Label Cloud

donderdag 31 januari 2008

Of drug vaccines and weedmachines

Researchers of the Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, USA) claim to have developed a vaccine for drug addiction. Thomas Kosten, the lead scientist explains that this new product is actually a modified version of the drug. "The vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies which then attack the drug while it is in the blood stream. This prevents the drug from reaching the brain and creating the reactions that contribute to dependency." There have been promising results with cocaine. The product decreases slowly the amount of coke that reaches the brain. Since it consists of a gradual process, withdrawal symptoms should be minimal. Although results have been favorable, more tests need to be done in order to get an FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) approval. European researchers have been working on a (similar) tobacco vaccine, but they lag behind Kosten's work.

Recently, in Los Angeles, medical marihuana has been made available to patients thru vendor machines. Only registered patients with a prescription are allowed to use the dispensers. "The specialized machine installed Monday at Herbal Nutrition Center - a medical-marijuana dispensary on La Cienega Boulevard - requires fingerprint identification as well as a special prepaid card. ... The black, armored box is bolted to the floor at the entrance to the dispensary. It has a card swiper, a video camera that also takes a snapshot of any user and adds it to a database, and is protected by armed security guards." Even so, you can imagine that not everybody is happy with the pot machines.

The funny thing is that in the same country people are working on a "vaccine" against drugs and others are putting weedmachines on the streets. As Dr. Kosten states as well, addiction is not a case of physically getting it out of your system. People who like taking dope, will probably look for a replacement if one doesn't work anymore. Perhaps this anti-drug drug might easy the initial problem of a cold turkey, but let's not forget that that's only the beginning.

And putting weedmachines on the corner? It takes the inherent coziness away that can be found in a good old-fashioned coffeeshop. Besides if you're sick, you might like the social contact when buying it from a real person. But what do I know? It's easy to judge from across the Atlantic. In my opinion, a more honest - legal - approach to the marihuana "issue" would probably do society more good than hard repression. We know by now the "war on drugs" is - and always has been - a lost cause. Intelligent and honest information usually works better than acting like a bully.

dinsdag 29 januari 2008

Henry Rollins is Provoked

Last Thursday (January 24) Henry Rollins has presented his latest spoken word performance at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. Every two years or so the man is back with a new show in which he speaks of the things that have happened to him and about the injustice he sees around him. As usual he walked on stage and talked for three hours straight.

He started of by telling us about where he had spend his Christmas vacation just before coming to Europe: Pakistan. Apparently he was there when Benazir Bhutto was killed. Right after the assassination he went out into the streets for a walk. You'd think that an American wandering around during a moment of crisis would surely get himself killed. He talked about the grief the Pakistani expressed and the outrage against the political situation. During another trip he went to Beirut, Lebanon, another so called hot spot. The gist of his stories about his travels is: when you keep an open mind and a genuine interest in the people you meet, you're bound to have an interesting and - most likely positive - experience. And you might learn a thing or two.

A large part of his performance was about the tribute gig he did with a band called the Ruts. Rollins has been a huge fan of theirs since the late seventies. They only released a number of singles and one album when their singer Malcolm Owen died from a heroin overdose. Last year, 27 years after they had split up, the band got together again for one last time to play a benefit for Paul Fox, following his diagnosis with cancer. Rollins was asked to fill in for Owen. They were supported by Tom Robinson, The Damned, Misty in Roots, UK Subs, Splodge, John Otway and the Peafish House Band which featured Lee Harris, (The Blockheads), Tony Barber of The Buzzcocks and Rowland Rivron. This was a heavy part of the performance since it speaks of the double edged feeling that goes with playing with your all-time favorite band because one of them is dying.

As always, he discussed the political situation in America. He is a staunch advocate of peace, who hopes that the next president will be able to clean up the mess that was left behind by the present legsilotian. He implored us to be patient and to not give up on America ("good people, bad representation"). However, this time around he didn't rant about politics as much as before. He left us with an amazing quote though: "Mandela is dead (pause) because Sadam has killed the Mandela's". According to him we should be watching out for more of these beautiful sentences during the year to come. Bush doesn't have to think about re-election anymore and Karl Rove (AKA Bush' Brain) is gone. So, whatever he will say next will have to come from his own mind. Gems of poetic beauty are sure to follow.

woensdag 23 januari 2008

Get educated

Break has launched the new interesting and extremely useful online encyclopedia Chickipedia.

Chickipedia Vs Wikipedia - Watch more free videos

maandag 21 januari 2008

Effects of cell phones on sleep

The British newspaper The Independent published an article called Mobile phone radiation wrecks your sleep. The results of the research - sponsored by Mobile Manufacturers Forum, an international association of radio communications equipment manufacturers - done by the Universities of Uppsala (Sweden) and Michigan (USA) has shown that "radiation from mobile phones delays and reduces sleep, and causes headaches and confusion." "The scientists studied 35 men and 36 women aged between 18 and 45. Some were exposed to radiation that exactly mimicked what is received when using mobile phones; others were placed in precisely the same conditions, but given only "sham" exposure, receiving no radiation at all. The people who had received the radiation took longer to enter the first of the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one. ... Professor Bengt Arnetz, who led the study, ... believes that the radiation may activate the brain's stress system, "making people more alert and more focused, and decreasing their ability to wind down and fall asleep". ... [The study] also complements other recent research. A massive study, following 1,656 Belgian teenagers for a year, found most of them used their phones after going to bed. It concluded that those who did this once a week were more than three times – and those who used them more often more than five times – as likely to be "very tired". Dr Chris Idzikowski, the director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, says: "There is now more than sufficient evidence, from a large number of reputable investigators who are finding that mobile phone exposure an hour before sleep adversely affects deep sleep."

I don't know how many of you use your cell as an alarm clock, but I know that I have for the last 5 years or so. From now on I think I'll stop using it for that purpose. Especially since Hammy and I have bought an excellent replacement: the Wake-Up Light. The idea behind this product is that, about half an hour before you're supposed to get up, it "gradually fills your room with light, allowing you to wake up naturally. You'll rise feeling fresher, more alert ..." The light activates your energy hormones, giving you more energy than usual by the time you wake up. Now, I'm quite a heavy sleeper. It happened fairly often that I sleep through my alarm clock, or stop it without waking up. So, I was sceptic at first, but this stuff really works. Before, I "snoozed" for more than half an hour before getting up, now I'm out of bed ten minutes after waking up.

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

It is well known that the famous actor Tom Cruise is as sane as Caligula. For years now he has been Scientology's most ardent supporter and active campaigner. If being a scientologist doesn't spell madness in itself than his latest claims certainly do. There are a few videos circulating the net in which he states that he rescued America after 9/11, and that psychiatrists/psychologists should be jailed (since there are no such things as chemical imbalances they must be pseudo scientists).

Four years ago he has accepted the Freedom Medal Of Valor (for Achievement in the Field of Excellence). In his acceptance speech he asked the crowd "should we clean this place [the world] up?" According to the renowned German historian Guido Knopp, this scene is very reminiscent of the famous speech made by Joseph Goebbels on 18 February 1943 in Berlin, where he asked the crowd "do you want a total war?" (Bild Am Sonntag). Knopp warns us that Scientology is a dangerous sect for which we should all watch out because they want to install a totalitarian system with the aim of controlling people's souls.

What I have always found strange, is that a doctrine that states that aliens which we cannot see are here to help us save our souls, still has followers. Oh, wait, that's the basis of most religions. Let me rephrase: Why do people rather believe in what they cannot see, than in science (which has a higher probability rate since it is based on empirical evidence and doesn't claim to have the absolute truth) is beyond me.

Although scientologists have tried to suppress the diffusion of the above mentioned videos, there still out there. The madness of Cruise can be witnessed here. More info on Scientology itself can easily be found on the internet.

