Monday, July 30, 2007

Screencap Evidence That ESPN Does, In Fact, Suck

The self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" has become as painful as gout over the last few years and there are a ton of reasons why. Just a few examples: the idiotic, insulting "Who's Now" promotion. The insistence on foisting sassy "personalities" and contrived debate upon an unsuspecting public. Skip Bayless. Jay Mariotti. Woody Paige. Stuart Scott. Stephen A. Smith. Schrutebag. And don't forget the annoying ESPN Motion player that officiously launches itself whenever is loaded. That's all terrible, true. But what really pissed me off yesterday was unabashed self-promotion.

Here is a screencap from last evening:

And here is a screencap of from the same time:

Seems the networks differ on the day's major stories, no? ESPN put NASCAR and arena football front and center on its page - thereby dictating the newsworthiness of these events to the audience. But it goes unmentioned that ABC/ESPN are broadcast partners with NASCAR and part owners of the Arena Football League. Which is why you see NASCAR and arena football - arena football! - splashed all over The network is trying to create fan interest, not reflect it.

But who cares, right? It's about creating buzz! It's about cross-promotion! It's about synergy, motherfuckers!

(I'm not saying Fox Sports is above such shenanigans; only that even I'm surprised by how brazen ESPN's become about it.)

I hereby propose a new acronym for ESPN:


[See what I did there?]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

21st Century Reefer Madness! Marijuana May Increase Psychosis Risk! This Conclusion Is Total Bullshit!

Time to call bullshit!

Marijuana may increase psychosis risk, analysis says

LONDON, England (AP) -- Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic, researchers report in an analysis of past research that reignites the issue of whether pot is dangerous.
The new review suggests that even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent.

Doctors have long suspected a connection and say the latest findings underline the need to highlight marijuana's long-term risks. The research, paid for by the British Health Department, is being published Friday in medical journal The Lancet. [READ THE REST]

Sounds compelling, right? But wait - this research was paid for by the British Health Department - a government body with a vested interest in propping up the state's policy of prohibition. The needles of my bullshit detector are starting to twitch...

The researchers said they couldn't prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis, a category of several disorders with schizophrenia being the most commonly known.

There could be something else about marijuana users, "like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses," Zammit said.

So, correlation is not causation? Thanks, professor. What else ya got?

Dr. Wilson Compton, a senior scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse [emphasis added] in Washington, called the study persuasive.

"The strongest case is that there are consistencies across all of the studies," and that the link was seen only with psychoses -- not anxiety, depression or other mental health problems, he said.

Scientists cannot rule out that pre-existing conditions could have led to both marijuana use and later psychoses, he added.

So, people with pre-existing conditions may self-medicate with substances like alcohol and marijuana? You don't say. But wait, it gets better:

Two of the authors of the study were invited experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis Review in 2005. Several authors reported being paid to attend drug company-sponsored meetings related to marijuana, and one received consulting fees from companies that make antipsychotic medications.

In other words, these guys are firmly in the pockets of governments and their paymasters in the pharmaceutical industry. Who else benefits from the demonization and prohibition of marijuana? Cui bono?

At least The LA Times report on the study closed on a skeptical note:

Dr. Victor Reus, a psychiatrist at UC San Francisco who was not involved in this study, said he was unconvinced by Zammit's conclusions for both psychotic and mood disorders.

Too many outside factors contribute to the disorders, and the studies Zammit used were too vague to draw hard conclusions, he said.

"There's a limit to what you can do with the data that's in these studies," he said.

Thank you, Dr. Reus. Every time a new study comes out linking marijuana to something bad, you can pretty much disregard it. Seriously. Because it is, inevitably, junk science. These kept "scientists" are actually distorting science in the service of political and pharmaceutical interests, and it's despicable.

If a study is funded or commissioned by a governmental body or the pharmaceutical industry, recalibrate your bullshit detectors, and remember that cannabis has been safely used by humans for literally thousands of years.

[h/t to FARK]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

49% of the American Public: Dangerously Misguided

Someone please explain this country's weird militarism fetish:

49% - Say Military Strength Ensures Peace

Only about half of Americans (49%) now say they think that maintaining military strength is the best way to ensure peace - the lowest percentage in the 20-year history of Pew values surveys and down sharply from the 62% who said so in the summer of 2002, less than a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. [READ THE REST]

Orwell would be appalled (though hardly surprised). Nearly half of Americans actually believe War is Peace. Incredible.

And what would the Founders think? Thomas Jefferson -- the principal author of the Declaration of Independence -- was vehemently opposed to standing armies:

  • "I do not like [in the new Federal Constitution] the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for... protection against standing armies." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:387

  • "Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people's] freedom and subversive of their quiet." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Lord North's Proposition, 1775. Papers 1:231

  • "The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." --Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807. ME 11:160

[h/t to FARK]

UPDATE: Don't miss Justin Raimondo's amazing new piece on militarism as neocon religion (h/t to LRC).

Friday, July 20, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Been quiet here at DIM lately, and for good reason: I've been trotting the globe like Marco Polo for the last three weeks.

The itinerary included:
  • Eight days in London (6/29 - 7/7)
  • A very brief weekend in south Florida (7/13 - 7/15)
  • A four day excursion to lovely Seattle-Tacoma for work (7/16 - 7/19)
Here's a little photoblogging for your Friday work timewasting activities:

Look, kids! Big Ben! Parliament! And some fat bald guy ruining the view.

My adorable niece Olivia hams it up for the camera at Tra's mom's 60th birthday party. My own expression was remarkably similar after the 2nd mojito.

The view from my room at The MarQueen Hotel. Note the gray sky, which lends authenticity to the stereotypical Seattle tableau.

Good times were had by all. Details and more photos to come, and of course more bile shall soon flow over these pages!