Monday, August 31, 2015

Oliver Sacks, RIP

Oliver Sacks, Greenwich Village, 1960



Telegraph (UK)


"Oliver Wolf Sacks was born on July 9 1933 into a Jewish family in Cricklewood, north London, the youngest of four sons of a pair of wealthy physicians. He had an idyllic early childhood, waited on by an army of servants and spoilt by a vast extended family of remarkable intellectual brilliance.
 ...
This idyll was rudely shattered by the outbreak of war when young Oliver, then aged six, and his elder brother Michael, were evacuated to a Midlands boarding school called Braefield. There they were subjected to a regime of unrelenting cruelty by a headmaster who was “unhinged by his own power ... vicious and sadistic”.
The experience drove his brother mad and robbed Oliver of his faith in God. He was left with a host of phobias. His response was to take refuge in the unthreatening and impersonal world of science and mathematics. One of his aunts, a botanist, took him to Kew Gardens and the Natural History Museum, where dioramas of archaic plants and ferns, including the Jurassic cycads, became his “dreamscapes”, evoking “an Eden of the remote past.”
But what really caught his imagination was chemistry. It was one of his mother’s 17 siblings, his uncle Dave (or “Uncle Tungsten”) the owner of a light bulb factory in Farringdon, who opened his nephew’s eyes to the magical world of atoms and molecules. Back home, young Oliver was given a free rein by his busy parents to conduct his own experiments.
In a makeshift laboratory in the family home, he proceeded to produce clouds of noxious-smelling chemicals, making “volcanoes” with ammonium dichromate, setting fire to the garden and, on one occasion, burning off his brother’s eyebrows. At St Paul’s School, he shared his passion with Jonathan Miller who accompanied him when on one memorable occasion he dropped 3lb of pure sodium into Highgate Ponds.
Sacks read deeply, delving into 18th and 19th-century texts to understand how the sciences had evolved. His great heroes were Humphry Davy, Marie Curie and Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table – a chemical chart which gave the young Sacks intimations of “the transcendent power of the human mind”.
But Oliver’s mother, an obstetrician-gynaecologist, was determined that her son should follow her into the medical profession and took pains to ensure that he became acquainted with anatomy by bringing home malformed foetuses for him to dissect, an exercise that filled him with revulsion. “She never perceived, I think, how distressed I became,” Sacks wrote, “and probably imagined that I was as enthusiastic as she was.”
Later, when he was 14, she arranged his first experience of dissecting a human corpse – the body of a girl . “Delight in understanding and appreciating anatomy was lost, for the most part, in the horror of the dissection,” he recalled. “I did not know if I would ever be able to love the warm, quick bodies of the living after facing, smelling and cutting the formalin-reeking corpse of a girl my own age.”  
Yet, Sacks did become interested, and went on to take degrees in Physiology, Biology and Medicine at Queen’s College, Oxford, and at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, later taking junior medical posts at the hospital.
By this time he had become fascinated by neurology and in 1960 moved to Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco to study the subject. In California he rode with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and won a state championship for weightlifting. "








Sunday, August 30, 2015

my sweet old etcetera -- e.e. cummings (1926)




my sweet old etcetera

aunt lucy during the recent



war could and what

is more did tell you just

what everybody was fighting



for,

my sister



isabel created hundreds

(and

hundreds)of socks not to

mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers



etcetera wristers etcetera, my

mother hoped that



i would die etcetera

bravely of course my father used

to become hoarse talking about how it was

a privilege and if only he

could meanwhile my



self etcetera lay quietly

in the deep mud et



cetera

(dreaming,

et

  cetera, of

Your smile

eyes knees and of your Etcetera)




Saturday, August 29, 2015

Comedy Tonight! -- Stephen Sondheim




[PSEUDOLUS]
Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Something appealing,
Something appalling,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!
Old situations,
New complications,
Nothing portentous or polite;
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!
Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Something appealing,
Something appalling,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!
Old situations,
New complications,
Nothing portentous or polite;
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!
Something convulsive,
Something repulsive,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Something aesthetic,
Something frenetic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Nothing with gods, nothing with fate;
Weighty affairs will just have to wait!
Nothing that's formal,
Nothing that's normal,
No recitations to recite;
Open up the curtain:
Comedy Tonight!
Something erratic,
Something dramatic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
Frenzy and frolic,
Strictly symbolic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!
[ENTIRE COMPANY]
Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something for everybody:
Comedy tonight!
Something that's gaudy,
Something that's bawdy--
[PSEUDOLUS]
Something for everybawdy!
[ENTIRE COMPANY]
Comedy tonight!
[MILES GLORIOSUS]
Nothing that's grim.
[DOMINA]
Nothing that's Greek.
[PSEUDOLUS]
[Indicating DOMINA:]
She plays Medea later this week.
[WOMEN]
Stunning surprises!
[MEN]
Cunning disguises!
[ALL]
Hundreds of actors out of sight!
[ERRONIUS]
Pantaloons and tunics!
[SENEX]
Courtesans and eunuchs!
[HERO]
Funerals and chases!
[LYCUS]
Baritones and basses!
[PHILIA]
Panderers!
[HERO]
Philanderers!
[HYSTERIUM]
Cupidity!
[MILES]
Timidity!
[LYCUS]
Mistakes!
[ERRONIUS]
Fakes!
[DOMINA]
Rhymes!
[PHILIA]
Crimes!
[PSEUDOLUS]
Tumblers!
Grumblers!
Bumblers!
Fumblers!
[ALL]
No royal curse, no Trojan horse,
And a happy ending, of course!
Goodness and badness,
Panic is madness--
This time it all turns out all right!
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!






Friday, August 28, 2015

A Simple Fix for Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is even a problem in France.


WSJ
"Offenders in 24/7 Sobriety can drive all they want to, but they are under a court order not to drink. Every morning and evening, for an average of five months, they visit a police facility to take a breathalyzer test. Unlike most consequences imposed by the criminal justice system, the penalties for noncompliance are swift, certain and modest. Drinking results in mandatory arrest, with a night or two in jail as the typical penalty.
The results have been stunning. Since 2005, the program has administered more than 7 million breathalyzer tests to over 30,000 participants. Offenders have both showed up and passed the test at a rate of over 99%. 
Inevitably, a few offenders try to beat the program by drinking just after a successful breathalyzer test, with the idea of not drinking too much before their next one. But people with repeat convictions for driving under the influence don’t excel at limiting themselves to “just a few beers.” They quickly learn that the best way to succeed in 24/7 Sobriety is to avoid alcohol entirely. 
The benefits of the program aren’t just confined to road safety. In a 2013 paper in the American Journal of Public Health, Beau Kilmer of the Rand Corp. and colleagues found that counties using 24/7 Sobriety experienced not only a 12% drop in repeat drunken-driving arrests but also a 9% drop in domestic-violence arrests. Unlike interventions that only constrain drinking while driving, the removal of alcohol from an offender’s life also reduces the incidence of other alcohol-related crimes. 
Why do repeat offenders change their behavior in response to relatively modest incentives? Stephen Higgins of the University of Vermont addressed this question in his pioneering work on the treatment of drug addiction. In a widely cited 1991 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry, he showed that, although his patients continued using cocaine in the face of great harm to their families, livelihoods and physical health, they could still be induced to refrain from it when promised a small reward, like $10 for a negative urine test. The reward was relatively trivial, but it was unlike other potential consequences because it was both certain and immediate.
It turns out that people with drug and alcohol problems are just like the rest of us. Their behavior is affected much more by what is definitely going to happen today than by what might or might not happen far in the future, even if the potential future consequences are more serious."








Thursday, August 27, 2015

More on creepy Army doctor John Henry Hagmann

Sanctioned: A Virginia state board revoked the license of Dr. John Hagmann (R), pictured here around 2010 teaching a course in treating battlefield trauma, citing 'abhorrent and abnormal' practices 
Yeah, that's the same guy from the photos in yesterday's post. He really let himself go.


