Friday, February 12, 2016

Don't throw transgender in with neo-colonial rackets

I believe that the Swedish model on prostitution is the most humane one that exists in practice, as does Sweden's Amnesty International branch, see here . For more serious dissent see here, here, here, here, and here.

 I also believe that transgender people are not afforded the respect they deserve. Both of these issues I attribute to academia having failed the feminist movement. People are people who need housing and food just like you and me. Opposition to this fact is a common thread in US and Western academia, heavily suppressed by ideology.

Feminists are not immune to this. According to a review in The New Yorker, leading 2nd wave activist Julie Bindel wrote an “admiring feature” in the British Guardian about a so-called expert on transgender perversion, who believes “The core is, it’s really exciting for guys to imagine themselves with female breasts, or female breasts and a vulva.” This is an old gimmick of Freud to declare anyone who disagrees a sexual pervert who is blinded by her hysterical libido. Another ally is a crank writer Thomas Szasz who demands that schizophrenics reclaim their God-given rights to serve as mystic seers, rejecting medical help.

Transgender has a far different history than this cold pathology. As O. Oyewumi wrote in “The Invention of Women,” “The splitting of hairs over the relationship between gender and sex, the debate on essentialism, the debates about differences among women, and the preoccupation with gender bending/blending that have characterized feminism are actually feminist versions of the enduring debate on nature vs nurture that is inherent in Western thought and in the logic of its social hierarchies.” The book is an important one in that it describes “anatomical females” practicing behavior afforded in some societies to anatomical men. An anthropologist cited by Oyewumi noted how a certain anatomical female was treated in Yoruba society “The king looks upon her as his father, and addresses her as such, being the worshipper of the spirit of his ancestors. He kneels in saluting her, and she also returns the salutation, kneeling, never reclining, on her elbow as is the custom of the women in saluting their superiors. The king kneels for no one else but her...” (Oyewumi, The Invention of Women p37) In other words, transgenderism is not a fetish, but a human practice.

While I respect a certain amount of defensiveness from anyone in LGBT, the membership card system clearly does not pave the way for more education and knowledge. Criticism of gender from a LGB perspective without this look at pre-colonial society is a recipe for chaos. Citing a Western academic, the advice columnist Dan Savage wrote that “Letting same-sex couples make the same gender-neutral commitment that opposite-sex couples make doesn't open the doors to polygamy.” In interviews, he has said that polygamy allows men to monopolize women. I don't find it at all coincidental that Dan Savage supported the Iraq war and prostitution, while Chris Hedges opposes both. It is mainly through the anger at the Middle Eastern backwardness that Savage rallied himself to support war, and continues to support only one-on-one marriage against polyamory relationships. The fear is outwardly Orientalist. “Developed” (read: Western) cultures have overcome the hurdle of polygamy and deserve to spread the freedom to others. What polyamorists want sounds much more innocuous than a foreign occupation to me ( Savage advised a young babysitter to engage in prostitution with a wealthy man. (

Without a challenge to Orientalism, the people in the LGBT community risk continuing to support other systems of patriarchy and domination.

Prostitution similarly is afforded greater respect through hate of state power. Regarding a common LGBT issue, AIDS, according to an interview with author Craig Timberg on NPR, “were it not for the intrusions of colonialism, it’s unlikely that the epidemic we know today would have come out in the way that we have seen.” The writer Luna Celeste who defends prostitution on shaky class ideology grounds nevertheless has a point that “racial profiling, raids, invasive searches, forced placement into factories and “rehabilitation centers,” deportation, State acquisition of sex workers’ children” are real concerns.

The Swedish Nordic model does address these concerns but as the state response to the industry in the US and other parts of the West, these are not being implemented.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

How Condescension Happens

Nobody really knows who Paul Krugman was aiming at in his Friday column, "How Change Happens" where he more or less recommended another Clinton presidency on the grounds that "Mrs. Clinton is the heir to President Obama" since "the health reform we got was basically her proposal."

