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Open mike 10/08/2010

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, August 10th, 2010 - 33 comments
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33 comments on “Open mike 10/08/2010”

  1. Bored 1

    Beautiful new term from Kunstler this morning…Peak Pretending…..now who can we think of?

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    For them what haven’t bookmarked newshoggers yet:


    The skinny: Sanctions on Iran are not going to work because India, Russia, Turkey, Iraq and China also have interests in the region; interests that the west is ignoring when we try and ‘fix’ Afghanistan by turning a blind eye to Pakistan. hoocoodanode?

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    And while I’m talking about Pakistan, the floods there are a huge story isn’t really getting the coverage it deserves and needs:


    The flooding just keeps getting worse and worse. On Saturday, the UN estimated that 4 million people were affected by the flooding in Pakistan. By Sunday they revised that estimate to 6 million people. Today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 13 million people are affected.

    It is no wonder that a UN officials are saying this is bigger than the 2004 tsunami. In fact, that would make it bigger than the combined number of people affected by the Tsunami, Haiti earthquake and 2005 Kashmir earthquake…combined. Make no mistake: this is the worst natural disaster in recent history.

    It’s not just a humanitarian crisis. Pakistan is very unstable, and has nukes. The real actual AQ leadership are in Pakistan. The security forces are still playing both sides, and there is a simmering civil war brewing….


    The killing sparked violence in Karachi, with at least 65 people killed in clashes between supporters of the anti-al-Qaeda MQM and pro-militant groups. Hundreds of buildings and vehicles have been destroyed and the city remains extremely tense and virtually closed down after overnight fighting on Tuesday.

    The unrest comes at time the country is reeling from its worst floods in living memory, with vast parts of northwestern Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, southern Punjab and parts of Balochistan affected.

    The assassination has reopened deep faultlines in Karachi, the country’s main financial and industrial city, where over the past six months targeted killings on ethnic as well as sectarian lines have been frequent, with 165 people killed.

    Haider hailed from the ethnic Urdu community and was a Shi’ite. The alleged killers, if they did indeed belong to the Fazl Mehsud group, would be Sunnis and ethnically Pashtun.

    Karachi’s closure has completely choked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) supplies, of which more than 60% of non-fuel supplies and up to half of the fuel used by Western forces in Afghanistan passes through the port city.

    Asia Times Online investigations lead to the conclusion that al-Qaeda desires to jack up tensions in Karachi, open up a front in central Punjab and exploit the flood-affected situation in restive Khyber Pakhoonkhwa. The belief among al-Qaeda leaders is that NATO’s combat operations will have to be abandoned by the end of this year.

    Al-Qaeda’s war
    In al-Qaeda’s broader analysis, mainly agreed on by ideologues Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (the latter – better known as al-Masri – was killed in drone attack this year), it is essential that Pakistan’s armed forces be engaged across as much of the country as possible. This, it is argued, will eventually lead to Pakistan’s support of the “American war” drying up.

    This approach led al-Qaeda to open up multiple war theaters in the tribal areas, such as Khyber Agency, Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency and South Waziristan. The result was that the military had no capacity – or will – to launch operations against the global headquarters of al-Qaeda in North Waziristan. Al-Qaeda plans much the same for central Punjab, starting with the capital Lahore….

    No doubt a surge is all we need, home by christmas, etc.

    • BLiP 3.1

      Asia Times Online investigations lead to the conclusion that al-Qaeda desires . . . .

      Dox or GTFO

  4. joe90 4

    Images of the Pakistan floods from The Big Picture show the scale of the disaster.
    Avoid the comments, ugly.

    • The Voice of Reason 4.1

      Amazing photos, Joe. Thanks for the link, though I’m not sure why we should avoid the comments. Most of them were just the usual numb nutted yanks, at least until comment no.50 from this cleverly named contributer:

      “50.To all those advocating prayer, how about asking for something…you know…uh..useful? God doesn’t exist; never has and never will. Grow up already and realize there is no magic sky daddy looking out for you and solve your own damn problems.

      Posted by Voice of Reason August 6, 10 09:56 PM”

    • BLiP 4.2

      Far out!! Shocking stuff.

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    “The extent of the escape is unprecedented,” says Cynthia Sagers, an ecologist at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, who led the research team that found the canola (Brassica napus, also known as rapeseed).

    Sagers and her team found two varieties of transgenic canola in the wild — one modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (glyphosate), and one resistant to Bayer Crop Science’s Liberty herbicide (gluphosinate). They also found some plants that were resistant to both herbicides, showing that the different GM plants had bred to produce a plant with a new trait that did not exist anywhere else.


