April 06, 2003

Cannabis Link to Schizophrenia

The Guardian (UK) is reporting concern that increased use of stronger cannabis can lead to increased rates of schizophrenia, a concern heightened by planned decreases in criminal penalties for use in the UK.

Professor Robin Murray, who is leading the study, said his view of the drug had changed in recent years. He used to be sceptical when cannabis was blamed. 'Relatives would say "It seems to be the cannabis that makes my son or daughter or brother psychotic" and I would say, "Oh, they're being hysterical, they're just trying to look for something to blame". We've come to realise that it does have a significant effect, but it has taken us a long time to wake up to this.' [...] 'We know that for those who take the drug there is a fourfold increase in schizophrenia and a fourfold increase in the chances of suffering major depressive illness.'

I guess my question would be how we can quantify effects in illnesses that are as ill-defined as schizophrenia. It is just as likely that schizophrenic-prone individuals seek cannabis to self-medicate. As always, these studies seem to be lobbed in to affect the legal process than to aid the treatment process.

Posted by campbell at 01:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Saddam"

Rated PG. May Contain Violence.

The movie so far—

Most of the work for this production has been carried by some fine comedic talents. Information Minister al-Sahhaf provides light comic relief with his daily briefings 'Iraqi authorities however said they had repulsed an American attack from the south, claiming: "We were able to chop off their rotten heads." ' Despite the weakness in the script and the occasional worried look as he wonders if this is the appearance when he'll get his head shot off by a US sniper, al-Sahhaf does yeoman work with his lines: admitting that the airport had been taken by US troops, he gamely describes it as "the Americans' graveyard."

The irrepressible Tariq Aziz, whose game early work in "Gulf War I" guaranteed him a major supporting role in this sequel, deals masterfully with such lines as "it's best not to fight them in the desert, but to lure them into the cities and towns and to populated areas". But we barely get to see him. I suspect he is phoning in his role from Syria.

But the marquee star has barely shown up. For being mostly about "Saddam", the lead actor in this production is offscreen for most of the action. Like Harry Lime in The Third Man, we seem to spend most of our time waiting for him to show up in the story.

And when Saddam does show up finally, the staging has been weak, weak, weak. The Iraqi propaganda machine's idea of a set: a white wall and a flag. Where's the map, the model tanks, the pointers? Come on guys, I know times are hard, but even a high school production could come up with a painting of Saladin for that set. The only prop: a single TV set showing a tank. And he sits in front of it!

Those ensemble scenes with his council of war — no tension or drama, no conflict, no clash of advisors. Everyone sits around rapt as Saddam seemingly tediously details the latest episode of Friends.

And those outdoor shots! You would think that 70 years of propaganda films would have come down to something better than that stroll-around. Leni Reifenstahl must be spinning in her grave. Where are the shots of Saddam looking through binoculars? Saddam brandishing an AK-47? Saddam firmly pounding on a tank? Saddam on the steps of a palace defying the Stealth fighters? Saddam directing sandbag fortifications?

No, he walks around aimlessly — paunchy, cockeyed grin, ill-defined hand gestures. Did he have his director banished? Shot? And could they have tried to make him look shorter and more insignificant? He looks like the big-head Goofy figure at Disneyland. Not even Mickey, endowed with that awe, majesty and suave presence: Goofy.

Look guys, if this is the best you can do to rally the people, this movie is closing faster than Madonna's Swept Away.

Thumbs down.

Posted by campbell at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack