Thursday, March 02, 2006

the wild slide – short takes

Opec accuses Bush of threatening energy security
Moving away from oil made it more difficult for producing countries to invest the billions of dollars needed to ensure enough output to meet future demand, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the group that control's 40 per cent of world oil supplies, argued in the commentary of its monthly Bulletin magazine.
The group's comments came in direct response to Mr Bush's repeated calls for the US to reduce by 75 per cent its "addiction" to oil from the Middle East by 2020.

Poor OPEC – On the wrong side of history, too feckless to even leave a toothmark on the pathetic likes El Presidente Bush. Better put your dentures in before you go ‘sploring for oil.

Study - Decline in (Autism) After Removal of (Mercury)
According to the study “[t]he results indicate that the trends in newly diagnosed NDs correspond directly with the expansion and subsequent contraction of the cumulative mercury dose to which children were exposed from [thimerosal-containing vaccines] through the U.S. immunization schedule.”
The authors point out that their finding that the VAERS and CDDS databases show strong associations between thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders completely contradicts the 2004 findings contained in a report published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences – which was based on data controlled exclusively by the Center for Disease Control’s National Immunization Program and unavailable to outside researchers.

News flash! Flossing your brain with mercury is still bad! Scientists who work for certain government or industry concerns and claim otherwise based on data they don't release -- feh. These types shouldn't call themselves scientists, when they are simply mercenaries.

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'
"I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said.

You may be thinking, “I’m white, and I drive a Hummer, so why the fuck should I worry?” Well, first they come for the Geo Metros. Then they come for the Diesel Rabbits. Say nothing, and one day they may come for you.

(SciAm Blog) Facing the Facts on Oil
Just under Glenn Zorpette's nice op-ed article in today's New York Times (see entry below) was a large ad-ed placed by ExxonMobil. Titled "Peak Oil? Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no sign of a peak," the piece blows smoke at the growing consensus among serious petroleum geologists that production of the cheap oil on which all modern economies are based is fast approaching the day when it stops growing to match demand, levels off for a while, and then inexorably falls. While many of its peer companies, including BP and Shell, have recognized the coming sea change and have begun (slowly) restructuring their research and development accordingly, ExxonMobil has apparently decided to address this looming socioeconomic problem by trying to convince the public and politicians that it isn't there. The facts suggest otherwise. Scientific American was among the first to present the scientific basis for projections of a peak in global production of conventional crude, in our 1998 special section "Preventing the Next Oil Crunch," which led with an article on "The End of Cheap Oil."

Hilarious. Exxon took out an ad against “Peak Oil”. Good times. Good times. That pretty much becomes the cornerstone of my argument, don’t know about anybody else out there.

Finally, your moment of Blog Zen
Eric Rachner poses a question:

Quote by the Mogambo, or Ron Paul?

The economic law that honest exchange demands only things of real value as currency cannot be repealed. The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or Euros. The sooner the better.

Answer here.


At 9:34 AM, March 03, 2006, Blogger NeonTetra said...

KBR constucting detention camps on US soil? "Rapid developement of other programs?" Ominous indeed. This new piece sure went through quietly. Thanks for bringing it up.

At 12:50 PM, March 03, 2006, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Skeptico has harsh words for the anti-vaccinationists, including a whole section devoted to debunking the claimed link between thimerosal and autism.

This post has a roundup of links to studies showing no association between thimerosal and autism.  Most damning are this piece, with graphs showing parallel increases in autism in the US and Great Britain despite vastly different exposures to thimerosal, and this one showing parallel increases in autism in Denmark despite the removal of thimerosal from Danish vaccines in 1995.

At 7:55 PM, March 03, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

engineer-poet, thanks for the comments.

Things are not clear on this issue; contradictory studies, scientists at odds, the warnings from internal merck scientists re thimerosal.

But you brought up skeptics, so allow me a retort.

The idea that you can use a mercury-based fixing agent in vaccines, (mostly as a cost saving measure) and not have it affect young children is an extraordinary claim.

and as any skeptic will tell you, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

hiding data doesn't cut it.

(also, organized skeptics seem a lot like lemmings to me. They all seem to walk at the same speed, and read the same textbooks.)

At 9:52 PM, March 03, 2006, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

IIRC, the amount of mercury in the preservative is far smaller than the amount shown to cause symptoms of toxicity.  It is also eliminated from the body over time.  Further, the symptoms of mercury poisoning do not resemble autism in the least.  The extraordinary claim is not that thimerosal does not cause toxic effects, it is that it does.

There's more reason to discount the thimerosal claim, from neurology.  It turns out that social organization in primates is driven by "mirror neurons"; in autistics, these neurons are displaced in the brain and probably do not function properly.  This error in development occurs in utero and could not be affected by childhood vaccinations.

At 1:53 AM, March 04, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

E-P, thanks for the follow-up.

One of the issues which complicates the actual dosage recieved for any random child, in the U.S. or in the Europe or wherever, is that the amount of vaccines given to children was steadily rising through the eighties and nineties. The dosages thus increased beyond the safe projected level, (not that serious testing was done in the first place.)

As for the "in utero" theory, this is speculative, and in part based on limited animal research. It does not match the experience of many parents who watched their children regress from being social, interactive, to autistic which is why an environmental toxin was proposed in the first place.

At 12:50 PM, March 04, 2006, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

And everyone who can argue a case (let alone judge one) ought to know what a post-hoc fallacy is.  There are an enormous number of things going on in a developing brain, and the fact that a problem becomes apparent at a certain time does not mean that the cause happened at that time.  Think Tay-Sachs and sickle cell disease; both are inborn at fertilization, but Tay-Sachs appears at about a year and sickle cell does nothing until the body switches from fetal to adult hemoglobin.

Let me state right here that autism is a tragedy.  We should certainly learn what causes it and how to treat and prevent it, if possible.  But blaming vaccine preservatives which have been proven blameless by tests on the scale of nations compounds the tragedy:

1. It causes some parents to place their children at additional risk of other harms.
2. It drives companies out of the business of producing essential vaccines.
3. It makes it likely that fewer, rather than more, vaccines will be produced.

Grieving parents deserve sympathy.  Grieving parents who team up with money-sucking lawyers to demonize and fleece innocent people deserve to be slapped down HARD.

At 12:02 AM, March 05, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

E-P, I'll give you the last word if you want it; We have a sharp disagreement here, but I'm glad you are taking the time to explain your position.

You claim post hoc, but comparing autism to genetic maladies like tay- sachs may be a non-sequiter. Amongst autism researchers, the question of environmental toxins is still being debated and tested. There may be a majority opinion, but there is no consensus.

Money sucking lawyers certainly do less to advance civilization than scientists. Activism without facts is dangerous.

That said, ultimately I frame things very differently than you.

You forgot the money sucking drug companies.

Every vaccine a Merck et al schedules is worth billions. The pressure is enormous. I'm in favor of vaccines as a powerful tool, but I'm unconvinced that children need 30 odd vaccines before they are twelve. Measles and Rubella, bully. Hep B, sorry, no.

Drug companies have their own greed to blame for the fact that parents have become concerned.
"Newsday New York reports this morning that "A memo from Merck & Co. shows that, nearly a decade before the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent."

The March 1991 memo, obtained by The Times, said that "6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish."

"When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large," said the memo from Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, an internationally renowned vaccinologist. It was written to the president of Merck’s vaccine division."

The reason autism occurs is not yet known. Mercury is a perfectly reasonable suspect in a complex organic system. Thus the report I originally referred to.

So I applaud the drug companies for removing thimerosal from their vaccines. (The sound of one hand clapping)


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