Archive for May, 2009

Russian universities: hotbeds of neo-imperialism

May 30, 2009

proyectReader Luke has emailed in an exchange between himself and the Unrepentant Marxist Louis Proyect. It was triggered by this long, meandering post about Proyect’s old college. The passage Luke took exception to was this:

[Bard College President] Botstein would seem to share [George] Soros’s missionary complex vis-à-vis the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. With money siphoned from developing economies like Thailand’s, Soros has been able to foot the bill for Bard College’s colonizing effort in St. Petersburg, namely Smolny College, which sits next door to the organizing center of the October 1917 revolution–thus bringing the counter-revolution full cycle. Claude Allegre, the former French education minister, expressed misgivings about efforts such as Smolny College: ‘That our students go and study in the United States and Britain is entirely desirable, but that the Americans install their universities throughout the world, all on the same model and with the same courses, is a catastrophe.’ Well, what can one say–that’s just the voice of Old Europe once again. For the New Europe of Donald Rumsfeld, handouts from people like George Soros are eagerly accepted, especially since college professors in the liberated Russia republic average about $65 per month.

To which Luke responded:

This is possibly the silliest thing I have read on a blog since I stopped reading Lenin’s Tomb. Do you know anything about education in Russia? I’m an American student who is studying there this academic year, and can assure you that most Russians are very unhappy with the quality of their higher education, and the very wealthy attempt to send their children abroad to get education in the west. Labeling a liberal arts education the acme of counterrevolution is not only ridiculous but also completely hypocritical for you as a Bard graduate. Calling the creation of a liberal arts college in a country with a notoriously corrupt and inaccessible education system ‘colonial’ is extraordinarily ignorant. I assume you read Russian, since you appear to be able to recognize colonialism in the education system, and would tell me why other Russian professors became so interested in the college’s model?

Proyect:

Luke, I don’t regard a liberal arts education as ‘the acme of counterrevolution’ but I certainly regard George Soros’s philanthropic efforts as counterrevolutionary. Eastern Europe and even gas-rich Russia is economically devastated today largely because of the efforts of the CIA, Soros’s millions and the connivance of the intelligentsia and apparatchiks who calculated that they might be better off under capitalism. If that description offends you, then I invite you to stop reading this blog, just as you stopped reading the blog of my comrade Richard Seymour of Lenin’s Tomb.

Luke gets the discussion back on track: ‘so are you saying now that you don’t regard Smolny as a ‘colonizing effort’? I’m talking specifically about Smolny, not Soros.’

This is where Proyect gets really silly:

Luke, what you should do is look at the political science course directory at Smolny and you will Soros-type preoccupations that would not be found in a normal college such as:

–Closed Institutions: Questions of Human Rights

–Human Rights as Political Theory: Its Emergence, Development, and Current State

–History of Human Rights Activism

–Human Rights Monitoring

–Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia: Scenarios of Post-Soviet Development

Half the courses are taught by Dmitry Dubrovsky, a ‘Human Rights’ activist associated with the ‘color revolution’ type movements that Soros supports. This is a highly politicized department that clearly seeks to influence the intelligentsia in the former Soviet Union along the lines of the Open Society. No other country in the world would have the audacity to open up a college in the US to promote ‘anti-American’ ideology. Could you imagine if the Cuban government funded a new college in the U.S. that had a political science department with courses like ‘On the need for economic justice in America’. It would be shut down immediately. Of course, Soros got away with this crap (until recently) because the Russian government saw the world the way that he did. Putin obviously is too much of a nationalist to put up with the Soros NGO’s but will likely tolerate the Smolny College for the time being.

The comparison with the metaphorical Cuba-US college is laughable given that US academics and students are often extremely critical of American governments. Back to Luke:

I think it’s great that the college offers classes on human rights, and I don’t regard that as colonialism, any more than Cuba’s creation of such a college course would be. The full description of the Human Rights Minor is here, along with actual descriptions of all the courses, which do not look that suspicious, and without actually sitting in a class, I withhold judgment. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Smolny and nothing about ideologically driven courses, if any other Russian speaker can show me where anything that indicates it’s all a stooge system for Soros go ahead. If human rights is an ‘anti-Russian’ ideology, I don’t know what to say, and dismissing these classes as ‘crap’ is an insult.