I have some respect for Krugman here for sticking to policy. I agree that "while idealism is fine and essential — you have to dream of a better world — it’s not a virtue unless it goes along with hardheaded realism about the means that might achieve your ends." However, he doesn't follow through on the logic of his argument. Obamacare is good, therefore Hillary Clinton will produce more successes similar to this. 

What is really kind of sad is that Krugman is so offended by the people on his case, he hasn't found space to note that Clinton has put forward another proposal showing what she learned from Obamacare, based on "free-market" ideas from the Republican machine. What Clinton has learned apparently is not that the remaining uncovered people need coverage. According to Phillip Rucker at the Washington Post last April, “Clinton said that she wanted to “keep what works” but that she was open to changes, including the Republican idea of allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines." This idea was shot down both by Obama himself in the debates where he warned insurance companies would simply set up in Delaware, and mirrored again by Post columnist Ezra Klein who argued in 2010 "the legislation would not change the number of insured Americans or save much money, but it would make insurance more expensive for the sick and cheaper for the healthy."

After assigning Sanders and Clinton to pretty stupid categories, Krugman then goes on the attack. Sanders supporters must admit that "Even F.D.R., who rode the depths of the Great Depression to a huge majority, had to be politically pragmatic, working not just with special interest groups but also with Southern racists."

This is really strange reading of history, and betrays a kind of ignorance of how political movements do work. Krugman should suck it up, admit he's in over his head in essentially asking the Democrats to destroy the momentum that has pushed Bernie to the left on guns, and Clinton to attack the banks (whatever she means by that, I'm not sure). Roosevelt's New Deal, similar to the Civil Rights Act, was in many ways a rearguard defense against the organizing power from below. All one needs to do to see this is put the platforms of the Communist and Progressive Party side-by-side with those of Roosevelt to see where his ideas came from. If we did this with Obamacare, we'd end up seeing the program of the Republican party and the Heritage Foundation.

If Krugman believes that's the best we can do right now, fine, but his tirades against the imbecility of Republicans suggest he believes we can do better.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Apology to the pitchfork mob

I'm embarrassed to admit, but I did a lot of commenting without reading the actual Rolling Stone story on Chapo Guzman. Penn previously had done journalism exposing the corrupt corporation Dyncorp, whose behavior was largely swept under the rug. How could someone who exposed this outrageous criminality be surrounded by the elite press and mocked?

The press has been wringing its hands over Sean Penn's alleged chumminess with the evil Chapo Guzman. My original explanation is the Newsweek report that Guzman was an ICE informant. I believed this, added with the Dyncorp scandal, explained most of the press's reluctance to cover the situation with any seriousness, and to deflect all attention to Penn.
 Lately, however, the response has been surprisingly more measured. USA Today and the New York Times have dialed back their crusade, and Politico has went further and disavowed any serious criticism of his reporting.

It appears I should be careful what I wish for. Penn and the Rolling Stone are actually complicit in a cover-up on drug running.

Cited by the the writer emptywheel:
He cites (but asks me not to name in print) a host of corrupt major corporations, both within Mexico and abroad. He notes with delighted disdain several through which his money has been laundered, and who take their own cynical slice of the narco pie.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kuntar and Israeli propaganda

The attack by Israel on Lebanon recently has brought up history of a 1979 attack by the PLF, the events,  motives and significance of which are contested, but widely used as a rallying cry for a militant state. There are some important comments to make on this.