    I’m not generally opposed to GM thingies, but ffs. If you’re gonna breed plants resistant to control, keep them in their fckn cage people.

    • Bored 5.1

      It pays to regard GM in the same way you would radiation, once out of the bag you cant get it back and it has a bloody long half life. For that reason alone it should be banned.

      • BLiP 5.1.1

        Too late . . . GE contaminated products are already well embedded in the food chain. We just have to take the scientists’ word that we’ll all be okay.

        • NickS

          Protip: cloning is not genetic engineering, as genetic engineering involves knocking out and/or adding genes to an organism, where as cloning takes the nucleus from an adult cell and chucks into a de-nucleated egg and zaps it to kick start it. Big difference.

          Also, unless that cloned meat is kicking out some really weird shit, it’s just as safe as beef from the same breed of cattle raised in similar environments.

        • Bill

          Nah Blip.

          It’s not scientists, as in the scientific community who are saying that we’ll all be okay.

          It’s people in the employ or pay of the corporations who are throwing the precautionary principle to the wind.


          Is it scientists or the scientific community who are proclaiming that climate change is a crock?

          We know it’s not the scientific community. So what is the common thread of these scientists who tell us everything is A-OK regards climate change and the crop/animal GE advocates?
          (hint – they gets money or backing from corporate interests whose financial interests it is in to neigh say caution and conservatism)

          Do you really believe the scenario is any different for GE? Or for any other number of issues where there is a corporate/market, versus society/people divide?

          You can’t discount and dismiss science one day and then elevate it to be the last word on a particular matter on another There is a pattern. It’s not hard to see if you want to see it.

          • NickS


            And what about the stuff from governmental bodies in the EU and NZ (there’s some others, tired, can’t recall)? Both use the precautionary principle, and have independent reviewers to look at the data those applying to make or sell GMO’s give.

            Also, GE promoting is not the same situation as Climate Denialism, in which you have self proclaimed experts popping up with a lengthy list of oil company etc donors/links, or the hordes of morons believing the likes of Ian Whishart. If anything, you more see the hordes of morons on the anti-GE side, making a variety of evidence free claims and using the disgust reflex, while those promoting GE typically are those who make use of the techniques and know the risks well. Basically, each source needs to be checked out, rather than just discarded merely on the basis of which side their message is on.

            However the likes of Monsanto have been epically fucktarded over promoting and managing their GE crops, making it difficult for those who understand the advantages and risks of GE to get our message across.

            • Bill

              Yeah, okay Nick. To a degree.

              But lets look at a couple of factors.

              1. Claims that GE crops give higher yield are false. ( It’s late, but if you need the links to the study results I’ll find them anon) Who pushes the falsehoods if not the seed and chemical companies seeking to develop and defend market share? Just exactly like the petro chemical industries in relation to climate change.

              2. Governments are not applying a precautionary principle. Governments are applying market principles, hence people who demand precautionary principles be practiced get on the streets in protest.

              3. Overblown and misleading claims for GE crops include, for example ‘Golden Rice’. The argument is that with vitamin A locked in it will save lives. But conveniently overlooked is the fact that in non-monoculture environments Vit A was procured from the avocado and nut trees etc that were subsequently felled for the sake of these modern wonder crops.( Market and market share again)

              4. Intensive study/research has not been carried out – and will not be carried out – because market principles are meant to be the guiding principles which has the potential to leave us all in he shit, eg the unpredictable cascade affects of changing ‘a’ to deal with ‘b’ while having failed to take into account the unpredictable effect that ‘c’ will now have on the altered organism and it’s environment.

              5. Allied to 4. Almost all corn on the American continent is now contaminated because of GE corn cross fertilisation. What are the consequences of this? No-one knows. But organisms evolve to particular states for very good fucking ‘reasons’. In fact, the way things are in evolutionary terms could not possibly be any other way. If they could be different, they would be different. So messing in ways beyond that which would be naturally possible probably isn’t a fantastic idea…which is us back at the precautionary principle again.

              • NickS

                1. Claims that GE crops give higher yield are false. ( It’s late, but if you need the links to the study results I’ll find them anon) Who pushes the falsehoods if not the seed and chemical companies seeking to develop and defend market share? Just exactly like the petro chemical industries in relation to climate change.

                I already know the yield issue, and indeed I bitched about Monsanto et al above. However, GE isn’t just about crops, there’s a whole range of drugs in the form of very difficult to synthesise small polypeptides, antibodies and complex organic molecules with correct chirality (wrong chirality = side effects or no/low activity). Not to mention GE is used to develop transgenic animal models and explore how particular genes impact on a given phenotype (disease models, evo.devo/evolution research), as well as mass producing proteins for various purposes. Then there’s biopharming, making transgenic animals and plants to produce various therapeutics (or vaccines like I linked to below) which are difficult to make with HELA yeast or bacteria in bioreactors, or need to be in a ready to use form.