Here are ze original ramblings:

And the Jerry O'Connell parody:

Medal of Valor acceptance speech:

zondag 20 januari 2008

maandag 14 januari 2008

Natalia Meets En Vogue feat. Shaggy

Yesterday (January 13) my family, Hammy and I went to see the new Meets show of Natalia in Antwerp. For those of you who don't know who she is: Natalie Druyts is a Belgian pop singer (with some soulish qualities) who got known after becoming the first runner-up of the Belgian Pop Idol of 2003. In the meantime she has acquired a solid live reputation thanks to her professional attitude and magnificent voice. Two years ago she organized Natalia Meets The Pointer Sisters at Het Sportpaleis in Antwerp (one of the largest venues in Belgium. The show was a huge success. And now she was back with a series of six concerts with the ladies of En Vogue and the Jamaican player Shaggy.

I think about 15 000 people where there. The show was quite amazing. She had an excellent band, including Sugarfoot on drums (touring drummer for Michael Jackson, Elton John, Cameo, Madonna, George Michael, ...) with her and she can hold her own on a stage. The show was a mix of Natalia and En Vogue songs. Natalia set it off with some of her own songs. Then came En Vogue with some of their biggest hits. From then on both groups alternated and sang together their respective tracks. Especially for the occasion they have recorded a song together called Glamorous.

The only disappointment was Shaggy. Musically that is. The man didn't do all that much. And what he did was more show than anything else. I mean, he's got one flow and that's it. They made him sing at the end. Unfortunately singing is not something he can actually do. Let's just say that he could open the off lock with his off key. He did his hits, badly at first but after the break it got a little bit better. He brought a friend with him who can sing ... to cover his lack of skills I guess. On the other hand, I don't think that that was his function. Five strong women accompanied by a macho player makes for a good show. So, in my humble opinion, Shaggy was there as Jester in the court of these Queens. He was funny. When he first came on he was wearing a soldier's costume of the American Civil War era of (if I saw correctly) the Confederate Army. I don't know how many people in Belgium got the joke though. And during the song "It wasn't me" he said: "When you're caught red-handed, you look the woman in the eye dead serious. And you say: I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Funny man.

Personally I like smaller venues more, because of the personal atmosphere. For a show like this, that's quite impossible of course. I've had a very good time and since I'm in the middle of an exam period (one coming up this wednesday) Natalia came as a welcome distraction. If you ever see Natalia come to a place near you, go check it out. In the meantime, here's some illegal footage (thank you internet):

zaterdag 12 januari 2008

Terry Jones' Evil Machines

The new opera/musical Evil Machines by Luis Tinoco and Monty Python's Terry Jones has recently premiered in Lisbon (Portugal). Originally a book, Jones has rewritten the story into a libretto. It is about machines trying to take over the world and involves cars, motorbikes, washdryers, parking meters and gigantic vacuum cleaners singing opera on stage.

donderdag 10 januari 2008

Show them to me

There is really only one thing I can say about this:

maandag 7 januari 2008

How many five year olds can you take in a fight?


I could take about 22, how about you?

zaterdag 5 januari 2008

BXL Represent

Don't know who these guys are, or what those motorbikes have to do with it (or guns for that matter), but still: Bruxelles représente!

vrijdag 4 januari 2008

Little Sis

My little sister came into my life, when I was 16 years old, at the age of 10 (almost 11). My parents wanted to help someone less fotunate than us. So, the they had decided they wanted to adopt. We went to Ha Noi (Viet Nam). There, we visited an orphanage. After drinking the traditional tea with the director, we were ushered to the courtyard, where a group of children (all girls) awaited us. Neither my mom nor I knew what was expected of us. We just said hi and stood there sheepishly. All of a sudden my dad said: "she's the one." Why her? He couldn't tell, it just felt right. Only last year, she told me that she was the only one who wanted to come with us. Why us? She couldn't tell ...

Now she's 22 and has grown into a confident young woman, who has just finished a bachelor of Law. But the most astonishing news she has told us at the end of 2007, is that she will be getting married May 19 on a boat in Ha Long Bay. This means that I will have to start seeing her as a grown woman. But in my heart she'll always be that little girl who stole my last smoutebol.

Baby sister, I wish you all that's good and I hope that your future husband will give you the world you deserve. I can't wait to see you as the beautiful bride you undoubtedly will be.