The following is a comment I posted on a blog by a very good journalist Richard Silverstein who I slightly disagree with on what to make of the story. The comment is mildly revised. I think Silverstein's suspicions are not unwarranted but require a more careful reading of the facts than his source gives, and much of this in the end can only be speculation. Unfortunately also for Silverstein, he is a target on Twitter and in his own comment section of trolls who do everything to tempt him with neutered political philosophy to threaten to "wrap terrorist in pigskin and feed 2 dogs" (mike28tt ) and remind him that "Palestinians are acting like animals and should be put down as such!" (Steambuilder1). It's largely due to this harassment I followed him in the first place, assuming he was -- in his harassers eyes -- someone defying state hegemony, and thus likely telling necessary truths.
*   *

The most pressing questions are not being answered. Does the government handle hostages situations effectively? How does the government try suspects, and is it an open and fair process? Finally, in what way does the intention to go to war corrupt the understanding and beliefs about threats the society faces? Haaretz writes that "In September 1979, a year and a half after the IDF’s Litani Operation [in south Lebanon], Weizman concluded a discussion on the objectives of the war, defining them as “breaking up the terrorist groups in southern Lebanon and the coastal areas.” (brackets in original) (1)

I think these are more important than who in fact was responsible. That said, I think it would be doing a disservice to the cause of the independence and anti-war movements to create a conspiracy theory. The last thing we should do is discredit ourselves by becoming myopic. I'm unconvinced by the testimony of the psychologist, although I don't think the story being told about Kuntar/Qintar is a neutural one. Part of his motivation is to sell a book, which he plugged in the interview. Should we listen to Bill O'Reilly or Samantha Power with as much reverence? Much of his evidence seems to come down to "He told me and I believe him." But everyone in jail is innocent, and truly believes it. In my opinion, to deny your own crime is a sign of humanity, that your conscience cannot handle accusing itself. A true psychopath would not care to deny it.
In its last large offensive on Gaza, Israel obliterated entire families. Israeli propaganda is well-served to have this crime projected onto a foreigner. If one were to sink as low as the IDF's knee-jerk defenders, one could even argue Kuntar was targeting the daughter as an unfortunate  human shield.

Similar motivated reasoning is almost certainly involved in the standard version of the events, and its mirror image. However, at the time, everything was being suppressed as a matter of principle, not just this case. (1) Referencing the time period "there was a plethora of books, speeches and articles made by those involved in the war, as well as analysts and critics, but “not a single one was based on sensitive, classified information.” According to Norman Finkelstein, Israel's image was hurt severely by these wars. The hoax "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters published was in 1984 "after Israel invaded Lebanon and suffered its first public relations debacle" (Beyond Chutzpah, p90).

Rather than an explicit coverup, it's likely that the 30 year suppression was simply a matter of policy to conceal as much as possible, regardless. In this way, one can still see why the standard version of events could hurt Israel's image and thus hurt any attempt to plan a new war. The standard version goes that Kuntar attacked a family, and after dispatching with a daughter's protector, went on to lustfully attack the defenseless child. Part of this is corroborated by Kuntar's alleged (though suspect) confession upon his arrest.  “Immediately following his capture, when his remand was extended, Kuntar confessed that he had bludgeoned Einat to death with the butt of his rifle. Later, however, when testifying in court, Kuntar denied the charges.” But a forensic account found brain matter from the child was on the butt of the rifle. (2) However, what motivated him to hurt the poor girl was not a premeditated genocidal attack but to separate the father from the daughter to claim the father as a captive, and this is quite routine in warfare. While still denying the murder “According to the terrorist, Danny Haran insisted on holding on to his daughter, and had he not done that, they would have only taken him to Lebanon.” (3) To me there is some truth hidden in this guilty conscience.

While not taking either his own or his captor's testimony at face value, this is the most plausible picture I think that can be painted. It may not be as sexy as uncovering an immense fraud (which takes serious scholarly work) but to assume that the facts will always fall into our lap in a neat package plants a false overconfidence, and distracts from the work needed to be done to change official policy. Again, it's mistaken to fall into the trap of speculating on events and lionizing a young man simply for being upset with society as much as we are. This version I put forth could be wrong. Who knows? What matters is what we can do about it and what we are prepared to do that it doesn't happen again.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Governor Rauner: the rent-seeker you can have a beer with

