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When I first heard of the Search and Surveillance Bill, I thought that it only applied to terrorism or something, and I discounted it. Silly me!
I am a fair bit more informed now, the newly passed Bill, extends power to some 70 government agencies, greater than some of the surveillance laws implemented by the with-reason-to-be-paranoid US and UK.
Under the guise of reformatting our older laws, and introducing some new ones for special cases, what the law in fact does is completely re-write what is necessary to spy on someone, and generally invade their privacy. This affects everyone, every citizen. Not only does one not need to be a proven criminal, one only needs to be suspected, and ones relations, friends, contacts etc, all become also vulnerable to the same.
Seventy government agencies, obviously most of them not police or customs, have to power to play “six degrees of separation” to target, search and spy on virtually anyone they wish.
Our currently obviously authoritarian even totalitarian minded right wing government wants to make Labours old nanny state look like a tiny fairy next to a large menacing troll – the government is about to be heavily involved in our private lives, with more power to search and spy in some respects than the FBI. This current government, and its caretakers, it seems, wants to ensure we lose all out rights in order to better serve the State.
I am starting to wish I had actually read 1984.
Between this, Facebook versus the CIA, cell phones tapping our locations and activities, and now government powers to put all that and CCTV, EFTPOS, wire taps, intercepts and the net generally all together without a warrant, proof of guilt or even personal liability of any kind, all just from a Justice of the peace – well it makes all that very real.
Here’s the Bill itself. Makes some scary reading, from the skim I had of it.
I am asking everyone with any sense of their own rights and liberties to raise general awareness of the Bill, and oppose it where possible. It’s the imminent death of personal privacy, in this authors opinion. Write to your MP, the justice MP, or check out these groups opposing the bill:
Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill!
October 15th Solidarity
The Mana party, and the Green party are vocal opponents. Labour also, but less vocal. Get involved, this affects everyone!
The Green party raises some issues with it here.
The Mana party raises some issues, re-posted on the TripMe forum here. Feel free to add to the discussion. Both Parties raise some serious specific issues, so I won't repeat them here.
Now interestingly as a ranty take on the subject of viewing and power, the Panopticon is a building design principle used for building prisons and mental hospitals. It’s also a concept – One eye sees all, and thus gets total and complete control (or with buildings, one place where you can see everyone, but they can’t always see you).
You’ll notice that in these buildings, even in places where you are not visible to the central location, you still “feel” like your being watched, due to the design.
Seriously, now, I can say that we are all being treated like prisoners and not citizens, and not be a total loon, because we are all now in a NZ-global technology driven Panopticon, under this new Bill – the government eye is on all of us really – except on the watchers themselves.
Hey folks. Time for a little news update. Big news for Pot reform is Colorado is running an initiative to regulate cannabis like alcohol. Fingers crossed! Read about that here.
Similarly, California has introduced legalislation to decriminalise possession. Link.
According to a recent study, sleeping pills may be as dangerous to your health as tobacco smoking. Check that out here.
Some crazy teen posted You Tube videos of them smoking weed while driving in “protest” to the NZ drug driving campaign. It’s an amusing read, albeit less than helpful to harm minimisation. Read that here.
Now onto a bit of science and technology related news: A study shows that melting artic ice could lead to colder winters on the northern side of the globe. (Sucks for them!)
They have developed a new game controller – a rope device, for simulating flying a kite, riding a horse, or skipping rope.
IBM improves the performance of their devices for quantum computing. While it may seem slow progress on the outside, it would seem quantum computers are looking more and more inevitable and practical.
New mouse glove offers an alternative to a traditional mouse. This looks pretty interesting I think, especially as it seems like moving on from the mouse control in computing is taking longer than one would expect. Gamers are already using motion capture after all. Nice how this one lets you get away from the desk.
Some immortal worms seem able to defy aging indefinitely. Read bout that here.
I decided that I’d like to summarize some of the rest of the neurotransmitter systems in the brain I haven’t already covered, especially as they relate to substances – a kind of brief basic overview without heavy detail that might hopefully give you some more insights into the workings of the brain.
