off label COLDREX ain't political.Right now I could do with all the Chinese can get me. But I would have to go to NZ Customs to pick it up!

What the hell is wrong with science that ‘academics’ from one end of the country to the other don't line up behind Sir Peter and apply some scientific reason. We seem to be able to do it with Climate Change. ?

Any doubt the about the science behind such an initiative need only Google King County, Seattle AND “drug policy” to see what can happen when the Health and Law sectors have the mettle.

The principal objectives of this effort are: reductions in crime and public disorder; improvement of the public health; better protection of children; and wiser use of scarce public resources.

Sir Peter could video-conference Washington State Senator Roger Goodman.
Now that would make a mighty informing YouTube! Kim Hill, where are ya?

Can the Law Commission protect my right to informed consent: what is the best medicine available for my flu and why is this not a cost attributable to poor drug policy? [The burden is making me feel miserable and my k’nose is still runny. And I can’t do my work less I am prepared to knowingly infect someone. What increased harms are we measuring?]

Perhaps we should have a referendum. The debate would be a whole lot more interesting than hitting your kids, or not.

So many questions, so few answers. Portugal is looking good….

Friday, August 14, 2009

Key's bet each way against the Planet

As recent estimates of the rate of global warm...Image via Wikipedia

Nationals implausible marginal response (the 15% PM. Key is 'targeting' for 2020) is business as usual.

Any functional profit motivated business would have to drop its emissions by 15% purely due to energy saving efficiencies that would be normal business practice anyway. It represents a do nothing goal state pretending to be fiscally responsible.

When betting against the planet, the planet always wins.

The Stern report made it clear that what ever solution is chosen, it had to be equitable and enduring. To do so NOW was the least cost option and the price of carbon had to have a specific measurable target. But Stern's estimate of 70-90 pounds per tonne range to see the changes required is unlikely to pass any National caucus muster. That according to Stern's percentage of GDP 'in now' [about 1%] to drive a low carbon, less energy economy would place carbon at arround NZ$250 per tonne.

New Zealand dollarImage via Wikipedia

And for carbon consumers, the ones that save, there could be a windfall selling the unused portion. If my 40% saving off my 9 tonnes per annum between now and 2020 is amortised to net present value based on collective perceived risk and corporate desire to risk manage carbon intensity my savings today are 3.6t x11yr x $250 = $9000 or about half a starbucks coffee/day. In eleven years time, I could expect $2 wont even buy the sugar!

Such a system would be a equitable property rights 'contraction and convergence' whereas Key's Brownlee's, Smith's et al represents the haves; all expansion and divergence. It engages no one other than accountants whose propensity for cost plus is legendary.

Social capital is intergenerational equity, if 40% reduction by 2020 is 'to big', a bridge to far, it will only be so because we waited to long to do what is required to fix it. It is population based stakeholder buy in that is required. Leaving it up to corporate greenwashing is a risk to great to bear.

Smith is a stool pidgeon.

The responsibility lies on Key's caucus's shoulders, not the chosen emissary to Copenhagen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lest We Forget....

When Dogs AttackImage by Matthew Saunders via Flickr

....600,000 Kiwi Canines never bit anyone today.

see the now world wide story here

Woman charged after savage dog attack

TV3 News - Jane Luscombe - ‎8 hours ago‎
"You go out to a dog bite you don't expect to see what we saw. It was just horrendous. That's one that will probably stay with me forever. ...

This is not about the breed. This is about responsible ownership and training (about which we have few facts). There is nothing in this tragedy so far that indicates the dogs were 'set' onto the victim here. Further, this wasn't atypical territorial/resource guarding, it was pack hunting. Pack hunting is a trained/learned behavior, it is not innate. A good (pig) dog doesn't just launch into hunting mode - it should exhibit controlled restraint until commanded. Otherwise it is not a good hunters pig dog and is ever present danger and a management problem. (even Wolves learn this as pups)

If one or more of these dogs had acute socialisation issues it certainly suggests one or more (possibly all) of these dogs needed to be kenneled AND to be managed effectively off leash. But that still doesnt mean the events that unfolded was inherently criminal.
The owner(in this case) may have been presented with a very difficult situation, with NO knowledge she had 'savage dogs' in her care. They may, on the other hand have been on her property because one or more had 'issues'. But that doesn't make her CRIMINALLY culpable.

I have no doubt that one or more of these dogs WILL have exhibited pack hunting aggression towards moving human 'prey' before. The questions remain, did SHE know this, if so, had she taken steps to manage this, and what can we learn from 'what failed' here.

However, the unique circumstances of that management may not be directly the fault of the 'guardian' in this case and despite the baying for blood by a motley rabble of concerned citizens, the question of culpability is made complex now the eight dogs have been punished (euthanised).

['Destroyed' is a gawd awful term, and very unhelpful in its fueling of prejudices and emotions. Calls for the two restrained dogs that did nothing to also be 'destroyed' beggars belief and says more about people than it does dogs. ]

What we can predict will be clamouring for tougher laws targeting 'those people' and 'those dogs' and much venting of spleens and little practical real world solutions. While this is a case with some very unique characteristics, such exceptional cases tend to inform policy poorly.

Regrettably and more broadly, the more we keep our dogs on short leads and behind high fences the less socialised our dogs are becoming thus producing the very outcomes we set out to solve. This case will not help informed discussion and will lead to preventative euthanisation without due considerations. (cf:Invercargill, Bill Watts)

One can only hope the prognosis for the lass bitten so terribly is as as good as medicine, doctors and ACC can make possible. The scars will be more than skin deep and the burden will fall on those all around her.

We as a collective community should direct our concerns at restoring 'what is broken' and not distort the discourse so we can learn 'collectively' what to look out for where we live and better enable common civility to protect us.

Lest we forget, there is no rule we can make that is that is smarter than us.

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Social Ecologist 'at large'
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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