Illinois' new governor, like much of his party, has recently been blaming Democrats for mishandling the state finances. Republican state representatives concur that "it's up to the Governor to bring spending back in line with revenues," that it's "Chicago Democratic leaders who have held up the budget process." Adding a personal flourish to the the message, representative David Leitch condemns "the ineptitude of the entrenched super-majority." Representative Ron Sandack states proudly that the Republican Party will "stand together" in the face of these troublemakers.
The corporate press is not so convinced that the blame lies solely with Democrats (which I guess should tell you something) but cannot bring itself to squarely face the real underlying problems either. To blame Rauner and his allies would feel unbalanced, maybe bordering on psychotic. Crain's Chicago Business' Rich Miller complained that while "Rauner won't even talk about crafting a state budget until his nonbudget demands are met," on balance his opponents "refuse to see the damage they've done to this economy with their decidedly not pro-business laws" which protect the working people of the state. A profile bythe New York Times hailed as a devastating undressing of the oligarchy included the received wisdom that Illinois is broke due not only to elite negligence, but the will-to-power of teachers and firefighters. "Public employee unions, assured that the state’s Constitution made their retirement benefits untouchable, focused on lobbying for other spending. By last year, the state owed billions more in unpaid bills."

One error in this view is the assumption that the failure of the pension fund, and therefore much of the budget impasse, was a result in any way of worker lobbying. As I've discussed elsewhere, the focus on employee pensions is partially a distraction from the failure of the banks and their allies to make good on promises. The pensions shortfall began immediately after they were privatized by a Republican governor in 1982 with a promise of higher returns. When the privatized pension fund failed to live up to its promised amount, as predicted by Governor Thompson's own commission, the banks got a bailout, but the state government refused to fix the Goldman Sachs-created gap in the pension fund stocks.

A second error is the word "untouchable." The pension funds are anything but. They not only provide a reliable source of money to the market itself, but are a source of fees for the firms that "manage" them. Those firms are connected both to the mayor of Chicago and Rauner himself. In addition to facing the people with outright personal histories with these companies, employees and the people of Illinois are now up against what the conservative Illinois Review has noted are "Chicago's wealthiest families - the Crowns, the Pritzkers, etc." who have taken to lobbying to cut pensions because they "mean business."

The solution that Rahm Emanuel and the Republicans and the corporate media are holding out for is for the people of Illinois to plug this hole with cuts to essential services and wage penalties. 

What's truly unfair about this, besides the cuts themselves, and besides that the entire mess can be laid at their own feet and can possibly be solved with a moderate adjustment to the payment plan, is that the governor himself along with other economic winners use a tax shelter in Montana to avoid plugging the hole with their own money.

In 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported Rauner's "strong interest in open land conservation" that led him to win a spot on the Montana Land Reliance, a trust that his campaign was quick to note produces beer. Another sitting trustee is Hamilton E. “Tony” James, the CEO of Blackstone which "manages" the "untouchable" pensions. Conservation is not the only benefit of being a trustee, according to a publication by Montana State University. The other benefit is that "the donor of a conservation easement in perpetuity may also be eligible for certain tax benefits...The gift of a perpetual conservation easement to a qualified receiver can qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income tax, state income tax, inheritance and estate taxes. Term easements are not tax-deductible. To qualify for tax benefits, an easement must be for “conservation purposes” outlined in the Tax Treatment Extension Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-541)."

The majority of pollution in Illinois comes from the energy and transportation sectors. Not only will Illinois coal mining surge to an "estimated 60 million tons being mined next year, up from 50 million this year," but Rauner has teamed up with a man the Illinois government website has labeled an "avid conservationist," Wayne Rosenthal. The Huffington Post's Illinois environmental writer has a different take. Rosenthal's environmentalism in practice includes "being an enthusiastic supporter of fracking" while receiving "at least $20,000 in campaign contributions from corporate interests he would be charged with regulating."

