Groucho Marx

Blog Archive – April 2007

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Honey bee on wax flower

“ It is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man's greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes. ”
C G Jung

“ No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.”
George Bernard Shaw

“ Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another. ”
Gottfried Leibniz

April 16 2007

Bees on their knees

More and more publicity is being given to the alarming collapse in bee populations in the US and Europe, the latest being in yesterday's Independent in an article entitled Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

"It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

"They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

"The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

"Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

"The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast."

The article goes on to say:

"The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

"No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks."

However, looking into more detailed, balanced and less sensationalist commentaries on the subject, such as the article on Colony Collapse Disorder in Wikipedia and the work of the Colony Collapse Disorder Working Group, based primarily at Penn State University, a different picture begins to emerge.

Firstly, although wild and feral populations have been under stress for many years from habitat destruction, urbanisation, pesticide misuse, crop pattern changes and probably cellphone use as well, the phenomenon appears to be limited to 'farmed' bees -- colonies kept and managed as commercial enterprises, and in particular, those of large commercial migratory beekeepers, some of whom have lost 50-90% of their colonies. Large-scale non-migratory enterprises are affected to a lesser extent. Large-scale migratory enterprises developed with the advent of modern hive construction, allowing colonies to be transported long distances and keepers to make a business from pollination services as well as, or instead of, honey production. The traditional small-scale self-employed beekeeper has been relegated to the status of little more than hobbyist.

Migratory beekeepers

US migratory beekeepers loading tractor-trailer load of bees for transport from South Carolina to Maine to pollinate blueberries.

According to Wikipedia:

"Honey bees are not native to the Americas, therefore their necessity as pollinators in the US is limited to strictly agricultural uses. They are responsible for pollination of approximately one third of the United States' crop species, including such species as: almonds, peaches, soybeans, apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and strawberries; many but not all of these plants can be (and often are) pollinated by other insects, including other kinds of bees, in the US, but typically not on a commercial scale. While some farmers of a few kinds of native crops do bring in honey bees to help pollinate, none specifically need them, and when honey bees are absent from a region, the native pollinators quickly reclaim the niche, typically being better adapted to serve those plants (assuming that the plants normally occur in that specific area)."

In other words, the critical crops affected are non-indigenous, artificially grown and maintained by man-made means, and are not part of the natural ecosystem of the area. So quoting Einstein and invoking the spectre of a worldwide disaster seems a little premature. (The dependence of the US agrarian economy on managed pollination is a direct result of pursuing large-scale monoculture which is naturally prone to catastrophic failure due to its inflexibility and lack of diversity.)

Secondly, the die-off has been logged for a good 35 years, progressively increasing over time such that between 1971 and 2006 it's estimated that 50% of the US population of the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) has disappeared. In late 2006 and early 2007, the rate of losses reached new heights and the term 'Colony Collapse Disorder' was coined to describe this more catastrophic turn of events.

Before the CCD label was attached to the phenomenon, it was variously known as autumn collapse, May disease, spring dwindle, disappearing disease, and fall dwindle disease, reflecting the fact that most die-offs were occurring at the change in seasons. The search for the cause has concentrated primarily on pathogens, pesticides, mites, genetically modified (GM) crops and cellular phone signal proliferation which have all been proposed as causative agents.

A preliminary survey by the Colony Collapse Disorder Working Group revealed that a period of "extraordinary stress" affected the colonies in question prior to the die-off. To date, this is the only factor that all of the reported cases of CCD have in common. Most often, the stress involved poor nutrition and/or drought.

Some researchers have attributed the syndrome to the practice of feeding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and protein supplements to augment winter stores. This was common to most beekeepers in Penn State's survey. Most beekeepers affected by CCD report that they use antibiotics and miticides in their colonies, though the lack of uniformity as to which particular chemicals are used makes it seem unlikely that any single such chemical is involved. Others have identified the characteristics of immune disorders, similar to AIDS in humans. Specifically, according to researchers at Penn State: "The magnitude of detected infectious agents in the adult bees suggests some type of immunosuppression."