The opiod receptors are widely distributed in the brain, and there are a variety of endogenous opiods like enkephalins, and endorphins. Opiate receptors are associated with analgesia and reward. There are three main drug related types of opiod receptor, with differing effects: Delta, Kappa & Mu.
The delta receptor is associated with analgesia, and anti-depressive effects. Protopine and Berberine from prickly poppy have suspected delta receptor mediated anti-depressive effects.
The Kappa receptor is associated with analgesia, and disassociative or delirient effects. Salvinorin A from salvia has this action. There is a low level of this action associated with kratom and poppy usage, most likely responsibly for the dream-like hallucinations thereof
The Mu receptor is the one associated with traditional opiate euphoria and dependence, as well as analgesia.
It is thought that alcohol has in indirect effect on the opiate receptors.
Supplements: There is no specific OTC supplement. Just eat a healthy diet with lots of proteins and aminos.
The most studied receptors, associated with consciousness, attention, memory, wakefulness and muscle activation, these receptors can be affected in interesting ways by some differing compounds. There are two main types of receptor, nicotinic and muscarinic.
Nicotinic receptors are stimulated by nicotine, betel nut and acetylcholine. The obvious effects relate to attentional wakefulness and similar. Many other drugs affect acetylcholine levels generally, such as a suppression of the levels by alcohol, or enhancement on MDMA.
Muscarinic receptors are stimulated by choline, and muscarine from the Amanita mushroom (only found in trace amounts). These receptors are comparable to acetylcholine generally, relating to attentional and memory qualities. Delirient drugs block muscarinic action, such as deadly nightshade and datura, and this why consciousness, attention and memory is so altered on these drugs.
Supplements: Lecithin, Choline Bitrate, CDP choline, Citicholine
GABA is largely known as an inhibitory neurocomplex, but it is sometimes excitory. There are three main types of receptor, GABA a, GABA b, and the GHB receptor.
The well known GABA a receptor is stimulated by alcohol and benzodiazepines. It is an inhibitory effect leading to general relaxation and calm.
The GABA b receptor is effected by GBL, GHB and phenibut, but this receptors is thought to be excitory, and thus not the cause of main effects of GHB. The GHB receptor is thus thought to indirectly create the effects of substances like GHB. Alcohol most like has some interaction with this receptor also.
Supplements: Glutamate, Picamilon (GABA does not penetrate the blood brain barrier)
The Glutamate receptors
These receptors are related to memory, learning, and neural regulation. There are two main receptors AMPA, and NMDA. High levels of Glutamate can be neurotoxic, despite this being a central and widespread neurosystem.
Because the effects are excitory, relating to plasticity and learning, many of the interesting effects come from suppressing this system. Interestingly most of the “cetams”, which are memory enhancing drugs, are AMPA enhancers.
Ketamine, DXM, nitrous and PCP exert there effects through NMDA antagonism (suppression). Alcohol at high doses also has this effect on this system.
Of course there are a host of other more minor NT systems, but together with my articles on the cannabinoid, serotonin and dopamine systems, this should help tie together all the major players.
What a small poll tells us...
(And what an ad campaign doesn't)
Drug Driving. Is it a problem? That's the catchphrase of the new Safer Journeys campaign which kicked off in a multimedia flurry that includes a Facebook page and a series of TV adverts featuring actors pretending to be under the influence of various substances and the candid reactions of their passengers. Judging by the comments arriving on the FB wall and at the bottom of news articles the campaigns first goal; to engage the public in the discussion, has had a measure of success. Audience participation can further be gauged by the weekly poll numbers: 84 votes on their opener (Drug Driving. Do you think it's a problem?), up to a staggering 17,000 votes on the second weeks offering (Do you think drugs make you a better driver?), and so far eight and a half thousand respondents to this week’s question (Is it safe to smoke marijuana and drive?).
Those are good numbers and the people generating them should be proud because not only are they broaching an important and complicated issue, but in drug users they're also dealing with a target audience notoriously hard to engage when you're a government agency.