All Louis can say to that is ‘Luke, apparently you haven’t studied George Soros’s role in Eastern Europe very carefully with respect to ‘human rights’ but I would invite you to read what I wrote here: (Proyect link). Luke presses on:

As I said before, there is nothing in the course descriptions or offerings in the human rights minor that indicate that there is a bias in these specific courses or meddling by Soros. Until you have sat in on one of the classes that is being taught, neither you nor I can pass judgment on what is being taught in the classes.

‘Of course, Soros got away with this crap (until recently) because the Russian government saw the world the way that he did. Putin obviously is too much of a nationalist to put up with the Soros NGO’s but will likely tolerate the Smolny College for the time being.’

That’s funny, because according to here there are discussion going on between the program and the Russian ministry of education about the human rights program, and the Ministry is interested in expanding it to be included at other schools. Could you explain why the Russian government would want to have this spread if it is all just a Soros plot?

Several hours later, Luke adds: ‘You could always just admit that you made a mistake by writing about an educational system and course offerings that you misjudged.’

Only then does Proyect respond:

I am sorry, Luke. I really can’t take you seriously. You don’t show the slightest familiarity with George Soros’s NGO’s, especially their role in Georgia, Yugoslavia, Ukraine and other countries where they push for free market ‘solutions’ that have left people in dire poverty. I asked you to read what I wrote about Soros’s role in Hungary and you evaded me completely, only to pollute this blog with thousands of Russian words that nobody but a Russian or somebody who reads the language can understand. I have no idea whether you are some fan of the capitalist system irked by my taking exception to that system, or a confused left-liberal who really doesn’t understand what Soros means by ‘human rights’, a term that you have an uncritical understanding of. The one thing I got out of Bard College in the early 60s was an ability to think critically. Too bad that young Bardians today, and yourself apparently, have not been trained in that fashion.

I think this is a fascinating look at the problems with doctrinaire anti-imperialism, as well as the position that human rights is a purely Western idea forced upon the baffled natives of ex-slave empires and glorious socialist states.

Luke adds in his email to me:

I just would like to note that I don’t care for Soros or his politics, this is about Louis’s smearing of an educational institution and the human rights activists who have worked and trained there, and those who see it as a model for future human rights education in Russia.

(More Proyect action here.)

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Questions for Chris Mole

May 29, 2009

So it’s looking like the Great Crunch hasn’t caused any kind of revision in the government’s workfare plans. This is a press release from Chris Mole MP (crazy name, crazy guy):

The Minister was in Ipswich to visit the JobCentre Plus in Silent Street to see how people are being encouraged to return to work, and discuss with staff the role of sanctions on benefits for those who don’t cooperate with new training and assistance from the JobCentre. The discussion also focussed on the role of local employers in helping to encourage those who are long-term unemployed back to work.

The proposals would see people who have been unemployed for two years or those who go on and off of benefits working for their benefits and for the benefit of the local community.

The proposals would see those people in Ipswich who have been through the support of the New Deal and still haven’t found work or people who have a history of going on and off benefits taking part in full time community activity in return for their benefits. This will give people work experience that employers look for and will help flush out the people who are abusing the system or working while still signing on.

Commenting on the new plans, Chris said:

‘Long term unemployment is down 76% in Ipswich and more people are in work than ever before. But the days of mass unemployment have left scars and in some families worklessness has been passed down from generation to generation.’

‘This could be a win-win situation. Unemployed people will get valuable experience of work and we can all think of work that needs doing in the local community.’

The Ipswich Unemployment Action blog makes the point that claimants will have to be supervised. How much will it cost to train and salary these supervisors?

I have some questions of my own:

– Why is it that we never hear any information about what these claimants will be doing for their £1:73 an hour, or names of companies and organisations that are signing up? Volunteer work can be a great way to improve your skill set and thus increase your social mobility, but filling in potholes or doing outbound sales for next to nothing is not going to achieve much either for your CV or your quality of life in general.

– In these Troubled Economic Times™ shouldn’t every possible vacancy be advertised as an actual job? If there is work that needs doing why not pay a proper salary for it and get some wealth creation going on?

– If claimants are working 30 hours per week for their benefits, doesn’t that cut into the time when they could be filling out proper job applications and attending interviews?

