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Toxic Drums Newsletter 1    2009/09/08
This is the first newsletter ever published by Toxic Drums so it seems reasonable to have some introduction to the site and an explanation of what it is all about.

Sam Spruce First of all it is worth noting that the site is the first web site in the world to be run by a tree.  In fact the tree is also the first tree to ever have it's own web site.  This is a picture of me and I am currently quite young.  Trees are very important on planet Earth.  They absorb a huge amount of Carbon Dioxide!  They provide a lot of oxygen for other life forms too and they provide habitats for a vast array of living organisms.  In fact without trees it is unlikely humans would exist.  You can actually buy a bit of rainforest to help protect trees and other vital habitat at the World Land Trust!

The general idea of the web site is to create an interesting and diverse collection of stuff.  This can vary from lists of useful places to shop (e.g. Computer Stuff) to comments on Benetton's advertising campaigns. You can subscribe to this newsletter here.

Toxic Drums is not really definable.  It is a concept in formation and in evolution.  It is a web site.  There are a host of ideas like galactic clouds swirling around and some semblance of order is forming but to try to describe it or define it and it immediately transmogrifies and becomes something else.

It is an affiliate web site!  It is a framework in which ideas can be expressed, described, and acted out.  My current idea is that it is a space to collect all sorts of different ideas relating to humanity and life on this planet as a kind of cauldron of ideas to help improve the quality of people's lives and maybe simply to help humanity survive.

What is it that we are doing here and why are we currently facing a number of global crises?  What is religion and why do so many people ascribe to these ideas?  What is psychology about and is it just another stage in understanding humanity?  Why do we "think" we understand so much and yet we "feel" very lost and overwhelmed?  What is authenticity and "being centred" all about?  What is the Ego?  Is it just part of who we are or is it a carbuncle growing as a result of a polluted emotional environment?  Is the internet like a global neurological evolution and is the planet Earth becoming a living entity in it's own right?  How severe is the threat of global warming and how can we respond to it creatively?  Are there Aliens amongst us?  What are fractals?  Does nanotechnology offer any solutions?  Is Genetic engineering immoral?  There are too many questions and too much stuff about that relates to them.  So Toxic Drums hopes to be a pool of serendipitous connections that may just prove to be useful or at the very least entertaining and educational.

Toxic Drums is a medium with which to explore these ideas.  Toxic Drums is a think tank.  I want Toxic Drums to become a centre for mismatched ideas and emergent connections.  I want feedback and readers' ideas.  I want Toxic Drums to be part of the solution.  I want to spend my time developing and researching and producing material and I want the web site to incidentally make money so that I can carry on doing it.

At the moment there are only a few sporadic pages and attempts to dip into the vast array of subjects and ideas.  Education is central to humanity and their survival and there is a page about it called "Educating Children" with a talk by Sir Ken Robinson which is superb.  Then there is the issue of why people behave so badly in some situations (the second world war being one example) and how we so misunderstand the issues that we hardly stand any chance of improving things but Philip Zimbardo has profound insight into this subject which he illuminates in a talk at a TED conference and it is available to watch on the "I Blame the Parents" page.  Then there is a page promoting Action Aid called "Poverty is an Injustice" which talks about the history of poverty and how we seem to assume it is an inevitable part of life but it is not.  I am keen to promote charities where I feel they are doing important work like the NSPCC and the RSPB and there is a list of charities on the charities page.

There are more opinionated pages like god won't save stupid people prompted by the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks in March 2009 suggesting such.  This prompted a few other "articles" on the subject such as for god's sake lets get real and god claims he doesn't exist.  I try not to shy away from controversy because I think there is something very murky underlying our trepidation to go there.  But Toxic Drums is more than just article after article it is also a creative arena and there are pages like "Do Aliens Wear Ties" and a parody on over sincerity on the Ichthys Fish page.  There are blatantly artistic pages like the Fish page and the Surreal Keywords page.

There is health related content like "Looking After Your Body" and "Wheatgrass" and there are pages about XDR-TB and Swine Flu and some information about how selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work on the SSRI page and news about tobacco being good for your health on the Norovirus page.

Then there are pages about economics like the brilliant article by Dal Timgar on the Economic Wargames page and a page about Bill Gates and his creative capitalism.  And there is a light entertainment page about making money from thin air which reveals an interesting misconception that most of us hold.  On the subject of light entertainment there are a number of pages like the "Toxic Drums at Jazz Concert" page and stuff about Egils Straume a Latvian jazz musician which is unfinished because I have found out a heap more information about him for the next issue.  There is a page on Typoglycemia (with free software), a very silly "many shoes" page, a page with something interesting for people who like mind boggling facts and even a page called "Cheer me up!" which is an attempt to come up with some cheerful ideas.

There are book reviews ranging from the political (like Strumpet City and The Myths of Zionism) to the philosophical (like The God Delusion) and from science (Life's Other Secret and A Brief History of Time) and psychology (When Rabbit Howls and The Biology of Love) to fiction (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and The Titans Curse) and a growing list of interesting people like Dave Godin and the mad scientist Zyra.  There is a page dedicated to where you can buy computer stuff and even one with a list of places to buy ties (prompted by the aliens!).  There are lists of healthy stuff and, given the name "Toxic Drums" there is a list of toxic things which is full of varied things from toxic candy to toxic parents and there is a page on drums to satisfy the drummers who find this web site.

If you like comedians there is a page introducing Pat Condell and one on Arthur Smith (sometimes better known as Daphne Fairfax).

So although these are early days in the history of Toxic Drums I hope there is something that takes your interest in this issue.  Toxic Drums wants feed back so please email me with any thoughts or suggestions (either by replying to this newsletter or from the contact page).  Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any friends you think might appreciate it and if you are not the first recipient just email a request to go on the newsletter list or visit the newsletter page and I shall add you for next time.  All email addresses are treated with the respect you would want and you can simply request to be taken off the mailing list and it will be done.

You can help Toxic Drums by telling your friends, mentioning it on any social networks or putting links to it on your web site or blog.  Of course clicking on adverts and buying stuff helps too :o) but that should remain quite secondary to the content and you should only buy stuff if you want it.

Thanks to everybody who has supported us so far and for the good ideas and suggestions.
Wishing you all heath wealth and happiness until the next time...
Sam Spruce.

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