The problem of reaching this group is a long way from being solved however; it is one thing to get the disgruntled ticking boxes and another all together to get them to engage meaningfully which long term is key to modifying behaviour. There's no secret of course that long term, modifying behaviour is what this campaign sets out to do. At the moment the waters are only being tested, but as one capricious FB member points out "government funded campaigns are seldom launched without an endgame in mind."
If there is already a plan we can only hope it's informed by better sources than social media one-liners, but it does beg the question: what's all that social media and air time in aid of? Are we being asked what we think only to mollify our desire for input? The polls in particular seem a terrible waste of data, twenty thousand votes and nothing gained in terms of insight into the issue.
Which is an awful shame because with only fifty votes this poll here gives an interesting peek into the behaviours of New Zealanders who self-identify as being part of the drug taking scene. We can see straight away and with some confidence despite the small sample size that cannabis and its new-fangled imitators tag-team with alcohol as the most common drugs for people to use and then drive. A full two thirds of respondents had at the time of writing indicated they'd driven, or been passenger in a vehicle driven by someone, under their influence. Quite a stunning illustration of the extent of the problem, especially when coupled with the fact that only a fifth of voters had never driven drugged. That's less than have driven under the influence of psychedelics, or prescription sedatives, or amphetamines. It's a lot less than the number of people who have driven on legal or illegal party pills.
So if you're a drug user, driver and internet savvy enough to be on TripMe then you're highly likely to have driven drugged and it's highly likely it was alcohol, cannabis or a synthetic smoking blend that was the intoxicant. Scary stuff, but also interesting, informative and the type of conversation fodder that encourages people to explore the depth of the issue and raise further questions rather than drop a vapid tweet on the issue and move on.
Speaking of further questions, here's a couple of supplementary enquiries for readers to weigh in on:
Hopefully a grand New Year’s Eve was had by all, and the summer festival season is bringing up the joy levels, even if the sun is a tiny bit inconsistent. It’s certainly been awhile since our last news update, so let’s try and catch up a bit.
She originally supposedly was experiencing exhaustion. However, this article suggests perhaps instead: - Demi Moore overdid the whippets?
It’s from the US, but it’s an interesting article. A US cop derides war on drugs, talks about how he hates that part of his job. I wonder how many cops generally feel this way?
Here’s a poorly reasoned herald article, full of misinformation, such as ludicrous claims that marijuana causes cancer (when in fact it appears to be anti-cancer if anything). It calls for NZ government to legalize pot purely for profit reasons. Which on its own may be sound reasoning, apart from the guff that surrounds it. Overall, not the most enlightened read, but insightful to some peoples misguided POV. Here's the article.
Here's a good article on the cliché’s and illogical arguments for prohibition, using a real argument, this article breaks down all the fallacies inherent in the standard spiel. Read that here.
Nz’ers and Aussies are the biggest stoners. No real surprise there, but my own experience suggests that Aussies might “win” out on that one.
Okay, a little science news now. The first quantum jiggles are detected in a solid object, rather than in a particle. Read that here.
Here’s some fun imagining and details about the moon Titan. Its a pretty trippy place.
A new algorithm for generating trees automatically generates trees that sway in the wind, without individually creating each tree. This should lead to much more realism in their graphics. Read about that here.
Newt 'Light-year' Gingrich promises moon base by 2020. As much as I don’t like right wing politicians, this would be interesting to watch, if he did get in. Find out about that here.
Well tripme neophytes, wizards and troglydytes, its time for a little bit of a long overdue news update. Just some very random bits and bobs.
I’ve often mentioned how I think hacking is a new and emerging war front, that hacks for intelligence, government and supply and industrial complexes are a new way to attack the strength and morale of your enemy. It’s becoming more common, and theres recently been a hack attempt on Israel’s army and intelligence services. Read about that here.
Gamers are always dreaming of new interfaces. Me too. I don’t know if this is that inspiring, but it’s something I hadn’t thought of: Nintendo would seem to be adding a touchpad type interface to its controller, with a traditional pad type interface.
I am not going to explain this one, the title is way too cool. Green tea and red laser attack Alzheimer's plaques.
They have developed a probe that travels into your body to detect clots. Read that here.
