Groucho Marx

Blog Archive – September 2005

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" In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. "
Eric Hoffer

" All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of nature, but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor. "
Bhagavad Gita

September 26 2005

Berry bug update

The cat's clear of his berry bugs and their lesions again and much the happier for it. The weather's turned wet and windy, right on the nose for Richard Nolle's 2005 predictions, so he may not be challenged again for a while, at least not until after the window of the October 3rd solar eclipse at 10 Libra has closed around October 10th.

Interesting ... Nolle also pegged Katrina's genesis (this written in December 2004): "Last among this year's SuperMoon alignments is the full moon at 27 Aquarius on August 19, the Moon's third closest approach to Earth in 2005. Like its July 21st predecessor, this SuperMoon occurs during a Mercury intersolar cycle – in an especially sensitive spot in fact, within just a few days of Mercury's direct station on the 16th. So once again, the infrastructure of information, commerce and electrical connections is susceptible to disruption owing to natural calamities. What kind of natural calamities? The usual SuperMoon suspects: powerful storms with heavy precipitation and destructive winds, tidal flooding along the coasts, inland flooding and mudslides due to the aforementioned precipitation [...] The planetary scope of the SuperMoon situation notwithstanding, astro-locality suggests a few zones which may be at special risk from tides, storms and seismic activity during the August 16-22 period. Among these is a longitudinal arc running through Ontario, the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Valley, into the Gulf of Mexico and across the Yucutan Peninsula into Central America, and on through the South Pacific." Katrina began as Tropical Depression Twelve, forming over the southeastern Bahamas on August 22-23.

Nolle has an extremely impressive track record (he nailed last December's tsunami too, not to mention the early January extreme weather that saw the river that's normally almost a half mile from my house come to within 6 feet of my front door). And neither do his predictions cost billions of dollars to put into place as an early warning system. What could be more scientific than a theory which, when tested against future outcomes, proves repeatedly accurate? Sometimes the tendency of mankind to cling to its ridiculous prejudices about the world in the face of the blindingly obvious seems altogether too silly for words ...

September 26 2005 | | | Permalink

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" I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would be such as oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. "
Leo Tolstoy

" We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us. "
Rabindranath Tagore

" Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. "
Winston Churchill

September 22 2005

Lancet lanced!

The UK Society of Homeopaths have now published their critique of last month's much-publicised Lancet meta-analysis (Shang et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Lancet 2005;366 (9487):726-733) purporting to be the "final word" on the validity of homeopathy as a "real" therapeutic intervention. (See also last month's blog and Myths and Misconceptions.)

It makes for interesting reading. For instance:

"The authors went to the great trouble of selecting 110 homeopathy trials that met their inclusion criteria, matching them with 110 allopathy trials and then ignored all but 8 trials of homeopathy and 6 of allopathy in their final statistical analysis. Moreover the original stated intention to compare trials of similar condition and outcome has been ignored in the final analysis. The final small subset of trials is not matched at all suggesting that different kinds of trials are being compared, apples are being compared with oranges – a common failing in meta-analyses."

Apparently the quality of the study has been roundly condemned in conventional, as well as homeopathic circles. Mikel Aickin PhD, Research Professor at the University of Arizona commented: “The Lancet article appears to be part of a recent trend, in which medical journals are publishing articles of exceedingly low quality to justify attacks on controversial therapies.”

Could there possibly have been some bias in the study? The Lancet’s Senior Editor, Zoë Mullan, admitted, “Prof Eggers stated at the outset that he expected to find that homeopathy had no effect other than that of placebo. His “conflict” was therefore transparent. We saw this as sufficient”. That such a study passed the peer-review process is rather telling. With standards like that, who needs science?

And do you reckon this side of the story will make it to prime-time television news and a prominent position in the national daily newspapers like the initial publication did? You bet your bottom dollar it won't. Seems hard to avoid some fairly cynical conclusions about the agenda from the outset ...

September 22 2005 | | | Permalink

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September 19 2005

Berried alive!