Governor Rauner and his friends are clearly dodging taxes which used to get you in trouble in Chicago. But I suppose we first have to slay the terrible beast of the legal protection of the people in Illinois before we sort out a problem like that.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jobs Over Baghdad

Apparently there is little progress on stopping imperialism with our current Democratic candidates.

I was originally pretty hopeful for both. Coming out of the Iraq war and especially the horrors in Syria, I thought we'd see a more isolationist foreign policy. But while Clinton may be held back by the Iran Deal, she hasn't had to be held responsible for the disastrous war in Libya. In fact, she bragged how she hunted down even more of the evil foreigners during the debates.

And once the IMF said no to democracy in Egypt, we no longer care. Some of her best friends are dictators.

Bernie Sanders cannot escape criticism. Not only has he been weak at best on Palestine, he blocked efforts reduce weapons going into Guatemala and El Salvador as massacres were carried out:

"So when dozens of antiwar activists blocked the entrance to the local General Electric plant because it was manufacturing Gatling guns to fight the socialists in Central America, the protesters expected the mayor’s full support. Instead, he lined up with union officials and watched as the police made arrests, saying later that in blocking the plant, the activists were keeping workers from their jobs."

Obama did this too. From 2011 in The Washington Post:

The Obama administration on Thursday announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia valued at nearly $30 billion, an agreement that will send 84 F-15 fighter jets and assorted weaponry to the kingdom.

In announcing the completion of the deal, the White House also touted its domestic benefits, saying in a statement that, according to industry experts, it would “support more than 50,000 American jobs.”
Have to commend Katharine Chris Floyd and Asad Abukhalil for the commentary here.

I think Sanders shouldn't sell out the cause of peace just because some people get paid to make guns.
 But unfortunately, he probably only knows what the media tell him.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fragile X Review

Therapy or opposite protein or gene
Upregulated processes

S-Adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase activity
tRNA aminoacylation for protein translation

Amino acid transport

Chaperone activity
protects from stress “triggered by elevated levels of FMR1”
Glucose catabolism

leucine and isoleucine improved glucosemetabolismin CCl 4 rats by promoting glucoseuptake in skeletal muscle”

upregulationof these glucosetransporters has been shown to be caused by acute
  • cytokines,
  • angiotensin II,
  • endothelin-1,
  • vascular endothelial growth factor,
  • transforming growth factor-beta,
  • and hypoxia
Green tea?

4. arganine
Gentiana manshurica
folic acid

5. Rhodiola increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and TGF-ß1. - Rhodiola rosea
* *
sertraline therapy might have exerted immunomodulatory effects through a decrease in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-12 and an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and TGF-β

Ubiquitin cycle
In an attempt to get rid
of the excess of FMR1 mRNA, the cell might attract chaperones or elements of the ubiquitin/proteasome system.
Muscle repair?

Neuroprotective effect of silymarin in a MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease

J Pérez-H, C Carrillo-S, E García, G Ruiz-Mar… - Toxicology, 2014 - Elsevier
Abstract Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease secondary to the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) produces in mice and primates histopathological changes ...

Protein folding
Pre-50 upregulated? Purα, Rm62, CUGBP1,
hnRNP A2/B1, SAM68, and DROSHA-DGCR8,
Isomerase activity

GABA α1, 3,4; β2; γ2 cerebellum
GABA α3,
GABA α4;
GABA β2;


Downregulated processes

Oxygen binding (neuroglobin(Ngb) and cytoglobin
(Cygb) are supposed to be involved in oxygen (O2) storage and delivery )

stimulating energy producing, catabolicpathways (fatty acid oxidation, glucose transport, etc.).