– Why is it that, as a society, we are obsessed with cracking down on people who defraud the state of relatively small amounts while MPs who charge their servants’ accommodation to the taxpayer face almost no sanction?

The Ipswich bloggers raise the point that this is going to undercut the pay of those already in work. This could be a precedent for the further downgrading of the salaried job. We’ve gone from permanent contract work with benefits and protection to temporary work with almost no benefits and a third of the salary creamed off by recruitment consultants. This could be another step down.

(Via Andrew Coates)

Scientologophobia Watch: The French

May 27, 2009

This is a second guest post by the Church of Scientology UK Media Relations Team

You will all remember that since the UK Crown Prosecution Service gave our Church the same legal protection as mainstream religions, the Church of Scientology has been able to set up ‘Scientologophobia Watch,’ a lively interactive web forum on which people who insult our religion can be named, shamed and Fair Gamed.

Now, via the Scientologophobic website Butterflies and Wheels (yes, Ophelia, we’ll get to you in time!) the Church has discovered the biggest Scientologophobes of all – the nation of France. The BBC reports that: ‘The Church of Scientology has gone on trial in the French capital, Paris, accused of organised fraud.’

Worse, Scientology isn’t even recognised as a proper religion in that evil country. If the Frenchies win this could mean that the Church could be banned in France.

This is the prosecution’s wafer-thin case:

The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.

The church, which is fighting the charges, denies that any mental manipulation took place.

France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion, and the organisation could be banned if it loses the case.

It is the first time the church has appeared as a defendant in a fraud case in France. Previous court cases have involved individual Scientologists.

The woman at the centre of this case says she was approached by church members in Paris more than 10 years ago, and offered a free personality test. But, she says, she ended up spending 21,000 euros ($29,400, £18,400) on lessons, books and medicines she was told would cure her poor mental state.

Her lawyers are arguing that the church systematically seeks to make money by means of mental pressure and the use of scientifically dubious ‘cures’.

A lawyer for the church, Patrick Maisonneuve, said: ‘We will contest every charge and prove that there was no mental manipulation.’

The church’s spokeswoman in France said it was being ‘hounded’ by the French courts and that its members were facing persecution.

€21,000 is indeed a ridiculous amount – that wouldn’t even get you five minutes on the e-meter in these troubled economic times. If you think eighteen grand is steep, you should see the amount Tom Cruise has shelled out over the years.

And it’s worth it! Like all non-Scientologists, this woman will have been infested by the souls of aliens that were murdered by the evil galactic overlord Xenu. I mean, does she think we can just wave a magic wand and make the body thetans go away? Dream your little dream, baby! It takes years of auditing to reach the status of ‘operating thetan’.

All true believers know that you cannot find salvation in the blink of an eye. The religious journey is long and arduous. It can’t be done in a single step – whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew, the quest takes time, integrity, effort, sacrifice, patience and duty (and loads of money if you’re a Scientologist!)

And religions don’t reveal their secrets to just anyone. It’s widely known that you need to be at least an Arch-Deacon to learn the story of Christ’s resurrection, and that only imams with twenty years’ service are allowed a copy of the Quran.

It is all too clear that Premier Sarkozy has formed an unholy alliance with the warlord Xenu and has made at least two diplomatic visits to his mountain prison in Quadrant 9. Together France and Xenu’s empire are engaged into a militant secularist crusade against religious freedom.

But don’t worry, we at Scientologophobia Watch are fighting back. We have already succeeded in persuading the UK government to rename French Fries ‘Xenu Fries’. French mustard is now known throughout Britain as ‘Xenu Mustard’. And all future DVD releases of the classic film The French Connection will now carry the motion picture’s real title: The Xenu Connection.

But that’s not all – we’ve followed up with a major poster campaign to show the world who really runs France.

CB013150

The famous tricolore flag of France. Squint carefully and you will see the eight-armed trident of Xenu’s imperial federation.

04-Eiffel%20Tower

The Eiffel Tower. Or to call it by its REAL name… the XENU TOWER!!!

Redeyed_Tree_Frog

French people eat frogs every single day. Xenu is known to have descended from the Frog People of Alpha Centauri.  COINCIDENCE?!?

But that’s not enough – if we are going to win the battle against religious persecution we need YOUR help.