After having fully recovered all his bounce and zing and appetite for life, the cat was scratching his ears again Saturday night. Couldn't see evidence of anything, but it was obvious something was bothering him and he wasn't happy about having his ears examined again. Finally found a small area of irritation after quite some looking. Berry bugs again. However, nothing like the extent of the reaction to them he had before the Ledum, which was why they were so hard to find.

We have re-dosed with the Ledum. The initial dosing lasted 2 weeks, so we'll be noting how long this one keeps him in the clear.

September 19 2005 | | | Permalink

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New Orleans under flood waters

New Orleans under flood waters

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated ...
As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness ...
No man is an island, entire of itself every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee. "
John Donne

" 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

September 13 2005

Wholly human

Have just caught up with the widely circulated account of the experiences of Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two paramedics attending a conference in New Orleans at the time Katrina hit.

Some pertinent excerpts:

"By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

"We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

[...]

"As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

"We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans."

[...]

"From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

"Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

"Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups."

What this account exposes seems absolutely key to the wider events unfolding in the US and Europe. It reveals the extent to which our precious "civilisation" is just the thinnest of veneers. Nothing more than a mask. It reveals the terror of those with power when faced with the disempowered appearing to flex their muscles, when all they're doing is doing what they have to to survive. And it reveals the ridiculous extent of mankind's hubris in imagining that a natural event of such magnitude should be something that someone somewhere should have "under control".

This is something that no amount of resignations, inquiries, finger-wagging and blame-laying is going to address because it's endemic in western society and is an inevitable consequence of a mindset that regards itself as superior to nature and to other races or classes of human being. And this isn't just a matter for the likes of Barbara Bush, it's a matter for each and every one of us. For as long as any of us at any time is convinced that we know better than nature, that we know better than another person what's good for them, that we're right and another is wrong, that people from other races or classes are somehow lesser human beings than we are, then we get a society that reflects all that back at us writ large. The ultimate expression of such attitudes is wholesale genocide, which is something that's been played out with disgusting frequency over the years on peoples that frequently have a far greater heart-felt understanding of civilised behaviour than we do ... which is partly why they get stamped out. It's our society that is savage and barbaric. Thoughout our colonisation of the world, we have never adequately appreciated the societies we came across. What we mostly saw in them was our own reflections. And now, in the murky waters of New Orleans, we see those same reflections staring back at us yet again.

This mindset has prevailed for centuries and has now been imposed on most of the world. If things are ever going to change for the better, then as far as I can see it's our thinking that we have to overturn. Everything else flows from there.

This is why we should hold onto our civil liberties at all costs – to that thin veneer that gives us at least some illusion of civility. If the panic-driven shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in London didn't make it clear enough, then the events in New Orleans should. Personally I'd far rather take my chances with the looters and the terrorists than I would with twitchy and armed law enforcement that sees everyone as a potential threat, and is so obsessed with control that it's blind to human need and a response that's appropriate to the circumstances.

Is it any wonder we have such disasters when we ignore the lessons from nature? Is it any wonder that people resort to looting and shooting police if they're being denied help and prevented from obtaining the most basic needs for survival? Is it any wonder that we're the target of terrorists when our foreign policies are neither respectful nor ethical? Mirrors do reflect. Chickens do come home to roost.

September 13 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ We are a part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow. ”
Spinoza, Ethics 1673

Hurricane Katrina, August 29 2005 8:20am EDT

Hurricane Katrina, August 29 2005 8:20am EDT, just before landfall

“ Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. ”
Chief Seattle

September 07 2005

Holy hurricane

I know I'm not the only one that Katrina has got stirred up into a holy hurricane, but that's certainly how I'm feeling right now. The name Katrina means 'holy'. But anyone who thinks that implies some kind of divine vengeance has missed the whole meaning of the word 'holy'. Same root as 'whole'. That means the whole. Not any part of it (like God) vs any other part of it (like man). Something that is holy is therefore of the whole. And the whole is acting for the good of the whole. Mother Earth is cleansing herself of the species that behaves as if it's separate from the whole. Our behaviour has become too parasitic to be tolerated by the organism of which we are part and on which we depend.