The picture rapidly emerging from all this is of yet another species falling victim to large-scale commercially-driven farming methods. Limited genetic diversity combined with the cumulative effects of high doses of artificial feedstuffs (one of the early symptoms of impending CCD is that the colony is reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement), repeated antibiotic and pesticide treatments, unnatural environments and lifestyle (migratory keepers regularly transport their hives considerable distances, often across different climate zones which, for a creature with sophisticated navigation relying on precise environmental orientation, can only be enormously stressful and disturbing), all contributing to severely degraded immune systems in chronically-stressed insects. This leads to massive numbers of fatalities in the adult worker population in times of extra stress, and as immune deficiency increases, so the stress threshold becomes progressively lower, hence die-offs no longer occur just at change of seasons or periods of drought and low food supply. Note that it's the adult worker bees that are affected – the bees most likely to suffer from repeated dislocation.

Toxic chemical load is among the mechanisms which are more realistically proposed as causes of AIDS in humans.

When is the human race going to learn that we can't go on employing short-sighted unidimensional linear logic in relation to living systems? It results in such crazy practices as increasing the toxic chemical load (antibiotics and miticides) in response to illness which is inevitably produced by our unnatural, inhumane and artificial chemical-based husbandry methods. The fact that commercial bee populations are dying off in such large numbers really isn't at all surprising. The only thing to be wondered at is the resilience of the species in surviving for so long in the face of such an onslaught.

April 16 2007 | | | Permalink

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Drugs

“ An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. ”
Mahatma Gandhi

April 12 2007

A shot in the arm for sense

At last! Science is finally starting to talk sense about our completely irrational societal attitudes in discriminating between legal and illegal drugs.

The present Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the UK specifies the maximum penalties for Class A drugs which Include: Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, magic mushrooms (if prepared for use) amphetamines (if prepared for injection). The penalties for possession: up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine. Or both. Penalties for dealing: up to life in prison or an unlimited fine. Or both.

The classification of drugs into classes A, B and C is supposed to be based on a scientific assessment of the risk of substances so classified to individual health, and to society by people under their influence. However, to anyone who's conducted their own experiments into the effects of many of these drugs, or to those working with people who've become addicted to them, the arbitrary and often irrational classification system – particularly in its exclusion of the societally-sanctioned drugs alcohol and tobacco – has been open to serious question for some considerable time. At least 40 years. In research published in The Lancet on March 24, the authors of a comprehensive new assessment of varying 'harmful' criteria attributable to each classified drug conclude

"Our findings raise questions about the validity of the current Misuse of Drugs Act classification, despite the fact that it is nominally based on an assessment of risk to users and society. The discrepancies between our findings and current classifications are especially striking in relation to psychedelic-type drugs. Our results also emphasise that the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Misuse of Drugs Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary. We saw no clear distinction between socially acceptable and illicit substances. The fact that the two most widely used legal drugs lie in the upper half of the ranking of harm is surely important information that should be taken into account in public debate on illegal drug use. Discussions based on a formal assessment of harm rather than on prejudice and assumptions might help society to engage in a more rational debate about the relative risks and harms of drugs."
(Nutt, David, King, Lesley A, Saulsbury, William and Blakemore, Colin. Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse. The Lancet 2007; 369:1047-1053)

According to the study's rankings, alcohol deserves a Class A classification, and tobacco a Class B. Against this simple rational assessment, the hysteria surrounding illegal drugs use seems not only hypocritical but ludicrous. (Doubly so when seen in the light of the pharmaceutical industry's best efforts to ensure that the majority of the population are dependent on their products for life ...) This is not to say that the effects of drug addiction – illegal or legal – are to be taken lightly, but that labelling a substance 'legal' or 'illegal' does absolutely nothing to contribute to understanding or addressing the underlying problems that lead people into a path of addiction and harm. Neither does it overly discourage those who enjoy a good party, but the illegality disguises the fact that many substances can be and are enjoyed with responsibly and moderation, just as alcohol can, when there's no push-me-pull-you of stigma or 'forbdden fruit' attached to it.