Research in Britain has shown that the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelinalso affects AMPK levels

Cytosolic calcium ion concentration elevation
(Ashwaganda, Li+)
Nuclear pore
- Alzheimer's / memory

fisetin: Colophospermummopane mopane,[2]mopani,[citation needed] balsam tree,[2]butterfly tree,[2]or turpentine tree

kaempferolHYPERLINK ",14"and fisetinon thermotolerance, oxidative stress and FoxO transcription factor DAF-16 in the model organism Caenorhabditis …
Capers, canned26.74 mg100 gramsKaempferolKale, raw13.33 mg100 gramsKaempferolDill weed, fresh13.00 mg100gramsKaempferolCress, garden, raw10.30 mg100 gramsKaempferolDock, raw10.00 mg100 gramsKaempferolChives, raw6.16 mg100 gramsKaempferolBroccoliHYPERLINK "", raw4.80 mg100 gramsKaempferolTurnip HYPERLINK ""greens, raw

tea, broccoli, cabbage, kale, beans, endive, leek, tomato, strawberries and grapes) and in plants or botanical products commonly used in traditional medicine (e.g. Ginkgo biloba, Tilia spp, Equisetum spp, Moringa oleifera, Sophora japonica and propolis
Transcriptional activator activity

expression was decreased for some of
these same genes (for example, gad1, ssadh)

improved memory?: ,α1
overexpression ofgenes for several GABA A receptor subunits (for example,α1,3,4; β2; γ2) and proteins involved in GABA metabolism(gad1, ssadh) has been observed in the cerebellum, but
not the cortex, of CGG dut KI mice, which could be relatedto the motor phenotype observed in FXTAS [82,83].

In BD, however, a suppression of transcription factors involved in cell differentiation may contribute to GABA dysfunction. \par
Glycoprotein biosynthesis
reexposing dark-reared mice to light rapidly upregulatesArc/

Lipid catabolism
Alpha lipoic acid?
Omega 3?

Transcription initiation

Serpina3, a serine protease inhibitor that is released during inflammatory responses, was up-regulated and may reflect the increased prevalence of autoimmune disease (for example, lupus, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, thyroid disease)

Involvement of hippocampal Arc in amnesia and its recovery by alcoholic extract of Ashwagandha leaves

A Gautam, R Wadhwa, MK Thakur - Neurobiology of learning and memory, 2013 - Elsevier
... 2.6. RNA in situ hybridization. ... through different receptor system, like NMDA-R, mAChR and TrKB leads to PKA, PKC or ERK dependent increase in Arc mRNA and protein ... Further, NMDA-R activation leads to increase in the transport and translation of Arc mRNA in dendrites. ...

vitamin e?

Whey protein, as exclusively nitrogen source, controls food intake and promotes

NAC, an antioxidant
that promotes glutathione The cruciferous family of vegetables is one of the richest food sources of glutathione. The most potent vegetable is Brussels sprouts. Others include cauliflower, broccoli (particularly the flowers, not the stem), cabbage, kale, bok choy, cress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi.
  • In addition to the cruciferous vegetables, both garlic (Allium sativum) and the ripe seeds of the common green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) help make glutathione and its dependent enzymes more effective.
  • In the Slovak Republic, researchers discovered in animal studies that eating red beets not only reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but also decreased cholesterol deposits in the aorta and increased GST enzyme levels, making the animals less susceptible to chemically induced colon cancers.
  • At the University of Illinois, researchers found that including the herb rosemary in the diet could increase GST enzyme activity. The strongest activity resulted when an extract of the herb was given by injection, but ingesting the herb extract orally (at concentrations of 0.25 to 1.0 percent of the diet by weight) showed a 3.5- to 4.5-fold increase in GST activity, which is very significant.

selenium, which promotes glutathione
peroxidase synthesis and activity

Lipoic acid increases glutathione production


Intermediate filament

Epidermal differentiation
LemonGrass !

Centella Asiatica?

** In BD, however, a suppression of transcription factors involved in cell differentiation may contribute to GABA dysfunction. \par

Cell cycle arrest
TNFα, contributing significantly to translation upregulation of these mRNAs upon cell cycle arrest
Symporter activity