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Friday links

  • PayPal wants to have a little robo-chat with you. (H/T MJR)
  • This one’s weird. Turns out there could be a correlation — no known causation, but an enormous correlation — between using painkillers and committing homicide. Even ordinary OTC products like ibuprofen (Gotta be some anomaly in that study. Gotta be.)
  • Don’t let the Wookie win when the Wookie is brute superstition.
  • Sacred Rage. “It would be foolish indeed for a government that has lost a string of wars in “backward” foreign lands to think, even with its military and police power and surveillance apparatus, that it could suppress an eruption among a substantial portion of its own well-armed and technologically enfranchised citizenry.” (H/T LS)
  • Congress goes on a vote-a-thon to protect the burgeoning cannabis industry and slap the DEA. (Much though I fear that the sudden fed enthusiasm for Demon Weed is just part of the bread and circuses effort, I still have to say I like and am amazed by it.)
  • Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook. Her husband died a month ago in a freak accident while they were vacationing. She writes: “Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged.”


  1. Pat
    Pat June 5, 2015 5:25 am

    There’s a lot of terminology thrown around in that homicide article, “correlation” being just one of them. “Homicide” being another. I could accept the idea of suicide better than homicide, especially when these studies indicate that so many drugs /suppress/ the emotions. And “homicide risk” is a strange phrase; I’m not sure I understand what that totally encompasses.

    Also the phrase, “the epidemic-level use of pain meds and sedatives.” If these drugs are so carefully monitored (as in Finland) the “epidemic” may come in part from doctors prescribing (or at least recommending) the drugs to be used.

    There’s another factor which is *never* mentioned – either in studies or by doctors when a drug is recommended or prescribed – namely the negative effects of the drugs as they come on the market. Most drugs, even mild or supposedly “innocent” ones (such as Tylenol) have a long list of negatives attached to them, from simple allergy on downward. This list is conveniently ignored when the drug is prescribed, and patients are often NEVER made aware of them until a bad symptom occurs.

    If these studies are anywhere near accurate, it’s not the homicide tendency that should be monitored, but the role of the drug itself. Good effect vs bad effect should always be weighed, preferrably beginning in the lab of the drug company. A drug that acts on only one symptom, yet has a multitude of bad effects on the patient’s mind or body, is not a good drug to trust.

  2. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair June 5, 2015 6:07 am

    Without data about pain-killer use among people who have NOT been convicted of homicide, those numbers are meaningless. They only say that people convicted of homicide are more likely to use pain-killers than some of the other things sampled.

    The 85% number may just mean that 85% of the population uses pain killers. And the article didn’t say whether the survey was about daily use, weekly use, or occasionally use. Most of the first world uses ibuprofen or acetaminophen occasionally.

    I avoid pain killers when possible, but if I can’t sleep because my tooth hurts, I pop a pill until I can see the dentist.

  3. Pat
    Pat June 5, 2015 6:15 am

    OT more or less: Personalized medicine?!

    “That growth is being propelled by, among other forces, the push for personalized medicine, which aims to base treatments on a patient’s DNA profile. Making that a reality will require enormous quantities of data to reveal how particular genetic profiles respond to different treatments.”

  4. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty June 5, 2015 6:18 am

    “Painkillers” cause homicide… Such utter nonsense. I’ve been telling folks for a lot of years just how useless and misleading much such “research” truly is… and this is an extreme example.

    Now, realize that there is no perfect medication, even herbs, and that there ARE all kinds of reactions, both strange and dangerous possible when we eat or drink anything. Did you know that it is actually dangerous to drink too much plain water? Most people are not physically capable of drinking that much, but it can happen. So, we are to fear water now?

    I spent 30 years taking care of patients using all sorts of medications, “drugs” and even food as therapy (diabetics, etc.) and not a single one of the many thousands came even close to being homicidal. But that’s only a small sample of the world population, of course.

  5. Claire
    Claire June 5, 2015 6:27 am

    ML — The study doesn’t claim that painkillers cause homicide. It only observes a correlation.

    Even that may be faulty, of course, especially given that’s it’s such a whoppingly weird correlation. But in any case, nobody is making any claim of causation.