Isn't it obvious that a desire to habitually over-indulge in any mood/perspective-altering substance is not 'caused' by the substance itself, but stems mainly from frustration, discomfort, even desperation, with the mood/perspective/situation that the person's in prior to taking the substance? Attempting to remove the means to escape doesn't solve the problem, and though some of these substances do themselves actively contribute to a cycle of dependence, this isn't how dependency begins and is not the sole factor in how it's maintained. Demonising the substance in a wave of hysterical over-reaction not only obscures the real problem but frustrates the development of a culture of responsible use for recreation and enjoyment.

Is it too much to hope for that some of the conclusions from this study might supplant the fear-based hype that masquerades as the drugs 'education' currently delivered to our children in schools? If we really want to protect them from harm, as opposed to merely educating them in the nature of propaganda, we need to tell them the truth. Sooner or later, the more adventurous ones find that out for themselves, and word soon spreads, so in this context what the 'education' achieves is to leave kids on their own to experiment with what safe and responsible use is all about, and gives them yet another reason to take what adults tell them with a very large pinch of salt. Or something else ...

April 12 2007 | | | Permalink

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“ Today as never before it is important that human beings should not overlook the danger of the evil lurking within them. It is unfortunately only too real, which is why psychology must insist on the reality of evil and must reject any definition that regards it as insignificant or actually non-existent. Psychology is an empirical science and deals with realities.”
C G Jung

" A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in it's beauty. "
Albert Einstein

" How could there be any question of acquiring or possessing, when the one thing needful for a man is to become – to be at last, and to die in the fullness of his being. "
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

" All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force ... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter. "
Max Planck

April 02 2007

Secret government

Two recent articles came in this week. One from the blog Thomas Paine's corner on the subject of 'Omnicidal Elitists: Their Killers, Their Science, Their Plan' and the other from Paul Levy's mailing list, entitled The War on Consciousness. Both heavily critical of the behaviour of the present US administration. (For those astrologically inclined: no surprise that both appeared within the shadow of both Pluto and Jupiter stationing retrograde.)

The former veers too far off the scale of plausible rationale for me, though the underlying patterns it highlights are valid enough. Paul Levy's essay is much more on target, and more so because it acknowledges the complicity and involvement of all citizens in the actions of their governments. The complicity he acknowledges is that of a gullible populace all too willing to swallow everything the Triad of government/corporate/media feed them. His solution to the situation is to wake up and smell the rot, and to say "no!" to what our governments are doing in our name. He continues ...

"The solution to winning the war on consciousness is for us to RECOGNIZE the nature of the war we are in, which can only happen through the agency of our consciousness. Realizing that the true war we are in is an assault on our own minds is the expansion of consciousness which is itself simultaneously the solution. From a deeper, more expansive perspective, the war on consciousness is itself the very catalyst and instrument for consciousness to awaken to itself.

"It is our turn to come together so as to render powerless these sick criminals who have been terrorizing us. We can help each other to access our intrinsic heart-centered power and collectively turn the light of truth upon them so that they have no where to hide from their lies and corruption. For “truth”, to quote the infamous Nazi Hermann Goering, is “the greatest enemy of the state.” Bush and the private interests who keep him in power and profit richly from his actions are absolutely terrified of one thing - the truth. As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Like pouring water on the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”, when the true light of awareness is shed on what Bush and the real powers behind him are doing, their illegitimate power over us is dis-spelled as the illusion it always was."

But do we get away quite so lightly? We are more complicit here than we know, and no matter how extreme and insane things are becoming, there is a huge danger in distancing ourselves in any way from the behaviour of our governments at this point in time. We always get the governments we deserve. The populace throws up leaders that are reflective of the state of the collective psyche at any one point in time. It is impossible for us to do anything else: we constitute the body politic. The very reason leaders become candidates for leadership in the first place is by virtue of their personal resonance with the particular archetypes constellating out of the collective, and votes are really neither here nor there. It's not conscious reasoned choice (or even widespread vote rigging) that decides an election so much as the currents in the collective unconscious, just the same as it's an individual's unconscious shadow dynamics that drive their behaviour for much of the time. Our leaders are our representatives in a very real sense, far more so than through the lip service paid to their outward role of representing their constituents' will.