“Scientists in the US now claim that products sweetened with sugar are as addictive as cocaine or nicotine.” -Something I knew from previous research, its very well founded in research, that sugar is probably even more addictive than cocaine. Read about the latest in the ongoing "sugar is an addictive drug story" here.
“A modern art installation valued at 800,000 ($1.1 million) was damaged after an overzealous cleaning woman scrubbed away a patina intended to look like a dried rain puddle” – More in the article here.
“According to Captain Harold Thomas, officers knocked on the door of a house and Nicholas Modrich answered the door naked. Thomas said Modrich and Jamie Hughes, both 25, told officers had taken LSD and had given some to their dog Oscar, who was missing. Officers began to search for Oscar, but learned he had been hit by a car on a nearby road.” – Poor dog, interesting story though. Read it here.
I’ve been reading a little about this recently, so I thought Id share my thoughts here. There is a lot of debate about the identity of this now unknown old world plant, which was highly regarded and used in a variety of cultures. It is praised in the Rig Veda, of Hinduism, and the Avesta, of Zoroastrianism. It was used also by the Romans for increasing bonding between soldiers, and due to these long and related traditions, it seems the use of Soma may go all the way back to the very beginning of golden civilisation – even perhaps, be a cause of golden civilisation, as you may see when we look at the nature of Soma. Of course, it may appear elsewhere under other names.
Modern people often regard Soma as the Amanita mushroom. While this is a significant plant indeed, there is a lot of reason, I think, to suspect this is the wrong ID, as I will elaborate on a little. Rather than propose specific plants, I am just going to look more closely at the actual subjective effects and qualities of the experience and speculate about that – something dry academics will be unable to do.
First what does the Soma do for you, and what does it feel like? Well we get a very intensive description in the Rig Veda. Here’s some select quotes:
“Gracious, displaying tender love, unconquered, gentle in thy thoughts,
Be sweet, O Soma, to our heart.
O Soma, terrify us not; strike us not with alarm, O King:
Wound not our heart with dazzling flame.”
“Fiend-queller, Friend of all men”
“Be thou best Vṛtra-slayer, best granter of bliss, most liberal:
Promote our wealthy princes' gifts.
Flow onward with thy juice unto the banquet of the Mighty Gods:
Flow hither for our strength and fame.”
“We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?”
“Win skilful strength and mental power. O Soma, drive away our foes;
And make us better than we are.”
Okay, so here we are getting into the heart of what the ancient texts are telling us about the substance. It possesses a loving, tender quality, imbues mental strength and power, makes one immune to malice, and can also reveal personal weaknesses. It is ritualistically and symbolic linked to light, and cleansing.
However, despite many psychoactive proponents suggesting Soma is a psychedelic, much of the Veda decribes how the soma actually enhances memory, attention and other features of very rooted “normal” conciousness.
So instead of being impaired while consuming Soma, the drinkers were in fact less impaired than sober people (or well however that should be said!). That can hardly be said for consumers of the Amanita mushroom! (Who are downright out of it)
So, what makes you loving, strong, clear-headed and can also reveal weaknesses? Sounds a lot to me, like a non-euphoric mood substance or tonic, rather than what is a psychedelic or even euphoric agent. A far more subtle teacher it seems, and far more powerful too.
In fact, it sounds like something modern people known little or nothing about at all, in theory or practice, something we would probably niavely class more like as an “anti-depressant”, or “smart drug”, or something else inappropriate to its psychoaction.
What’s more, the seeming discovery of this compound, around the birthplace of golden civilization (physically and temporally - its described as being abundant in this region, and only a common cultural root would explain its use being so widely culturally distributed), that makes one loving, strong, and clear-headed – it could be reason to suspect the civilisation of man, came about because of the ingestion of this “civilizing” plant!
Think about that, it makes a lot of sense: What brought everyone together in trust and not violence en mass, where before it had never occured?
It seems that this unknown substance, that does not alter the perceptions, but has potentially amazing mental properties, even as a “medicine”, may have even influenced early culture, yet, reading the vivid descriptions, we still missing the magic of how something like that would even work in the brain, let alone knowing any substance with these properties…
Reading this text, in this light, is almost like something from the perspective of some Alien beings. So vastly spaced from modern thought..