What we need you to do is to contact your MP and urge them to lobby for a nuclear first strike on France. It only takes five minutes and there are standard email templates available on the Scientologophobia Watch website. We need YOU to do this because the Church of Scientology doesn’t have an independent nuclear capability of its own (yet!) 

With a Trident missile pointed at their asses the French will soon have to recognise Scientology as a religion or be annihilated! (Although let’s face it, a nation that doesn’t recognise Scientology isn’t worth living in anyway!!!)

Make no mistake – the entire population of France is Fair Game. We can win this fight – but we can only do it with YOUR HELP.

Excelsior!

*click*

(end communication)

Lenny’s Bullshit Bingo

May 26, 2009

bullshitbingoLast week ReadySteadyBook featured a fascinating interview with Richard Seymour, of Lenin’s Tomb and SWP fame, discussing his book The Liberal Defence of Murder. This is Seymour explaining the origins of his blogging career:

Mark Thwaite: When and why did you first start blogging Richard?

Richard Seymour: I had been active on various message boards, arguing the case against the Iraq war. And just as one might gaze adoringly at some ordure just dropped in the pan and think ‘that is too beautiful to flush’, so I wished some of my comments and put-downs would have a permanent status somewhere on the internet. It was essentially intended to be a salon of scat, but somehow that noble purpose was lost on the way.

Sticking with the coprophilia theme, here’s Seymour bitching about his failure to win the Orwell Prize:

MT: We started exchanging a few emails recently because of the extraordinarily bad Orwell Prize shortlist. What do you think Orwell would have made of the shortlist?

RS: As you’re referring to the shortlist for the blog award – eventually won by a policeman for daringly belabouring ‘feral youths’ and the ‘Evil Poor’ – I had better point out that Lenin’s Tomb was included neither in the longlist nor the shortlist. So, naturally, I think Orwell would have detested it every bit as much as I do.

I also suspect that Orwell would have been horrified at the idea of such a prize being named after him. Awards are like statues, in that they only seem to attract copious amounts of shit.

Now, Mark Thwaite is an intelligent man and asks hard questions.

MT: The ‘bombing Left’ seems to think of some of the hard Left as the pro-Faith Left. Do you think bad compromises have been made by some on the Left associating with homophobic and mysogynistic Islamic groups?

Mark, it’s nice to know you’re still reading my stuff. Seymour’s response:

RS: It is strategically sensible for the liberal belligerati to focus on this issue and try to make the antiwar movement out to be ‘the enemy within’, in bed with the enemies of ‘Western values’. But it is by no means sensible for us to take their accusations as the starting point for a discussion. For example, this word ‘associating’ has quite a nebulous meaning here. I might ‘associate’ with Islamophobic liberals in defending the right to abortion, but does that involve a compromise on my part?

Let’s skip over the laughable notion that the antiwar movement is any kind of ‘enemy within’ rather than a hysterical and marginalised dead end in UK politics. Again Seymour doesn’t seem to understand the difference between single-issue campaigns involving people of faith and ‘actively forming political blocs with religious-political parties.

Seymour’s argument is that ‘a broad political campaign like the antiwar movement has to include everyone who opposes the war on whatever grounds, provided they aren’t outright fascists.’ As the STWC’s George Galloway is a donor to and supporter of the clerical fascists of Hamas then Seymour fails even on his own incredibly broad criterion.

Still, Mark presses him on the point:

MT: How should progressives walk the fine line between being vocally anti-Islamophobic and yet retain their own distinct secular radicalism?

RS: I don’t detect a ‘fine line’ between these two conditions. The Islamophobes in practise advocate an increasing encroachment by the state on matters of value, on conceptions of the good, and so on. That is not secular. Thus, while formally ‘secular’ concerns are presented about faith schools, or religious clothing, there is no doubt that what motivates them is the sudden discernment of a supposed threat to something called ‘British values’ or ‘Western values’ by Islam, and the desire for the state to thwart the threat. The result, which is that Muslims are singled out for opprobrium and suspicion, has nothing to do with secularism: it is its reverse. It is therefore not only possible to oppose this logic and remain secular – to be truly secular, it is *necessary* to oppose such logic.