  6. Bear
    Bear June 5, 2015 6:35 am

    Painkillers: Meh. First, the study population was convicted murders. And apparently only convicted murders. Not a good sample group. Second, it speaks of increased risks (i.e.- 2006% increase)– increased over what baseline risk for those not on painkillers? That is, if murderers make up 1 in every 2,000,000 then the drug use might raise the risk to 1 in 1,000,000… if everyone in the population is using. Third, the correlation to alcohol use is so great that everything else barely makes it above the noise floor.

    Fourth, I get cranky when I’m hurting. Good thing I have a high pain threshold.

    If they wanted to run an interesting study, they should try comparing killers who were under the influence to those who weren’t getting their pain meds. Cranky, cranky…

    The study might actually be worthwhile; it’s hard to tell from a lamestream media layman’s write-up. It’s good to know potential side effects, even low risk ones like the violent impulses associated with the Luvox that one of the Columbine killers had taken.

  7. Matt, another
    Matt, another June 5, 2015 8:02 am

    The purpose of the study might be as grist for the mill of human rights suppression. Pain killers lead to an increase in homicide, therefore people on pain killers should not have access to weapons, or should be further surveilled etc.

    It might just be an innocent article about something the researchers noticed, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  8. Claire
    Claire June 5, 2015 8:50 am

    “It might just be an innocent article about something the researchers noticed, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

    That’s my thought. I can’t see any ulterior motive here.

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty June 5, 2015 9:26 am

    “…nobody is making any claim of causation.”

    I know that, Not here, anyway. But causation is usually the next step in the minds of far too many people. In fact, I can’t see any other reason for such a “study.”

    If they didn’t have an “ulterior motive,” why would they even look at it? LOL The government grant money is probably all the motive they needed. But “innocent article?” Not a chance. It’s like the bogus “science” used to relate impossible things to “climate change.”

    Though it is nowhere near as shrill, this is the same sort of propaganda used to frighten people about cannabis. And a lot of other things. It just hasn’t been grabbed by the anti-drug warriors yet.

  10. jed
    jed June 5, 2015 5:22 pm

    I managed to live my life without PayPal for over 40 years. Don’t think it’ll bother me much to give ’em the boot. Arrogant pricks. Too bad there isn’t a better alternative, but competitors seem to come and go, and the ones who survive have so little penetration that they aren’t all that useful. And no, I don’t consider BitCoin to be a viable alternative. Perhaps for some, it is or will be.

    Dwolla seems to have some staying power, but Claire already knows what they’re like. Ugh! Not sure what would be involved in setting up a distributed digital hawala system, but if it could happen, it’d be cool. I suspect that issues of identification and authentication would be the main difficulty.

    My bank does have a method for sending payments directly to people, but I haven’t investigated how it works, as I have yet to have a need for such.

    Wikipedia has a list of online payment services, only a few of which I have heard of – I mean, other than the biggies such as Google and Paypal. Most are unknown in my online experience.

    Meanwhile, somewhat in my backyard: Standoff house in Greenwood Village is “destroyed”. You’d think they could come up with a way to apprehend the perp without doing that.

  11. Shel
    Shel June 5, 2015 8:34 pm

    The Islamic “Wookie” appears to be winning, if he hasn’t already won. Geller is making it because she has people who are protecting her. Without that the radicals are looking at an easy target.

    There was some discussion a few days ago as to whether Islam was monolithic. I don’t believe it is, any more than Christianity is. The big divisions are Sunni and Shi’ite (I’ve been trying to decide which Obama is, based on his treatment of Iran, my guess is Shi’ite). Even among themselves the Sunni have their fraternal squabbles

    The risks to us are greatly intensified by a foreign police seemingly designed to abet the violence

    And then there’s immigration. Sir John Glubb, on p.13 of his excellent treatise The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival noted that a high level of immigration, for multiple reasons, is a common characteristic of the Age of Decadence, the last stage of an empire. Arabic is now the most common language of refugees. Certainly many of these are genuine, but clearly there’s something to hide here Somalis, for example, have shown up in numerous places. And while they may turn out as a group to be wonderful citizens, there is some reason, at least, to have concern. Perhaps some relatively minor (compared to mass terrorism) criminal activity is all we can expect

    Ann Coulter has written on issue of immigration in general and while I haven’t read it, if Thomas Sowell thinks it’s good, I think it’s good Phyllis Schlafly has studied the issue in detail as well

    In reality, we’re just following Sir John Glubb’s description of the pattern of decadence to the letter.

    OT: The lighter (but still odiferous) side of taxation

  12. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 6, 2015 7:46 am

    [The purpose of the study might be as grist for the mill of human rights suppression.]

    All too often that seems to be the purpose of these bullshit studies. Would any modern-day Ministry of Propaganda refrain from making use of studies? I don’t think so.

    Paypay will overstep, and thus leave an opening for competitors. That’s the free market at work… Anyway I just use credit cards for online purchases.

    [The ex-Marine who organized an anti-Muslim rally outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix Friday evening said he’s going into hiding after receiving several death threats.]

    Hmmm, that may be overreaction. I have known people who received death threats (one in particular was running in an election against a conservative Christian, imagine that!). The thing to do is arm oneself, then carry on. The ones who threaten are not the ones to worry about; it’s the ones who give no warning who are worrisome.

    [a high level of immigration, for multiple reasons, is a common characteristic of the Age of Decadence, the last stage of an empire.]

    Hmmm, maybe the thing is to not have an empire. But thanks for that link to Glubb, I am reading it.

  13. LarryA
    LarryA June 6, 2015 9:36 am

    a high level of immigration, for multiple reasons, is a common characteristic of the Age of Decadence, the last stage of an empire.

    Some 17,000,000 immigrants passed through Ellis Island between the time it opened, January 1, 1892, and sixty years later when it closed in 1954. Given U.S. history, that quarter-million immigrants a year wasn’t even remarkable. We’ve been a nation of immigrants since before the Revolution.

  14. Shel
    Shel June 6, 2015 10:57 am

    Yes, but those people received essentially no public assistance and wanted to become Americans. They didn’t bring their culture with them to the exclusion of the culture of their new country and, as far as I know, weren’t really pawns in a divide and conquer political scheme, nor did they harbor any resentment towards the U.S. If you haven’t read Glubb’s take on it, please do, for he explains things very clearly and has no agenda in doing so.

  15. Claire
    Claire June 6, 2015 3:07 pm

    “Yes, but those people received essentially no public assistance and wanted to become Americans.”

    True that they received little public assistance, but as to wanting to be Americans and not bringing their culture with them to the exclusion of the culture of their new country … not so sure.

    Two examples that come immediately to mind were Sicilians who remained clannish for generations and brought Mafia traditions with them and the Irish, who immediately upon arrival formed massive secret societies dedicated to liberating Ireland from the British. Most of the funding for 19th-century Irish republicanism and violent rebellion came from the Irish in the U.S.

    Plenty of people were driven here by economic necessity or war or both and remained emotionally loyal to their homelands. Sometimes America merely gave them enlarged opportunity to work on behalf of whatever country they left behind.

  16. Claire
    Claire June 6, 2015 4:22 pm

    The Irish, of course, while vigorously using their American base to raise funds for rebellion in their (or their parents’) native land and mayhem in England were happily willing to participate in certain hallmarks of American big-city life: corrupt government and brutal policing.

  17. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 6, 2015 7:13 pm

    [Yes, but those people received essentially no public assistance and wanted to become Americans.]

    Maybe because there was no public assistance back then? It’s not that immigrants didn’t get it; it’s that nobody got it.

    Create government welfare programs – don’t be surprised when people take advantage of them. Actually, “legal” immigrants are made to promise not to use such programs, but of course nobody bothers them when they do. Probably wouldn’t stand up in court, anyway.

    Of course immigrants have always stuck with their former countrymen, at least in the first generation. Why shouldn’t they? It’s their business. Their kids learn the language better and aren’t so clannish – assuming they are not excluded from regular society by xenophobes.

  18. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 6, 2015 8:03 pm

    I finished reading that article by Glubb. It is generally worth reading although I think there are some errors due to worldview creeping in here and there, and there are no footnotes. I think he has the basic picture right.

  19. LarryA
    LarryA June 6, 2015 10:33 pm

    Two examples that come immediately to mind were Sicilians … and the Irish…

    Two more examples are the Amish and Hassidic Jews, who still haven’t assimilated.

    Yes, but those people received essentially no public assistance…

    Well, they received little government assistance because, as Paul noted, there was little to be had. But churches and other organizations had privately-funded programs, and neighbors who had immigrated earlier helped as well. Many new residents also followed relatives.

    Lest we forget that all good things don’t flow from Congress and the Legislatures.

  20. Shel
    Shel June 7, 2015 2:40 pm

    While we can talk about the degree of assistance immigrants got and get, in the past none of those groups, as far as I know, came with the intent of extracting payback. La Raza, ISIS, and Al Qaeda didn’t exist (although communists did) and in general immigration law was followed – again as far as I know. While gangs certainly existed, their influence wasn’t on the scale of gangs today, such as MS-13 and Los Zetas, which have some influence in many places. Nor did we have an administration that encourages “children” (started by Bush) to come, a significant number of whom are teen age criminals. And aliens weren’t routinely secretly spirited to various places in the country with the results hidden from Congress. Nor were hardened illegal alien criminals released from jail by the thousands. Just as we sadly can’t take care of all the stray dogs, we can’t continue to accept endless number of immigrants non selectively without serious and permanent consequences. I often think of G. Gordon Liddy’s astute observation concerning the suggestion that the then BATF be abolished and the employees be transferred to other agencies; he remarked that when you pour dirty water into clean water you get dirty water. I would like very much to be wrong here, but all I see is another major stress on a volatile society which could significantly contribute to a “need” for martial law prior to the scheduled 2016 elections.

    Regarding the ex-marine who has gone into hiding, my guess is he was totally unprepared for Old Testament level retribution. The ISIS guys aren’t stupid; in fact they are very sophisticated. Glubb (credit again to MJR who had linked a video that referenced his treatise) talked about unschooled people who come out of nowhere and learn the new technology; it fits. Since ISIS couldn’t kill him immediately, their next best option was threats that would at least dissuade others. My guess, again, is that he was contacted in a number of ways, was promised a beheading to be put on the internet, and that his wife and children – and their children if any are born – will be raped and sodomized and the males killed.

    And I agree completely, Paul, that the way to avoid all this is not to become an empire. In his iconic (that term seems woefully inadequate) Farewell Address, Washington famously warned against foreign entanglements. Pat Buchanan, in his book A Republic, Not an Empire noted that it was during the Spanish-American war that we first started acting like an empire, for we conquered territory we never intended to make a state. He advised that if we were to avoid the bloody consequences all empires suffer, we would need to stop acting like one. The unpleasant reality that the Americans in the commentariat will be forced to face is that we are citizens of a declining empire in its last stages. The ’50’s sure were wonderful, though.

    Coincidentally, another C.M. Kornbluth short story (sent to me by a friend after I emailed him Glubb’s study), complete with suicide bombers, may be worth a look

    OT: Potential TZP fodder

    N.B.: But at least the Irish had a good cause, right Claire?

  21. Claire
    Claire June 7, 2015 3:37 pm

    “OT: Potential TZP fodder

    Great minds:

    “N.B.: But at least the Irish had a good cause, right Claire?”

    The very, very best of causes. 🙂 Still, it’s remarkable how Irish nationalists and republicans used their positions as Americans to further Irish priorities, both in the U.S. and overseas. In the late 19th century, there was a lot of doubt about whether the Irish would ever be able to assimilate. Some were accused of becoming American citizens solely so that when they went back to England or Ireland and started blowing stuff up they’d have the legal protections of U.S. citizenship. And of course everybody “knew” the Irish were nothing but drunken thugs with the intelligence (and appearance) of apes.

  22. Shel
    Shel June 7, 2015 4:39 pm

    In his autobiography, A Plain Tale From the Bogs, Rearden Conner remarked that he had received a lot of grief for not painting the revolutionaries as near saints in his “novel” Shake Hands With the Devil. He said that a number of them were thugs and after the war went to America to work as such.

    By circumstance, a while back I happened to learn about Michael Barrett, as interesting as any, perhaps.

  23. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 8, 2015 6:35 am

    [in general immigration law was followed]

    There mostly wasn’t any such law.

    “The immigration laws in the United States have experienced uneven progress. During colonial times independent colonies created their immigration laws.[2] The first law governing the naturalization of foreigners was the Naturalization Act of 1790. However many years later the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to stop the immigration of Chinese people. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 put a quota on how many immigrants were permitted, based on nationality and previous influx years. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 led to the creation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”

    After 1802 they merely recorded entries, rather than controlling them:
    “The act of 1802 was the last major piece of naturalization legislation during the 19th century.”

    As to criminals, wasn’t Georgia initially a dumping ground for English criminals, much like Australia was for a longer time?

    Of course the US bought into problems with La Raza et. al. with the invasion of Mexico and taking their territory, Texas and California. But then, treat people as individuals and it puts problems in a different light.

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