                By lumping all GE under commercial crops, you and others miss the bigger picture and the very real beneficial applications of GE, as well as effectively trying to ban a major research tool in biochemistry, genetics etc. All over the actions of a few moronic companies, like Monsanto. Then there’s the over reaction to terminator genes which would have made escape of transgenes much less of an issue, with the right pricing model.

                2. Governments are not applying a precautionary principle. Governments are applying market principles, hence people who demand precautionary principles be practiced get on the streets in protest.


                Somehow I don’t think EMRA et al actually do what you claim they do. And it sure as hell doesn’t help that ignorant groups like GEFree NZ and Mothers Against Genetic Engineering keep spreading miss-info over stuff like starlink corn and transgenic cows for pharming human proteins. Leading to dumb arse protests that are driven by ignorant fearmongering and pseudo-science rather than actual scientific evidence.

                In other words, go read the ERMA and other groups guidelines, then come back to me. Because from Jack Heinemann’s lectures for bchm301 back in ’06, ERMA was already sticking to this for GMO’s and placing fairly strict field test conditions on researchers. And the EU has some of the strictest laws in the developed world for GMO field tests as well.

                3. Overblown and misleading claims for GE crops include, for example ‘Golden Rice’. The argument is that with vitamin A locked in it will save lives. But conveniently overlooked is the fact that in non-monoculture environments Vit A was procured from the avocado and nut trees etc that were subsequently felled for the sake of these modern wonder crops.( Market and market share again)

                lawl-fucking-wat again?

                The point of golden rice was to provide a source of vit A in areas where poverty and famine decreased the availability of other vit A sources and deal with vit A deficiencies in the developing world easily. And for fucks sake, if it is ever released, it will be freely available, with no added costs to those who need it the most.

                In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have vit A deficiency since the economic factors that cause it wouldn’t exist, but as it stands, we don’t and an easily available solution that involved one major carbohydrate sources for the world’s poorest exists in the form of golden rice. And though it’s a band-aide for the factors which cause it, it’s still a highly viable solution.

                It would be wonderful to provide a much better diet, however history and human stupidity has made that “slightly” problematic.

                4. Intensive study/research has not been carried out and will not be carried out because market principles are meant to be the guiding principles which has the potential to leave us all in he shit, eg the unpredictable cascade affects of changing ‘a’ to deal with ‘b’ while having failed to take into account the unpredictable effect that ‘c’ will now have on the altered organism and it’s environment.


                It. Already. Is. Fucking. Carried. Out.

                What the hell to you think ERMA etc do? Twiddle their thumbs?

                It’s akin to creationists constantly asking for more evidence, when you’ve already cluebatted them with a textbook. Or anti-vaccinations asking for 100% safety when it’s impossible to achieve for anything.


                5. Allied to 4. Almost all corn on the American continent is now contaminated because of GE corn cross fertilisation. What are the consequences of this? No-one knows. But organisms evolve to particular states for very good fucking ‘reasons’. In fact, the way things are in evolutionary terms could not possibly be any other way. If they could be different, they would be different. So messing in ways beyond that which would be naturally possible probably isn’t a fantastic idea which is us back at the precautionary principle again.

                Ugh, I don’t think you understand evolution…
                1) corn is not “natural”, humanity bred the living fuck out the ancestor of corn, that looks quite a bit like an overgrown tussock plant, to get the corn that appears in the archaeological from 1500BCE. Meaning that it’s evolved to meet the needs of humans and the environment that the plants were used in.

                2) There are multiple solutions to ecological conditions that evolution selects for, i.e. the product you see is the product very much of historical conditions, and trade offs, rather than a meritoriously engineered solution. Of course, this depends on the generation time, gene pool variation and size, population growth rate, migration rates and population connectivity, gene networks and selection strength. But suffice to say, evolution is not fucking perfect.

                Else we wouldn’t have depression etc to deal with, and we’d have the same retina construction as squid, without that fucking blind spot, not to mention the knee, shoulder and back issues. Basically, evolution can be improved on.