But the arguments against faith schools and ‘religious clothing’ – I presume he’s talking hijab – are motivated by the fact that children don’t have a choice about whether they go to a faith school, and that women in Muslim communities do not, regrettably, always have a choice about whether to wear hijab. This is Patrick Weil, who sat on the presidential commission that recommended the French hijab ban, explaining why he changed his mind on the issue:

Either we left the situation as it was, and thus supported a situation that denied freedom of choice to those – the very large majority – who do not want to wear the headscarf; or we endorsed a law that removed freedom of choice from those who do want to wear it.

Also, Seymour’s anti-state rhetoric is unconvincing given that the main driving force behind faith schools is in fact the British state. And many defenders of secularism are and were against wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – so spare us the denounciations of ‘those who have aligned themselves with mass murderers’ and ‘soi-disant seculars’ with a ‘Spenglerian mysticism’ and ‘insistence on the idea of ‘Western values”.

The Enlightenment is not a Western invention: Seymour himself admits in his review of Chris Harman’s book that there was an ‘Islamic contribution to Enlightenment thought’. These are universal values, and if Seymour thinks they are exclusive to white liberals than that says more about the poverty of his vision than about the evils of the bomber left.

Finally, Seymour reveals the secret of his success: ‘If you want to make a career out of being a political writer, you have to find a way to market utterly conventional ideas as acerbic contrarianism.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Voodoo Histories

May 25, 2009

My review of David Aaronovitch’s history of conspiracy is now available at 3:AM.

Saving Salt Publishing: One Book At A Time

May 24, 2009

ellyreesEmily, Annie, Sally and Jane have highlighted the recent difficulties faced by Salt Publishing. As a niche publisher of just short stories and poetry the recession has hit them hard and Chris and Jen have been forced to appeal to the public. Now, I normally hate it when publishers and artists rattle the tin in your face but Salt is a quality independent whose collections are generally worth reading and well produced – the one I’m thinking of is the captivating Andraste’s Hair, by Eleanor Rees, but there are many others.

So buy a book from Salt – not for charity, but for quality.

The Horror, The Evil

May 23, 2009

The week’s revelations about the scale of neglect, slavery, sadism and sexual abuse in Ireland’s church-run children’s institutions are shocking. Read Marie-Therese O’Loughlin’s account of the Goldenbridge rosary bead factory:

I remember clearly, at 6:30 in the mornings, when I was eleven years old or thereabouts having to go to St Joseph’s babies/infants dormitory. I had to dress the toddlers. It was normal for some of them to have slept in their own excrement. When I took them from their destroyed beds, I found it so upsetting as they were always covered from head to toe in excrement. They were shivering and were all colours of the rainbow as they stood there waiting to be cleaned. I had to use the clean corners of the destroyed sheets. The only place to get water was from a very small toilet bowl. I dipped the sheet in the bowl and then cleaned the children. The whole dormitory which was a dark dank cold place stank to high heaven. The head honcho of the Sisters of Mercy at this time of morning was up in the convent saying her prayers.

The Commission into Child Abuse report has triggered an outpouring of Christian sympathy from clerics and commentators – not for the survivors and victims, naturally, but for the priests. This is the new Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols:

I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at. That takes courage, and also we shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did.

The Christian Brothers, one of the main providers of this faith-based welfare, said that: 

We acknowledge and regret that our responses to physical and sexual abuse failed to consider the long term psychological effects on children. As we have come to better understand the impact of such abuse, our goal and best endeavour has been to promote healing for complainants.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor did not address the crimes – perhaps wisely given his history of covering up child abuse. Instead he chose this week to identify ‘the greatest of evils’ as… a lack of faith.

The subtext appears to be: ‘Okay, some children were raped, but what about those poor old bishops?’ Doesn’t it take courage to own up to something under duress and after failed attempts to buy out the victims; to confess with little possibility of repercussions, with the public paying ninety per cent of your fines and under guarantee of anonymity? And also, erm, some priests are not paedophiles. Let’s not forget that, overall, faith makes you a better person. Can’t we talk about those nasty atheists instead? And they wonder why people have nothing good to say about religion!

Read Ophelia, and also here; and here; also Oliver Kamm, and here; and even Madeleine Bunting understands. There are survivors’ accounts on the Guardian letters page.