It seems hard to avoid feelings of deep disgust at the manner in which the Bush administration have apparently responsed to the crisis in New Orleans as The Big Easy fast becomes The Big Diseasey (thanks, Mark Krueger, for that one). The concern about cracking down on looters seems, if anything, slightly more pressing than coming to the aid of the people affected by the hurricane. Interesting, that. Such things inevitably reveal the shadow dynamics at play in the psyche. Bluntly, it evidences the shadow looters lurking in the seat of government. You know the ones I mean – those zeros fiddling the expenses while home burns.

It's as if the hurricane has ripped into America's underbelly and exposed the rot from the guts to the heart, and by extension, the rot in the heart of all societies buying into the greed and exploitation brandname (which is getting to be pretty much most of the world these days). That there is rot in America's heart is inevitable perhaps, considering how the country was founded – through the systematic theft of an entire continent and the annihilation of its indigenous peoples in a way that makes Hitler look like a pussy cat.

And lest we in Europe are tempted to feel smug, don't forget where it started, or all the other nations whose land has been stolen and peoples destroyed. All in the name of greed and delusions of overweening superiority we think gives us the right to march into other countries and tell them how to live their lives. Step outside of that way of thinking for a minute, and the pomposity and arrogance of it seem almost unbelievable. Yet we're so accustomed to it we don't even see the extent to which pervades our societies. Have we really abolished slavery? Or has it simply taken another form?

A dream last night in which there was a very clear message. Huge natural forces like the tsunami and Katrina will continue until humankind realises that the ground rules have changed and adapts accordingly. The rules HAVE changed, whether humankind wants to acknowledge it or not, and there's nothing we can do about it. Mother Earth IS cleansing herself, not the future tense implied by 'will'. An indication that the Philippines is possibly next.

September 07 2005 | | | Permalink

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Trombicula autumnalis

September 06 2005

Ledum on!

A result! The cat's lesions have all healed and he doesn't appear to have picked up any new berry bugs – all this while the weather has been as good as it's been all summer, hot weather evidently favouring mite activity. His ears look the best they've done for a couple of months. He's not scratching so much and doesn't object to his ears being examined any more either.

The specifics? Ledum palustre 30C. One tablet dissolved in water and given by dropper. A dropper-full in the evening, repeated the next morning, and again 3 days later.

September 06 2005 | | | Permalink

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Trombicula autumnalis

“ Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito. ”
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

September 01 2005

Berry picking

The cat has berry bugs. Not something our previous cat was susceptible to, or any other cat I've ever had, so I've had to go learn all about them. Trombicula autumnalis, aka harvest mites or bracken bugs (related to the N American chiggers), are tiny little orange mites which appear to be particularly prevalent between the rivers Tay and Tweed in the Lowlands and Borders of Scotland.

It's the larval stage of the mites that are troublesome and they appear in the summer through to autumn, latching onto any warm-blooded animal as it moves through the vegetation. The larvae feed on the lymph and skin (not blood), secreting an enzyme which pre-digests the tissues before being sucked up by the larva. Favoured sites are where the skin is thin and tender – folds of skin behind ears, in the groin, and between the toes of paws, or in humans where clothing fits tightly around the body such as sock lines and waistlines. Intensely itchy bumps, blisters and scabby lesions form in reaction to the mites' digestive enzymes, exacerbated by scratching which may lead to secondary infection.

What the cat thinks of his berry bugs

What the cat thinks of his berry bugs?

Veterinary science seems to be at a bit of a loss when it comes to treating them. Various organophosphate or permethrin insecticidal preparations (should you want to use them) kill the mites once they've attached. Tea tree oil (diluted) has also been useful in getting rid of them, but since the main damage is done when the mites first latch on, the problem is to find something that will make the animal unattractive as a host or reduce its susceptibility to reacting to them.

This is exactly the sort of situation in which homeopathy excels. So the search for the most effective remedy begins. Since the cat has had a gradually increasing problem with the mites for a couple of months now through good weather and bad, any change should be readily discernible. I've started him on a dose of Ledum. Watch this space to see how he gets on.

Anyone else had any success treating animals (or humans) for these parasites?

September 01 2005 | | | Permalink

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smeddum.net – Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard