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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mathematics, life - and horrible patterns

Mathematics.
It can alter our very existence. Physics in it’s many guises, chemistry and biology – things unknown – all either bend before its’ strength, or bend in spite of it.

Words pale in comparison. Unless you consider the poetry of motion, the perfection of good poetry, the quest for perfection. And I once thought these things to be very separate. Perhaps that’s the nature of our lives – to contain and separate. In that way, things make sense and when they make sense, there is order – not chaos.

Some folks see patterns in things, which others refuse to look at. Patterns are built into us – or they’re built into the universe and don’t notice us at all. There’s so many contradictions in a good conspiracy theory that people caught in the intoxicating web of pattern, can’t help but wait for the spider.

I am no conspiracy lover – and mysteries I love because they exist. But there are both good mysteries and bad mysteries – like everything in this world, they are polarized. A good reporter counts only on the facts. An error in fact, after all, is an error, which calls into question other people – and the word of other people. And so I am going to pose a question based on facts. You may answer it… or not.

The question is based on the researcher in the previous article.

This particular doctor is an interesting individual in that his studies seem to cross the threshold of various disciplines. He is also interesting in that the very things he studies, seem to cross at a variety of creepy levels.

But forget about all that for a moment. Let’s concentrate on condoms. Specifically, please turn your attention to condoms as they relate to the following facts: Xaioming Li receives a $2.6 million grant to do a study on the connection between Chinese prostitutes and alcohol – all funded by the United States. The study is allegedly a five-year study, and will focus on more than 100 venues (brothels) in Guangxi.

So – back to mathematics: 100 brothels (let’s say they’re badly managed and only have 20 girls each). That’s 2000 girls. Then let’s say that during a given day, each group of 20 girls visits with ten men – that’s busy, but not crazy town. Even so, that’s 20,000 condoms a day – if you want to keep them well-supplied. That’s 500,000 condoms a month, six million a year and 30 million over five years. How much does a pack of Trojans cost at the market? Please ask yourself with what money they intend to pay the people involved in the research project – even if you’re only handing out 1/10th of the money in supplies to the locals.

Not odd enough? Consider then, Li himself. Wayne State University,  School of Medicine. Dr. Li will head the program to train prostitutes and pimps in Guangxi, China. So it’s not odd to find him connected to Psychology. Nor is it odd to find him connected to HIV/AIDS studies - and as with all coincidences, patterns form. What those patterns tell us when we are not in full possession of the facts, is a subjective individual choice. Skip back two articles in this blog and you will read about a myopic monkey. The question here, is whether the coincidences in this case, are a real pattern and what does the pattern represent?

Because Li appears to have some connections in Bethesda, Maryland (a locale long-associated with biomed research in the U.S. - much funded by the NIH, which is funding Li) – and Li’s studies have involved children, in the past – small children. In some instances, the study of the fetus and its’ mother – and chimeric cells which are exchanged between the two.

If you read further, you will find that Li’s interests involve epidemics and pandemics and how they are associated with culture and behavioral change. Previous slants for this research cross the boundaries from STD research and intervention, into mental health research.

According to a news release by the university, “The HIV/AIDS pandemic scene in East Asia is largely dominated by China. While AIDS is not considered an epidemic in China, the infection rate has risen sharply in recent years, and the potential impact of a serious outbreak would be disastrous for both China and the world’s economy.”

Acquired Immuno Deficiency Virus has no clear source. According to various theories and research, its' beginnings coincide with a variety of changes in the world. What is known as fact is that some versions of HIV very closely match SIV, which is found in some primates. The discovery of the disease in the 1980s has led to a great deal of research suggesting transmission of the first case or cases via bush-meat (hunters killing and eating infected monkeys), or inoculation programs using dirty needles in unsanitary, overpopulated environs, thus infecting large numbers of people - and remaining undiscovered until it made its' way out of the country of origin. Regardless, the disease now has spread to all corners of the globe - even China.
And so, grant money flows from the U.S. Government – and interestingly, China is willing to allow a U.S. medical study to proceed in country. Even more interesting, are some of the other headlines coming out of China. In the incidents, which have made it past government censors, in just the last eight weeks, 17 are dead and 80 wounded.
They all involve children – being murdered during multiple attacks – school children. Their attackers have in every case, been wielding knives.
And so far, there’s no explanation for the pattern.
Reasonable advice would be to simply do the math. How many crazies do you recall in recent history – all attacking a singular target group within the population – without clear motive – with no connection with each other – and with exactly the same weapon and exactly the same means and method.
How many? It does, after all, come down to simple mathematics – but mathematics as it applies to psychology, biology, chemistry, genetics – and human life itself.
Where is the real spider in this particular web? Is it a potential epidemic connected somehow to HIV in one of the most populated places on Earth – in a province known for its’ tourism and potentially a center for STDs - or is all of this just coincidence and bizarre, horrific occurrences? If it is a potential epidemic or pandemic, are the murders a disconnected product of it - or potentially a direct result. Is Li's group really there to talk to prostitutes about drinking and safe-sex or are they there to gather data and investigate a disease or social breakdown due to disease - in situ?
Answer the question or not – the choice is yours.

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