                3)The actual veracity of the claims of contamination in heirloom and indigenous corn variates is still disputed if I remember correctly. As the authors of the paper that sparked it didn’t do their controls fucking properly. But since it’s 12:21 am and I have work at 9am (thank Cthulhu for Hummingbird coffee), I can’t be arsed digging up the references. Also, corn is really utterly useless at wind pollination, as last years plants at home had to be right next to each other, which in terms of transgene spread, means GE crops would have to be rather close to a different corn variety for crossing to happen. Then you’ve got to take into account pollen competition and other factors to actually model the risk.

                …And it’s 12:25am. And I have work at 9am thanks to SJS. And depression caused oversleeping. Why the fuck did I bother writing this reply again? Gaaah.

                • loota

                  It. Already. Is. Fucking. Carried. Out.

                  What the hell to you think ERMA etc do? Twiddle their thumbs?

                  It’s akin to creationists constantly asking for more evidence, when you’ve already cluebatted them with a textbook. Or anti-vaccinations asking for 100% safety when it’s impossible to achieve for anything.

                  Uh…so where and when did ERMA do this intensive, longitudinal research which exposed the majority of NZ native species and ecosystems to these GE crops and tracked the effects of that interspecies exposure over generations? Anyone here fed GE modified corn to a kakapo to see how it went down?

                  Oh it didn’t happen did it? The research you’re talking about probably took place in carefully controlled and limited situations, reducing the generalisability and validity of the findings to the wild, yeah? And certainly who had funding or patience to check out the effects for more than a couple of years? Might be important to do this research over more than just a couple of years since we may be talking about eventually permanently and irreversibly introducing unpredictable new organisms into the wild, yeah? Possums, anyone?

                  Sorry mate you must think that the likes of me are asking a lot, but after seeing ‘extensively researched and scientifically proven safe’ drugs like Vioxx frak up a whole lot of people and a whole lot of scientists and scientific journals let patients down for years, I think that Bill’s ‘precautionary principle’ is not a bad thing, yeah?

                  • NickS

                    fuck, don’t have enough time to reply. I’ve spent nearly an hour mucking around reading stuff.

                    In a nutshell though, toxic effects of GMO maize (Bt types) on non target species only has one long term (3 months…) single animal model study to date, while short term feeding studies show no effect. Field studies on ecological impacts point towards an increase in certain insect life due to decreased pesticide usage.

                    Glycophosate resistant maize likewise has a dearth of long term feeding studies, which one of the ones touted a few years back by GreenPeace severely lacking in statistical power. With the 3 month feeding study on one variety pointing towards some markers of potential toxicity.

                    So off the top of my head, I’d doubt there’d be any toxicity towards avian species unless you force feed them GE maize, and GE maize only, more so if they’re adapted towards a more broad diet in the first place.

                    Ugh, and here’s the paper:
                    Read the whole thing and think before spouting off, else I’ll snark you to death.

                    Also GMO’s are not fucking drugs, whole different class of research and testing there, with the main issue with Vioxx was lying by omission on the drug company’s part (when are sales teams never evil?) and fraud by one of the researchers. Which was only revealed after the drug was withdrawn. And given the intense scrutiny over GM corn, fraud would have been revealed by now as some bright spark would have noticed the usual indicators of data fabrication in the short term feeding studies.

                    Also, what about the other GE stuff? GE isn’t just about fucking corn and modifying other crops for Cry toxin production and herbicide resistance. Nor is it the be all and end all of GE safety and modification techniques.

                    Anyhow, I’m running late now. I’ll post something longer later on if I haven’t crashed from a lack of sleep. I heart insomnia.

                • Bill

                  Appreciate the time you’ve put in to responding.

                  But a couple of points. I’m not commenting on GE beyond its agricultural application.

                  Your comments on that facet of GE’s efficacy display a certain blasé dismissal of socio/economic effects that have been brought about by the imposition of the very agricultural model so favoured and promoted by corporations and others pushing for GE ‘fixes’.

                  You can’t see the irony in that? That the very thing that has visited strife on people is now being touted as the cure or solution to the strife? eg Vit A in rice.

                  • NickS

                    Eh, I’m a cynical bastard at heart and I think, much like the patriarchal bs present loaded on society, to change the present means of agriculture it’s going to take a shock to the system. In short, the entire false competitive advantages that make the present inefficiencies in food distribution and large scale monocultures economically viable needs to be dismantled utterly and the technology re-purposed to suit smaller scale and mixed plots. Which leaves me stuck in pragmatism mode, and more than willing to use technologies that make monocultures less harmful.

                    I’d also strongly opinion that GE does hold advantages for mixed agriculture in terms of expanding crop traits and providing a means of rapidly* providing immunity against agricultural disease which are still a problem even with mixed plot systems. Well, that depends on local ecologies and vectors, but per the papaya example, GE + plant breeding can provide protection against diseases which otherwise would cripple yields. It’s just that the design of the transgenes + expression system and insertion need to be done in such a way that minimises potential negative side effects.