Business Insider/Reuters
"The president of the U.S. military’s medical college said he took swift action after learning in 2013 that John Henry Hagmann, a former Army doctor teaching there, was injecting students with hypnotic drugs, inducing shock by withdrawing their blood, and performing rectal exams in class.
Hagmann was escorted off the Uniformed Services University campus in Maryland, and the college quickly offered students blood tests to determine if they had been exposed to any diseases, school President Charles Rice said.
...
But records reviewed by Reuters, including the university’s own investigation, show that school officials had known of Hagmann’s teaching methods for more than 20 years. The records also show that three faculty members sat in on Hagmann’s course in 2012 but did not alert their superiors, despite witnessing practices that the school has since banned. One former dean even pushed to have Hagmann court-martialed in 1993 over similar allegations, records show.
...
The Virginia medical board concluded in June that Hagmann, 59, exploited students he trained in 2012 and 2013 at sessions in Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Great Britain. Some of those students testified that Hagmann performed penile nerve blocks and instructed them to insert catheters into one another’s genitals.
“The evidence is so overwhelming and so bizarre as to almost shock the conscience of a prosecutor who’s been doing this for 26 years,” Assistant Attorney General Frank Pedrotty told the board in June.
Hagmann's courses in treating battlefield wounds were popular with the U.S. government, however. Since 2007, his company, Deployment Medicine International, has received at least $10.5 million in federal contracts from government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Special Forces.
... 
At the time, the medical school did not have a policy against instructors using students as test subjects. Rice said the school has since created one.
Thus, among Hagmann’s legacies, is an asterisk in the student handbook with this reminder: “School of Medicine policy prohibits instructors or medical students from requesting medical students from serving as ‘patients’ for intrusive examinations or procedures, such as a rectal or genitourinary exam.” 
Rice, who served as trauma surgeon to President George H.W. Bush, said the Hagmann matter is the most bizarre situation he has known in 40 years of government service
“He shouldn’t be a physician,” Rice said. “He lost his compass somewhere.”"



 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Former Army doctor accused of all sorts of weird stuff

Army doctor suspended over bizarre, drug-fueled penis procedures
Who says you can't judge a man by his creepy moustache?










"Since retiring from the U.S. Army in 2000, Dr. John Henry Hagmann has helped train thousands of soldiers and medical personnel in how to treat battlefield wounds. His company, Deployment Medicine International, has received more than $10.5 million in business from the federal government.
The taxpayer-funded training has long troubled animal rights activists, who contend that Hagmann’s use of live, wounded pigs to simulate combat injuries is unnecessarily cruel.
But an investigation by Virginia medical authorities alleges that pigs weren’t the doctor’s only training subjects.
During instructional sessions in 2012 and 2013 for military personnel, Hagmann gave trainees drugs and liquor, and directed them to perform macabre medical procedures on one another, according to a report issued by the Virginia Board of Medicine, the state agency that oversees the conduct of doctors.
Hagmann, 59, is accused of inappropriately providing at least 10 students with the hypnotic drug ketamine. The report alleges Hagmann told students to insert catheters into the genitals of other trainees and that two intoxicated student were subjected to penile nerve block procedures. Hagmann also is accused of conducting “shock labs,” a process in which he withdrew blood from the students, monitored them for shock, and then transfused the blood back into their systems.
The report alleges that Hagmann also “exploited, for personal gain and sexual gratification,” two participants who attended a July 2013 course at his Virginia farm.
...
In one case detailed by investigators, Virginia authorities allege that Hagmann boasted to a student “about his proficiency with rectal exams” and took the student to a warehouse on his property. There, the report claims, the two “continued to consume beer” and Hagmann asked the student “about the effect (the student’s) uncircumcised penis had on masturbation and sexual intercourse.” The student told investigators “that he was inebriated and felt that he could not refuse Dr. Hagmann’s request … to examine, manipulate and photograph his penis.” 
In his statement to Reuters, Hagmann connected his comments on circumcision to his live-tissue trauma training course this way: “The debate on the value and impact of circumcision is a current medical and social issue. The historical link between circumcision and masturbation is a fact dating since Victorian England and is still a current topic subject to scientific research.”
The Virginia medical board report also says Hagmann conducted what board investigators described as “ketamine labs,” “alcohol labs” and “cognition labs.” The labs, officials wrote, “involved the dosing of ketamine and consumption of alcohol, at times in combination or in quick succession, so that he (Hagmann) could assess the effects of these substances on their cognition.”

During a July 2013 course in North Carolina, authorities say, participants were provided eight shots of rum in 10 minutes. About an hour later, they were allegedly injected with ketamine. Officials allege that one intoxicated participant received a penile nerve block, a type of anesthesia. When other students stepped in to prevent a second intoxicated student from receiving the procedure, the report says, Hagmann volunteered himself, and students performed a penile nerve block on him.
“I have been working in trauma centers for 30 years and I have never done a penile nerve block,” said Dr. Mark Brown, an emergency room physician in Lancaster, California. “And why would you ever mix alcohol and drugs? It’s very puzzling.” 











Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Middle-aged college professors from Virginia can be heroes, too!

Mark Moogalian
Prof. Mark Moogalian, 51, from Midlothian, Va. Apparently he teaches English at the Sorbonne.


Telegraph (UK)


"Mr Moogalian, who lives in Paris but is originally from Midlothian, Virginia, US, is the previously unnamed man who came to the aid of “Damien A”, 28, a French banker who confronted El-Khazzani.
The academic acted instinctively to protect his wife Isabella Risacher, who was also aboard the Thalys train.
He tackled the Kalashnikov assault rifle off El-Khazzani, who then drew a sidearm and shot him in the neck before taking back the rifle, his sister has revealed.
Three other US citizens including two military personnel, and Chris Norman, a British businessman then stepped in to disarm and overpower the assailant.
Mr Moogalian’s sister Julia said: “He made sure his wife was hidden behind a seat. She watched the whole thing happen.
“He did manage to get the weapon away from the gunman.
“But the gunman then pulled another gun and shot my brother.



"There's a video of him saying 'help me' - he thought he was losing so much blood he would die.
"He's in extremely good shape - he cycles miles and runs - so we think that stood him well for this.
"The French President has reached out to ask him to come to dinner when he is fit enough."
The academic, a keen musician and cyclist, was shot in the back of the neck and the bullet passed through his body causing nerve damage, his sister said."












Monday, August 24, 2015

Dallas Neurosurgeon charged with intentionally botching surgeries



When explaining the Freudian ego defense mechanism of sublimation, I often use the example of a person who has a strong instinctual desire to pierce human flesh with sharp metal objects becoming a surgeon instead of a serial killer. Seems like this neurosurgeon's defenses let him down.




Dallas Morning News
"Long before he faced lawsuits and criminal charges, a North Texas neurosurgeon emailed one of his employees.
“I am ready to leave the love and kindness and goodness and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold blooded killer,” Christopher Duntsch wrote.
To authorities, the chilling Dec. 11, 2011, email points to Duntsch’s mind-set in the months before he “intentionally, knowingly and recklessly” botched spinal surgeries, severely injuring four people and killing one woman, Floella Brown, who died in July 2012.
...
Dallas police said in a search warrant affidavit that he is also under investigation in the botching of at least 10 other patients’ surgeries in Plano and Dallas that occurred from November 2011 through June 2013. Duntsch “knowingly takes actions that place the patients’ lives at risk,” police said, such as causing extreme blood loss by cutting a major vein and then not taking proper steps to correct it."




Sunday, August 23, 2015

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day -- Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)





I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoĆ¼rs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
    With witness I speak this. But where I say        5
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
 
  I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;        10
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
  Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.











Saturday, August 22, 2015

It Ain't Necessarily So -- Peggy Lee (1956)





It ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
The things that you're liable
To read in the Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.

Now david was small but oh my
Little david was small but oh my
He fought big goliath
Who lay down and dieth
David was small but oh my.

Moses was found on a stream
Moses was found on a stream
He floated on water
Till Ol' Pharaoh's daughter,
Fished him she says from that stream

To get into heaven,
don't snap for a second
Live clean forget your faults
I take the gospel
whenever it's possible
But with a grain of salt

Methuselah lived 900 years
Methuselah lived 900 years
Who calls that livin'
When no gal will give in
To no man what's 900 years

It ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
The things that you're liable
To read in the Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.





Friday, August 21, 2015

Why people get bored -- Schopenhauer

"I'm trying, futilely, to flee from my internal emptiness. Where are you going?"


"People need external activity because they have no internal activity. Where, on the contrary, the latter does exist, the former is likely to be a very troublesome, indeed execrable annoyance and impediment. -- The former fact also explains the restlessness of those who have nothing to do, and their aimless travelling. What drives them from country to country is the same boredom which at home drives them together into such crowds and heaps -- it is funny to see. I once received a choice confirmation of this truth from a gentleman of 50 with whom I was not acquainted, who told me about a two-year pleasure trip he had taken to distant lands and strange parts of the earth. When I remarked that he must have endured many difficulties, hardships and dangers, he replied very naively, without hesitation or preamble but as if merely enunciating the conclusion of a syllogism: 'I wasn't bored for an instant.'"