At Nick Cohen’s blog, Paul Fauvet raises the point that if a secular organisation were found guilty of such systematic and sustained evil – say, St Helens Council or the NCH children’s charity – the consequences for those responsible would be far harsher. Contra the self-pitying talk about the decline of religion, it’s clear that we still hold religious institutions to lower moral and legal standards than those to which the average citizen abides. If they could not condemn the perpetrators and send their hopes and prayers to the survivors and victims, it could have occurred to the pro-faith apologists that they should just stay out of this one. That they have not, illustrates the depths to which they are capable of sinking in defence of religion.

‘And yet suffused with kindness and courage’

May 22, 2009

My review of Amanda Craig’s Hearts and Minds is now available at 3:AM.

Brooker versus the BNP

May 20, 2009

Essential reading.

There was, I think, only one black kid in my primary school. One day, someone pushed him over and called him ‘blackjack’. The headmaster called an impromptu assembly. It involved the entire school, and took place outdoors. No doubt: this was unusual.

We stood in military rows in the playground. I must have been about six, so I can’t remember the words he used, but the substance stuck. He spoke with eerie, measured anger. He’d fought in the second world war, he told us. Our village had a memorial commemorating friends of his who had died. Many were relatives of ours. These villagers gave their lives fighting a regime that looked down on anyone ‘different’, that tried to blame others for any problem they could find; a bullying, racist regime called ‘the Nazis’. Millions of people had died thanks to their bigotry and prejudice. And he told us that anyone who picked on anyone else because they were ‘different’ wasn’t merely insulting the object of their derision, but insulting the headmaster himself, and his dead friends, and our dead relatives, the ones on the war memorial.

Our headmaster had fought for his country, and for tolerance, all at once. That’s what I understood it meant to be truly ‘British’: to be polite, and civil and fair of mind.

But according to the BNP, I’m wrong. Being British is actually about feeling aggressed, mistrustful, overlooked, isolated, powerless, and petrified of ‘losing my identity’. Britishness incorporates a propensity to look around me with jealous eyes, fuming over imaginary sums of money being doled out to child-molesting asylum-seekers by corrupt PC politicians who’ve lost touch with the common man – a common man who, coincidentally, happens to be white.

As Nick Lowles points out, the fascists are thrashing their hands in anticipation as they gaze upon the disintegration of our political class. Never mind that the BNP’s own accounts aren’t quite in order –  its party leader rattles the tin in so many members’ faces that disaffected Nazis type the party leader’s name as ‘Gri££in’ on their web forums – that their supporters don’t like appearing on leaflets, that they slander war heroes, and that the BNP is in any case full of psychopaths and criminals. People are angry. It seems that in this country you can get away with more or less anything if you are at a certain level of wealth and status. The BNP is skilled at presenting itself as a democratic alternative to a Parliament of Whores rather than the sordid little club of racists, inadequates and conspiracy theorists that we know it to be. It has a chance.

The growing prominence of British fascism has started the predictable debate on how to reclaim the flag from racist scum. David T makes a lot of good points in the piece I’ve linked to. I don’t see anything at all wrong with patriotism (as opposed to mindless nationalism). We should be able to say ‘we’ without the quotation marks. It is a shame that, as David says: ‘many people who regard themselves as progressive believe that what is notable about Britain is its racism and its ’shameful history of imperialism’’ – especially when this is a history shared by more or less every other country and people.

It would help if Britain was truly an idea as well as a nation. Homegrown Islamists are rare in America because all kinds of people are able to buy into a written constitution that sets out equality before the law. It’s about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not race, faith, kingship, land, soil and all the other old and stupid myths responsible for darkening the earth with blood.

In the absence of a Great British Dream we should celebrate what is good and brave about this country – our literature, our universities, our political activism, our cities, our music, our traditions of tolerance and fair play and our contribution towards global human rights and the defeat of fascism and totalitarianism.

bnp

HST was right

May 18, 2009

A valid reason for that glass of wine by the laptop.

The Colorado study tested the DNA of moderate-to-heavy drinking students to determine whether they had the G-variant gene. They were divided into two groups accordingly, before having alcohol injected directly into the bloodstream (to eliminate differences in absorption rate). Those with the G-variant produced a slightly different version of what is known as the mu-opioid protein, which elicits a stronger response in the brain. As a result they reported stronger feelings of happiness and elation after their shot of alcohol. This initial euphoria is usually followed by a longer state of relaxation, lasting several hours. For those with the G-variant, this period aids the creative process.

(Insert keyboard shortcut: CTRL HITCHENS=ALCOHOLISM here)