The more Blair and Bush & Co act out their own shadow dynamics, the more cunning spin they put on their actions to gloss over their fundamental immorality, the more resources they put into the hands of the corporations, the more croneyism they exhibit, the more convinced they become that they alone are 'right', the more they seem determined to have things their own way, the more they reflect the very things that the majority of us are doing on our own small scales. Take any 'average' individual, magnify and inflate them up onto the world stage with all the power that comes with it, and you'll get something very similar, even if not so fittingly representative of the entire collective as those who got there by virtue of the perfection of their sympathetic resonance. As above, so below. As below, so above.

So as we continue to add extensions to our houses, or fell another block of woodland to build yet another McMansion, trade in the old saloon for one – no, make it two – of an ever-growing range of ever-larger gas-guzzling 4x4s, continue to subscribe to the idea that permanent economic growth, collectively and individually, is the only measure of success, believe that our viewpoint is the only 'true' one, limit our circle of interest and compassion to those of our 'tribe' however we might define it (and the rest can go hang), increase our employer's 'shrinkage' budget by helping ourselves to the odd 'perk', feel that we're somehow 'justified' in making the odd fraudulent insurance claim, attempt to save face by putting an interesting spin on our actions or otherwise lie to our friends and families and ourselves, throw out perfectly good household items because we want the newer, better model ... should we be in the least surprised that we get the leaders we do?

If there's immorality, or at best amorality, in government, corporations and media, then that's only because the same exists in the general population. Egotistical self-inflation at individual level can only find it's reflection in egotistical self-inflation at the top of the heap. And not just in our egos: in our bodies, our houses, our cars, our corporations (for more on this theme, see the article Time for a Change of Heart?). We're fooling ourselves if we think that we're all right and "they" are the "sick criminals". We're hypocrites if it's only the scale of what our leaders are doing that separates them from us. That's where the secret government really resides. Not in the endless conspiracies projected onto the rich and powerful (though there's undoubtedly no smoke without flames), but in the unconscious dynamics that support and maintain them in their positions of power – the Jungian shadow in all of us – the evil that we're busy denying, acting out and attempting to spin out of existence both individually and through the lens that is our leadership.

There is enormous difficulty in identifying ourselves with the worst excesses of our governments' behaviours. There is an instinctive rejection of the suggestion that such 'evil' resides within each of us, and in many senses that instinct is sound. 'Evil' is an abstract concept that stands in stark opposition to 'good' and we cannot associate our everyday and mostly well-meaning behaviour with such a polarised horror. Such dualistic judgement isn't helpful here. But look again. The difference between what we and those around us are doing and what our governments are doing is mostly just a matter of degree. The small badnesses we accept as part and parcel of daily life are easy to overlook and live with, which is what we generally do. It's only when they're scaled up to huge proportions that they become plainly 'evil' to us. Yet the small and the large are the same thing in essence, and this is what we need to see in the behaviour of our governments. This is the mirror they hold up for us to look in.

'Evil' is only 'live' back to front, which neatly represents the recipe for its neutralisation. It's the energy of the disowned part of ourselves that comes back to us warped and twisted through the mirror of life. Attraction OR repulsion signals its existence as a personal shadow issue. Accept it simply for what it is; own it directly, consciously, and its reflection loses its power to make us act out. We are then free to consciously choose. THAT is how to truly dsempower it, because only when it's no longer representative of a shadow dynamic within the collective psyche does it cease to have power, and only when we each individually have faced our own shadow issues will we cease to throw up leaders who represent them and magnify them for us.

There's no 'them' and 'us' here. 'Them' and 'us' is part of the problem. We're all in it together.

The last word goes to the great man himself, C G Jung.

April 02 2007 | | | Permalink

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