-- Arthur Schopehauer, Essays and Aphorisms







Thursday, August 20, 2015

Smiling more at the weigh-in predicts losing your UFC bout



Guess who's going to win?







BPS Digest
"The day before mixed martial artists compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), they pose with each other in a staged face-off. A new study has analysed photographs taken at dozens of these pre-fight encounters and found that competitors who smile are more likely to lose the match the next day (pdf via author website).
Michael Kraus and Teh-Way David Chen recruited four coders (blind to the aims of the study) to assess the presence of smiles, and smile intensity, in photographs taken of 152 fighters in 76 face-offs. Fighter smiles were mostly "non-Duchenne", with little or no crinkling around the eyes. Data on the fights was then obtained from official UFC statistics. The researchers wanted to test the idea that in this context, smiles are an involuntary signal of submission and lack of aggression, just as teeth baring is in the animal kingdom.
Consistent with the researchers' predictions, fighters who smiled more intensely prior to a fight were more likely to lose, to be knocked down in the clash, to be hit more times, and to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent (statistically speaking, the effect sizes here were small to medium). On the other hand, fighters with neutral facial expressions pre-match were more likely to excel and dominate in the fight the next day, including being more likely to win by knock-out or submission.
These associations between facial expression and fighting performance held even after controlling for betting behaviour by fans, which suggests a fighter's smile reveals information about their lack of aggression beyond what is known by experts. [Yes, but the underdogs tended to be the bigger smilers -- betting on the favorites is a better strategy than betting against the smilers.] Moreover, the psychological meaning of a pre-match smile appeared to be specific to that fight - no associations were found between pre-match smiles and performance in later, unrelated fights. Incidentally, smaller fighters smiled more often, consistent with the study's main thesis, but smiling was still linked with poorer fight performance after factoring out the role of size (in other words, smiling was more than just an indicator of physical inferiority).
 ...
Of course, the researchers are only speculating about what's going on inside the minds of the fighters pre-match. It's even possible that some of them smile in an attempt to convey insouciance. If so, Kraus and Chen said "it is clear that this nonverbal behaviour had the opposite of the desired effect - fighters were more hostile and aggressive during the match toward their more intensely smiling opponents." 
_________________________________
Kraus, M., and Chen, T. (2013). A Winning Smile? Smile Intensity, Physical Dominance, and Fighter Performance. Emotion DOI: 10.1037/a0030745

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mario Vargas Llosa, Notes on the Death of Culture

Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize recipient, author of Notes on the Death of Culture


Irish Times
"Vargas Llosa adopts a name for this age of ours coined by the French Marxist theorist Guy Debord. We live in the Society of the Spectacle. A name that recalls the bread and circuses offered to a debased populace in the declining Roman empire. Exploited by the blind forces of rampant consumerism, we are reduced to being spectators of our own lives rather than actors in them.

Our sensibilities, indeed our very humanity, is blunted by those who traditionally saw their role as the guardians of it.
The intellectuals, the supine media, the political class have abandoned substance and discrimination and with treacherous enthusiasm adopted the idea of the image as truth. The liberal revolution of the 1960s, especially the events of 1968 in France, and French theorists such as Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard come in for a lot of invective. They have turned culture into “an obscurantist game for self-regarding academics and intellectuals who have turned their backs on society”.
Meanwhile the masses exist, docile and passive, in a world of appearances, reduced to no more than the audience in a kind of tawdry theatre where scenes shift from violence to inanity before our bored and brutalised gaze. Rock stars are given more credence than politicians, comedians are the new philosophers. Lifestyle merchants such as cooks and gardeners are revered as writers once were. It’s a sad and hopeless devolution from what we used to have and used to be.
Vargas Llosa is pessimistic about the survival of literature, which is to say books that aren’t primarily entertainment or pragmatic. He’s pessimistic about how a society can live without coherent religious belief (although he himself can) and not fall into despair, about our abandonment of the concept of privacy. To put the inner self on public display in the way we’re expected to do is to revert to barbarism.
And the most cultured countries are the most guilty. We will decline – like many a civilization before us? – having squandered our inheritance, “this delicate substance” that has taken millennia to develop and imparted sense, content and order to our lives. The words “inanity”, “idiocy” and “banality” appear again and again in Vargas Llosa’s discourse. And when the extraordinary and wondrous resource of the internet is experienced by so many people only via the inanities of social media, who can argue with him?"