                    Also, ugh, I don’t think I’ll be capable of getting around to posting more indepth stuff today, I’m near my caffeine limit and I still need to get some paid work done and find a means of escaping Christchurch this weekend for a much needed tramp. Meh, I’ll get back to this tomorrow. Nick needs sleep.

                    *the definition used here is the evolutionary one of rapid, i.e. at the speed of reproduction, mutation and genetic variation *cough* Translation: years instead of decades.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        Which has always been the biggest argument against GM – we have NFI WTF it’s going to do “in the wild”. Research, yes, but don’t go around creating GM organisms until we do have some idea.

      • NickS 5.1.3

        It pays to regard GM in the same way you would radiation, once out of the bag you cant get it back and it has a bloody long half life. For that reason alone it should be banned.

        So I take it you’d ban these as well?:

        Or this?:
        Cornell University and the University of Hawai’i Introduce the First Genetically-Engineered Fruit Crop.

        And the GM insulin and other peptide drugs that traditionally we’d have to harvest from the dead or animals? Ye fucking eldar things from beyond the stars, GM isn’t just for modifying crops for herbicide resistance and bt-insecticide production, particularly for producing enzymes, peptides and even hydrocarbon polymers and other organic chemicals that are otherwise very, very difficult to chemically synthesise or impossible due to complex chirality, which if not right will produce an inactive substance, or give nasty side effects.

        No, what matters is making sure that the gene’s your adding don’t spread out into weedy plants, on top of taking into account evolutionary pressures when using pesticides and herbicides to minimise both usage and the chances of resistance emerging. As well as rigorously checking that that added gene(s) do no generate any negative effects through out an organisms gene/metabolic network that result in toxicity. Something which is relatively “easy” ( it just takes months to years of work…) to test with animal studies and with mRNA/protein assays to ascertain possible risks.

        Is it a panacea like Gosman claimed in another thread? Hell no, we barely understand how to construct small genetic systems comprised of a few genes plus the regulatory genes to activate them. Which limits our ability to do really subtle, only on when it’s needed per stuff like droughts in eukaryotes (bacteria etc are ratehr easy…). For otherwise it’s generally a simple binary switch, so bt production will always be “on” instead of ramping up when insect damage occurs, or say when a heat wave hits to minimise the well known 10-25% drop in grain yields. It’s possible to do, it’s just more or less in development stage rather than being put into field-trails.

        And you know the weird/neat thing? When the gene insertion goes right (i.e. it lands in a stretch of non-coding, non regulatory DNA), the changes in gene expression are often close to that we get during normal plant breeding processes, which we generally don’t go nana’s over.

        Anyhow, GE is not inherently dangerous in my view, rather like any tool we have, it’s negative effects are dependent on how it’s used, and given the current climate, it’s likely safer than the water based paint I use for painting houses. And in some cases, is a very much needed tool to provide medicines, research tools (hello clone libraries and transgenic mice models) and preventing key crops from going extinct and providing long-life, easily transportable vaccines to developing and developed nations.

        Oh yeah, how the hell do I know all this stuff? Jack used to teach a segment on genetic modification, focusing on gene regulation and metabolic effects and how to detect them in biochemistry 301 back in 2006 as part of the post translation covalent modification of polypeptides (not just enzymes folks), focusing on the addition of phosphate groups that can modify enzyme activity.

  6. joe90 6

    Enough bad shit for one day so time for some good shit, the surreal works of Jacek Yerka.

  7. john 7

    The US is collapsing as a society and economy refer link this the country that gave us the free market Rogernomics ideology:

  8. NickS 8

    I think this explains certain anomalous facts about the Key Government, and the fate of Kate Wilkinson:
    The Calculator of Cthulhu
    hat-tip to Lew.

    And I fear that Brownlee’s next move will be to summon shoggoths to do his fell bidding and provide the NZ mining industry with the perfect workers…

    (theme album, Cthulhu Strikes Back)

  9. BLiP 10

    Ignore me – I’m just playing about with my new gizmo – delete at will but not til tomorrow please.

    Bugger! I thought a comment I sent via my flash new cell phone would be here – guess not. Error says spam word incorrect – try again but this time pay attention to upper case 16:55 – check balance, does Vodascum charge for these messages – maybe like text?

    Note to self RTFM!!!!

    • lprent 10.1

      Register & login – then there is no anti-spam word…

      Words like a charm on my iPhone. If you have one of the supported smartphones then you’ll even see a brand new The Standard

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