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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fishy Business

The article in the link below relates to something that many people have suspected. It is that if a new technique is discovered and applied to too many things too quickly then what can happen can be unpredictable. This is about nanoparticles and their impact on the brains of fish.

This might seem a distance away from humans but we do not know that. We do know that it is possible to take out and examine a large number of fish brains but as we cannot do that easily with humans exact comparisons are difficult.

At the moment it is becoming evident that many humans urged on the makers and those who market them are effectively sandblasting their bodies and to some extent their brains with a wide array of chemicals.

A number of those already give cause for disquiet about their long terms effects. But as more and more are subject to nanotechnology to increase impact from reduced quantities of active substances then the effect is likely greater. The cost advantages are one reason for this.

As my two theses are firstly that anything that goes up the nose can affect the brain and that the blood circulates there are problems. One is that the makers deny that the first can be proven and the second that the blood might circulate but the substances they use by some miracle of science do not to any effect.

We shall see but it will not be a happy business.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gulf War Syndrome

Gulf War Syndrome, the issue of many former soldiers and others who took part in the various major military engagements in the Gulf in the last twenty years has been a source of serious debate.

The governments involved at first preferred to suggest that it was either a purely temporary mental condition or the difficulties that the troops had was down to later or other causes.

There is a great deal on the web on this issue and the American Veterans have had a lot say. In the UK there has been the usual shifty evasions and lack of interest by politicians in this issue, encouraged by the financial interests that so many have in Defence contractors of one sort or another.

Here are a few links below which indicate that at last there is beginning to be some proof of the major features of the problem. Much of this is due to advances in medical research and techniques.

Quite simply nearly all the troops had a series of major injections in a very short period. Then in the course of action there was a major battery of chemical effects on the body and brain.

Some were better able to withstand this, but some were not. The reasons for this are complex and to do with the differences in the genes in body biochemistry.

But when one looks today in ordinary life and sees the range of medical interventions, notably in the young and the huge array of strong chemicals now routine in home and the environment people are going to be affected.

If GWS is any guide it will not be predictable as to what effect or the extent or the proportion who are more badly affected.

But it will be there and it is growing.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Followers Of Fashion

Quite when “fashion” began is hard to tell. Perhaps when a female hominid a million years ago decided to put some flowers together and put them in her hair or round her neck. Perhaps it was a male who enjoyed painting his face to frighten the neighbours.

As soon as others began to copy then it all began especially when one adornment or means of covering the anatomy came to be replaced by others. Doubtless there was soon a hierarchy when those who wore the skins of major or ferocious beasts looked down on those clothed by squirrels or rats.

Fashion almost always comes at a cost. To be a beaver when beaver pelts became the must have thing for some river dwellers was not good news. The ladies of the highest classes who used white lead to paint their faces in the 18th Century paid a terrible price for keeping up with the peer group.

The link below is just another step along a well trodden and usually dirty highway. There is nothing new in toxic products used in clothing, the mad hatters of Luton knew all too well what could happen.

The trouble now is that the globalization of clothing production and the ratcheting up of the marketing and media campaigns to increase turnover and encourage a throwaway short term fashion centred consumer society is now costing us all a great deal.

And we don’t know the real price we are paying.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Paying Attention

A couple of articles taken together here dealing with pesticides and with attention disorders in children. I suspect that we have little idea of the effect of chemical impact on the brain in developing children and what the effect it might have.

The first link related to the issue of inattention as another issue from hyper activity. The two may be related but this is not necessary.

The second link deals specifically with the pesticide issue. This is a useful one because the chemistry and distribution of pesticides are relatively a known and can be more easily identified than other contaminants.

Looking back it is clear these days that children are subject to a much greater battery of chemical intervention and content in their environment, the air they breathe, the food they eat and in many other ways.

If these affect other parts of the body one way or another then there must be some sort of effect on the brain.

Monday, 5 September 2011

What Next?

The doom mongers have been busy recently. Inevitably as the supply has risen doom has become a cheaper commodity. For some obscure reason most people are not increasing their demand for doom, so there are a lot of cut price versions about. There does seem to be an increase in the demand for things that get you high and happy but this is simply increases the basic resources to feed the supply of doom.

The BP business and the political fall out have attracted a good deal of attention. One aspect of the blow out has been suggestions that a lot of methane has been leaking out into the Gulf as well as the oil. Some scientists have claimed that in the distant past there have been two occasions when major methane emissions have all but ended life on earth.

The late Auberon Waugh had a theory that the methane emitted from the rear end of cattle was a major source of world pollution. But the scientists suggest that large methane bursts of up to twenty miles wide would be enough. If the deep sea drillers going down into tricky geology do not really know what they are going to find, they could trigger one. It means we can stop worrying about Iceland; at least for a week or two.

But radical and rapid change can occur in our arrangements without us noticing or paying much attention to what is happening around us. Back in the early 1950’s I was put on standby to go to Southampton docks where a strike was impacting on food imports. Luckily, a flu epidemic happened which stopped that and also the strike because dockers on strike did not get sick pay. Then dock strikes for many reasons were a feature of the UK economy and politics.

Late in the 1950’s I was at a meeting with Jack Dash, a leader in the Dock unions, who became a major figure and was reviled by the media. In a meeting away from notice he was a decent sort of bloke, very much a worker and a believing communist who was thoughtful and well read. I thought he was badly wrong but that how to organise and deploy large numbers of manual workers when work on the docks was variable both in nature and from week to week was a difficult business.

What none of us at the meeting and for that matter in government and the economy realised and could not see was that the old ways were about to end. The change would not simply affect the docks but the whole structure of transporting and distributing goods. The effects would be world wide and impact on whole economies.

There had been a number of different ways of carrying goods by some form of container in the past, but only small scale and often localised. In 1956 Malcolm McLean of the USA began to use an altogether better and more worked out method for doing it on ocean going ships. By 1970 international agreements on the standardisation of containers meant that the concept had become world wide.

In the 1970’s I realised it by accident. On a number of occasions I travelled from Hull to Europort in Rotterdam, also from Felixstowe to Zeebrugge and a couple of other North Sea routes. For anyone with half an eye and a bit of experience it was easy to see how transportation had changed. What took longer to dawn on me were the wider implications for the UK and the world.

Clearly the old British system of docks and distribution was doomed as were the jobs of the dock workers and the whole complicated structure of company and union ways of negotiation and doing anything. It was going to mean radical, rapid change and extensive upheaval and investment.

This happened, yet few of the general public noticed. Except for a few wild eyed off the wall eccentric forecasters that nobody with any sense or influence would listen to. I was aware that things had to change, but in my innocence felt that this could be done within the present structures and would assist existing commerce and industry. The relentless stupidity of managements, politicians, and unions was something I did not foresee.

This can apply in science as well. When Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in Western Australia, far from main stream science, came up with the thesis that the bacteria Helicobactor Pylori was a major factor in causing ulcers and severe gastric problems they transformed a major area of medical treatment and saved millions from decades of pain and misery. It also meant a large number of surgeons had to find other kinds of work and hospitals reorganised. They knew that they might change things but not the extent of the impact.

So what is going on out there now that has already started and will gather strength and impact in the coming decade? What is it that could change all our lives and we will not see it until it is too late and we will make an unholy mess of the period of transition? It could be none of the things that lead the current fashions of change prediction or of impending doom.

It could be something quite simple and not noticed; someone or something we have never heard of and take no account of. Then when it happens we might wonder what has hit us and why. For anyone adversely affected the issue will be who to blame and how to prevent the inevitable.

It could be nice or it could be nasty. I will return to this in 2020.