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reading great writers extends our capacity for "serious noticing" -- James Woods





The Nation
"James Wood, the New Yorker book critic and a professor of the practice of literary criticism at Harvard, charts his own journey through the literature he most admires in his new book The Nearest Thing to Life, a compilation of lectures delivered at Brandeis University. ...While his title, borrowed from an essay by George Eliot in which she calls art the “nearest thing to life,” points to the intimate connection between the two, it also reminds us that art is not life. .... For Wood, the thrill of reading fiction is intimately connected with the awareness that fiction constitutes “an utterly free space, where anything might be thought, anything uttered.” The excitement comes when, as readers, we’re allowed to participate in this freedom and experience the fiction imaginatively, without being required to believe that it is true.              
Wood has made a career out of reading literature and clearly loves what he does. He loves the way that literature changes how we think about our own lives. He loves its ability “to bring meaning, color, and life back to the most ordinary things.” He is not all that interested in ranking books; what he aims to do as a critic, he explains, is to offer “passionate redescription” of the books he admires most. Bellow, Chekhov, John Berger, Tolstoy, D.H. Lawrence, Aleksandar Hemon, Elizabeth Bishop—they and others are singled out by Wood for their ability to awaken us from the deadening “sleep of our attention.”
Great writers extend our capacity for “serious noticing,” Wood says. We learn to look more closely at our world by reading artful descriptions of fictional worlds. For Wood, literature provides a crucial education, and in this short book, packed with insight, he identifies the rewards of skillful, careful reading. He ignores, however, the mounting evidence that serious reading is in serious danger of being lost to future generations."











Monday, August 17, 2015

Our Aging Inmates

How about automatic consideration for supervised parole at age 55? If the prisons are full of old guys, then there won't be any room for the young, active, and dangerous habitual felons who should be locked up.





WaPo
"Today, prisoners 50 and older represent the fastest-growing population in crowded federal correctional facilities, their ranks having swelled by 25 percent to nearly 31,000 from 2009 to 2013. 
Some prisons have needed to set up geriatric wards, while others have effectively been turned into convalescent homes.

The aging of the prison population is driving health-care costs being borne by American taxpayers. The Bureau of Prisons saw health-care expenses for inmates increase 55 percent from 2006 to 2013, when it spent more than $1 billion. That figure is nearly equal to the entire budget of the U.S. Marshals Service or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general, who is conducting a review of the impact of the aging inmate population on prison activities, housing and costs.
Our federal prisons are starting to resemble nursing homes surrounded with razor wire,” said Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “It makes no sense fiscally, or from the perspective of human compassion, to incarcerate men and women who pose no threat to public safety and have long since paid for their crime. We need to repeal the absurd mandatory minimum sentences that keep them there.”"








Sunday, August 16, 2015

Macbeth -- Act II, scene 2


  • Macbeth. This is a sorry sight. 675
[Looking on his hands]
  • Macbeth. There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried
    'Murder!'
    That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them: 680
    But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
    Again to sleep.
  • Macbeth. One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;
    As they had seen me with these hangman's hands. 685
    Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'
    When they did say 'God bless us!'
  • Macbeth. But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?
    I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen' 690
    Stuck in my throat.
  • Lady Macbeth. These deeds must not be thought
    After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
  • Macbeth. Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
    Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep, 695
    Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
    The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
    Chief nourisher in life's feast,—
  • Macbeth. Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:
    'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
    Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'
  • Lady Macbeth. Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
    You do unbend your noble strength, to think 705
    So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
    And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
    Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
    They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
    The sleepy grooms with blood. 710
  • Macbeth. I'll go no more:
    I am afraid to think what I have done;
    Look on't again I dare not.
  • Lady Macbeth. Infirm of purpose!
    Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead 715
    Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
    That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
    I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
    For it must seem their guilt.
[Exit. Knocking within]
  • Macbeth. Whence is that knocking?
    How is't with me, when every noise appals me?
    What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
    Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
    Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather 725
    The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
    Making the green one red. 



Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Want You Back -- Jackson 5 (1971)






Uh-huh huh huhhh
Let me tell ya now
Uh-huh
(Mmhhmmm)

When I had you to myself, I didn't want you around
Those pretty faces always made you stand out in a crowd
But someone picked you from the bunch, one glance was all it took
Now it's much too late for me to take a second look

Oh baby, give me one more chance
(To show you that I love you)
Won't you please let me back in your heart
Oh darlin', I was blind to let you go
(Let you go, baby)
But now since I see you in his arms
(I want you back)
Yes I do now
(I want you back)
Ooh ooh baby
(I want you back)
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(I want you back)
Na na na na

Trying to live without your love is one long sleepless night
Let me show you, girl, that I know wrong from right
Every street you walk on, I leave tear stains on the ground
Following the girl I didn't even want around

Let me tell ya now
Oh baby, all I need is one more chance
(To show you that I love you)
Won't you please let me back in your heart
Oh darlin', I was blind to let you go
(Let you go, baby)
But now since I see you in his arms

All I want...
All I need...
All I want!
All I need!

Oh, just one more chance
To show you that I love you
Baby baby baby baby baby baby!
(I want you back)
Forget what happened then
(I want you back)
And let me live again!

Oh baby, I was blind to let you go
But now since I see you in his arms
(I want you back)
Spare me of this cause
(I want you back)
Give me back what I lost!

Oh baby, I need one more chance, hah
I tell you that I love you
Baby, oh! Baby, oh! Baby, oh!
I want you back!
I want you back!
[Fade out]




 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Iliad, Book X (the murder of Dolon) -- Alexander Pope, trans.