For anyone investigating the Soma story, I highly recommend reading the original sources (the best is the Veda) rather than secondary texts by academics, religious people and speculators (like myself!). Having done so myself, most of the suggested possibilities seem quite absurd next to the texts, especially the notion that it is Agaric mushroom, or even, as religious scholars suggest, its merely a symbol, or ephedra (a mild stimulant). None of these plants remotely resemble the described effects.
Of course it’s rather ironic that the patent for the name “Soma” is now used for a mental fog producing sleep agent!
There’s a compelling academic case for both of these sacraments being drugs, when we look at the Bible.
Let’s look first at the anointing oil described in the bible as most holy – that which gives Christ his name meaning “the anointed one”. This was a high purification ritual, the cleansing with Chrism, more fundamental than baptism, or communion – in fact, a requirement for being considered a true follower. The anointing oil basically consists of plants extracted into oil, and then soaked liberally onto the “anointed”.
What was original translated as “fragrant cane” or “Spice cane”, in fact looks more likely to refer to the fragrant flowering tops of cannabis – what is nowadays referred to as the “buds”– something even some bible scholars and Judaic experts are now willing to admit. The recipe for the sacred anointing oil is in Exodus, along with some information about its use. While it’s a little long for a quote, it gives real context to the sacred oil.
Read more HERE....
Here’s a bit of a short news update, since it’s been awhile since one.
Amy Winehouse is dead. Drugs or alcohol are suspected to be involved, but it’s Amy Winehouse so they would be anyway. I guess we will see. Shame.
It’s long been thought that LSD could offer a long term treatment for cluster headaches, and it has been the basis of several drugs to designed to do that. A non-hallucinogenic analogue has been recently shown to do just this.
A rise in usage of Phenazapam in the UK leads to this confused article (worth a chuckle – “Benzo Fury” is in fact APB not benzo's).
More hints of the ‘Higgs boson’ at the Large Hadron Collider. Question is how long will it take them to decipher any meaning behind their results, let alone what a Higgs really means.
IBM are working on a technology to actively sense a person’s keyboard style on a touch screen so the keyboard can adapt to the person.
And also in the touch screen department, but far more exciting – they have developed a technology that can provide dynamic dips and bumps on a touchscreen, even push your fingers, using oscillations on a sheet of glass – so you can get touch feedback. Wicked!
They have detected a black hole and quasar with water vapours surrounding it, greater in mass than our earth’s water by many times. Read that here.
A theory that implies the big bang followed a big crunch in a cyclic universe (An idea which has even gathered some evidence, a measurable radiation from before the bang) – is explained here by a theory involving anti-matter and matter conversions.
A trance state is one of focused relaxation. No, not the lazers and hands in the air sort of trance, although thats related. It’s common enough, you experience it when engrossed in TV, or driving a familiar route. But it’s also the focus of a lot of cultural and spiritual ceremony, and used for medical and psychological reasons in hypnotherapy. The mysteries of dreams, the subconscious, the trance states, and the drug altered states have mystified and awed every generation of humanity since it’s beginning. Entering into a trance state is one of the easiest and most practical means of reaching these unconscious levels of awareness. Fortunately, unlike on the TV show fringe, it’s not just a matter of someone flashing special red and green lights at you – it’s something that is entirely voluntary and controlled.
There are many things used as a “driver” for achieving trance states. They are tools to help achieve the trance state, although it is perfectly achievable naturally without technique. The alpha brain wave occurs between ordinary consciousness and sleeping. Visual methods of driving, range from mandala’s to light machines and strobes. Sound can be used, such as drumming, or certain sounds like white noise, or binaural beats. Sound achieves this effect by a process called entrainment, which is where the brain waves seek to match the sound waves heard. Electronic music, like trance music, also can create these effects.
Physical movement can also help produce trance. Dancing is one such method – and many people who dance long hours to electronic music report trance effects, essentially this is a modern form of shamanic dancing. Walking meditation, yoga, tai chi and juggling are other movement-based methods.
Read more HERE.
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