A youth there was among the tribes of Troy,
Dolon his name, Eumedes' only boy,
(Five girls beside the reverend herald told.)
Rich was the son in brass, and rich in gold;
Not bless'd by nature with the charms of face,
But swift of foot, and matchless in the race.
"Hector! (he said) my courage bids me meet
This high achievement, and explore the fleet:
But first exalt thy sceptre to the skies,
And swear to grant me the demanded prize;
The immortal coursers, and the glittering car,
That bear Pelides through the ranks of war.
Encouraged thus, no idle scout I go,
Fulfil thy wish, their whole intention know,
Even to the royal tent pursue my way,
And all their counsels, all their aims betray."
The chief then heaved the golden sceptre high,
Attesting thus the monarch of the sky:
"Be witness thou! immortal lord of all!
Whose thunder shakes the dark aerial hall:
By none but Dolon shall this prize be borne,
And him alone the immortal steeds adorn."
Thus Hector swore: the gods were call'd in vain,
But the rash youth prepares to scour the plain:
Across his back the bended bow he flung,
A wolf's grey hide around his shoulders hung,
A ferret's downy fur his helmet lined,
And in his hand a pointed javelin shined.
Then (never to return) he sought the shore,
And trod the path his feet must tread no more.
Scarce had he pass'd the steeds and Trojan throng,
(Still bending forward as he coursed along,)
When, on the hollow way, the approaching tread
Ulysses mark'd, and thus to Diomed;
"O friend! I hear some step of hostile feet,
Moving this way, or hastening to the fleet;
Some spy, perhaps, to lurk beside the main;
Or nightly pillager that strips the slain.
Yet let him pass, and win a little space;
Then rush behind him, and prevent his pace.
But if too swift of foot he flies before,
Confine his course along the fleet and shore,
Betwixt the camp and him our spears employ,
And intercept his hoped return to Troy."
With that they stepp'd aside, and stoop'd their head,
(As Dolon pass'd,) behind a heap of dead:
Along the path the spy unwary flew;
Soft, at just distance, both the chiefs pursue.
So distant they, and such the space between,
As when two teams of mules divide the green,
(To whom the hind like shares of land allows,)
When now new furrows part the approaching ploughs.
Now Dolon, listening, heard them as they pass'd;
Hector (he thought) had sent, and check'd his haste,
Till scarce at distance of a javelin's throw,
No voice succeeding, he perceived the foe.
As when two skilful hounds the leveret wind;
Or chase through woods obscure the trembling hind;
Now lost, now seen, they intercept his way,
And from the herd still turn the flying prey:
So fast, and with such fears, the Trojan flew;
So close, so constant, the bold Greeks pursue.
Now almost on the fleet the dastard falls,
And mingles with the guards that watch the walls;
When brave Tydides stopp'd; a gen'rous thought
(Inspired by Pallas) in his bosom wrought,
Lest on the foe some forward Greek advance,
And snatch the glory from his lifted lance.
Then thus aloud: "Whoe'er thou art, remain;
This javelin else shall fix thee to the plain."
He said, and high in air the weapon cast,
Which wilful err'd, and o'er his shoulder pass'd;
Then fix'd in earth. Against the trembling wood
The wretch stood propp'd, and quiver'd as he stood;
A sudden palsy seized his turning head;
His loose teeth chatter'd, and his colour fled;
The panting warriors seize him as he stands,
And with unmanly tears his life demands.
"O spare my youth, and for the breath I owe,
Large gifts of price my father shall bestow:
Vast heaps of brass shall in your ships be told,
And steel well-temper'd and refulgent gold."
To whom Ulysses made this wise reply:
"Whoe'er thou art, be bold, nor fear to die.
What moves thee, say, when sleep has closed the sight,
To roam the silent fields in dead of night?
Cam'st thou the secrets of our camp to find,
By Hector prompted, or thy daring mind?
Or art some wretch by hopes of plunder led,
Through heaps of carnage, to despoil the dead?"
Then thus pale Dolon, with a fearful look:
(Still, as he spoke, his limbs with horror shook:)
"Hither I came, by Hector's words deceived;
Much did he promise, rashly I believed:
No less a bribe than great Achilles' car,
And those swift steeds that sweep the ranks of war,
Urged me, unwilling, this attempt to make;
To learn what counsels, what resolves you take:
If now subdued, you fix your hopes on flight,
And, tired with toils, neglect the watch of night."
"Bold was thy aim, and glorious was the prize,
(Ulysses, with a scornful smile, replies,)
Far other rulers those proud steeds demand,
And scorn the guidance of a vulgar hand;
Even great Achilles scarce their rage can tame,
Achilles sprung from an immortal dame.
But say, be faithful, and the truth recite!
Where lies encamp'd the Trojan chief to-night?
Where stand his coursers? in what quarter sleep
Their other princes? tell what watch they keep:
Say, since this conquest, what their counsels are;
Or here to combat, from their city far,
Or back to Ilion's walls transfer the war?"
Ulysses thus, and thus Eumedes' son:
"What Dolon knows, his faithful tongue shall own.
Hector, the peers assembling in his tent,
A council holds at Ilus' monument.
No certain guards the nightly watch partake;
Where'er yon fires ascend, the Trojans wake:
Anxious for Troy, the guard the natives keep;
Safe in their cares, the auxiliar forces sleep,
Whose wives and infants, from the danger far,
Discharge their souls of half the fears of war."
"Then sleep those aids among the Trojan train,
(Inquired the chief,) or scattered o'er the plain?"
To whom the spy: "Their powers they thus dispose
The Paeons, dreadful with their bended bows,
The Carians, Caucons, the Pelasgian host,
And Leleges, encamp along the coast.
Not distant far, lie higher on the land
The Lycian, Mysian, and Maeonian band,
And Phrygia's horse, by Thymbras' ancient wall;
The Thracians utmost, and apart from all.
These Troy but lately to her succour won,
Led on by Rhesus, great Eioneus' son:
I saw his coursers in proud triumph go,
Swift as the wind, and white as winter-snow;
Rich silver plates his shining car infold;
His solid arms, refulgent, flame with gold;
No mortal shoulders suit the glorious load,
Celestial panoply, to grace a god!
Let me, unhappy, to your fleet be borne,
 
Or leave me here, a captive's fate to mourn,
In cruel chains, till your return reveal
The truth or falsehood of the news I tell."
To this Tydides, with a gloomy frown:
"Think not to live, though all the truth be shown:
Shall we dismiss thee, in some future strife
To risk more bravely thy now forfeit life?
Or that again our camps thou may'st explore?
No—once a traitor, thou betray'st no more."
Sternly he spoke, and as the wretch prepared
With humble blandishment to stroke his beard,
Like lightning swift the wrathful falchion flew,
Divides the neck, and cuts the nerves in two;
One instant snatch'd his trembling soul to hell,
The head, yet speaking, mutter'd as it fell.
The furry helmet from his brow they tear,
The wolf's grey hide, the unbended bow and spear;
These great Ulysses lifting to the skies,
To favouring Pallas dedicates the prize:
"Great queen of arms, receive this hostile spoil,
And let the Thracian steeds reward our toil;
Thee, first of all the heavenly host, we praise;
O speed our labours, and direct our ways!"
This said, the spoils, with dropping gore defaced,
High on a spreading tamarisk he placed;
Then heap'd with reeds and gathered boughs the plain,
To guide their footsteps to the place again.