Friday, October 31, 2014

Leo Strauss on Churchill

Spontaneous Remarks Made by Leo Strauss, on Hearing of the Death of Churchill
"The death of Churchill is a healthy reminder to academic students of political science of their limitations, the limitations of their craft.
The tyrant stood at the pinnacle of his power.
The contrast between the indomitable and magnanimous statesman and the insane tyrant—this spectacle in its clear simplicity was one of the greatest lessons which men can learn, at any time.
No less enlightening is the lesson conveyed by Churchill’s failure which is too great to be called tragedy. I mean the fact that Churchill’s heroic action on behalf of human freedom against Hitler only contributed, through no fault of Churchill’s, to increase the threat to freedom which is posed by Stalin or his successors. Churchill did the utmost that a man could do to counter that threat—publicly and most visibly in Greece and in Fulton, Missouri. Not a whit less important than his deeds and speeches are his writings, above all his Marlborough—the greatest historical work written in our century, an inexhaustible mine of political wisdom and understanding, which should be required reading for every student of political science.
The death of Churchill reminds us of the limitations of our craft, and therewith of our duty. We have no higher duty, and no more pressing duty, than to remind ourselves and our students, of political greatness, human greatness, of the peaks of human excellence. For we are supposed to train ourselves and others in seeing things as they are, and this means above all in seeing their greatness and their misery, their excellence and their vileness, their nobility and their triumphs, and therefore never to mistake mediocrity, however brilliant, for true greatness."
In class, at the University of Chicago
January 25, 1965

First of all, I can't even imagine ever saying anything so brilliant in class, extemporaneously or not. (For more brilliant off-the-cuff remarks, see here for transcript and here for video.) Second, I wonder how many Political Science departments ensure that all of their graduates read Churchill's life of Marlborough. (My guess is none.) If they did, maybe the unemployment rate for political science majors wouldn't be so high? Lastly, "training students to see things as they are, and not how they wish them to be," could serve as an excellent mission statement for a department of psychology. I feel a bit chagrined that students don't hear so much about "human greatness" in my classes -- but we are a bit more focused on the seamy undersides of things in Abnormal and Forensics.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"The Horrible Effectiveness of Flamethrowers"

An M-4 Sherman tank fires its flamethrower on Iwo Jima (National Archives)

Real Clear Defense
"During World War II, all sides used flamethrowers, including the U.S. Marine Corps. During the “island hopping” campaigns of the Pacific Theater, many Marines believed flamethrowers made the difference between their lives and death.
We could not have taken the island without the flamethrower,” said Bill Henderson, a Marine Corps veteran who fought on Iwo Jima, in a Marine Corps oral history of the battle. “It saved lives because it did not require men to go into caves, which were all booby-trapped and promised certain death to all who entered.”
The Marines’ M2 flamethrowers were heavy and cumbersome, making it difficult to run when wearing the device. The unit also made the Marine a high-value target—easy to see and easy to shoot.
One Marine Corps flamethrower unit on Iwo Jima had a 92-percent casualty rate—leading a military statistician to estimate the average lifespan on the battlefield of a Marine flamethrower operator at four minutes.
Later, the Marines adapted flamethrower units to the Sherman tank, reducing the number of times that an individual operator had to expose himself to enemy fire on the battlefield.
When soft-hearted Americans protested the use of flame weapons against the Japanese, Gen. George C. Marshall, then chief of staff of the Army, defended them. “The vehement protests I am receiving against our use of flamethrowers do not indicate an understanding of the meaning of our dead.”
During the Vietnam War, for better or worse flamethrowers and other incendiary weapons became widely regarded as inhumane weapons of war. In 1978, the Defense Department issued a directive that ceased the tactical use of flamethrowers and their further development.
However, no international agreement bans flamethrowers.
From 1999 to 2000, the Russians employed flamethrowers against Chechen rebel forces during the battle for Grozny. Russian tacticians concluded that the flamethrower was effective as much for its psychological effect as its ability to flush insurgents or snipers out of enclosed or fortified positions.
The Russian use of flamethrowers was also one reason why in 2003 the United Nations declared Grozny the most devastated city on the planet."

Grozny, 2003

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Man Goes Missing at Broncos Game -- Update

So...has he seen Gone Girl?

UPDATE: They found him:
The Denver man who disappeared during last week's Broncos game told police he had "his fill of football" and walked and hitchhiked about 130 miles to a city in southern Colorado.
The department posted on its Twitter page that 53-year-old Paul Kitterman, of Kremmling, Colo., had been located in Pueblo, Colo., approximately 110 miles south of Denver. No details were immediately released of how Kitterman was found or how he had managed to travel that distance over the previous five days. 
Denver Police Sgt. Steve Warneke told the Associated Press that no criminal charges are expected.
"All we were trying to do was make sure he was unharmed, and he was," Warneke said. "So at that point, we're finished." Police referred all other questions to Kitterman's family.

Original article from 2 days ago (NESN):
"Family and friends are searching for a Colorado man who hasn’t been seen since he left his seat at halftime of Thursday night’s San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Paul Kitterman, a 53-year-old from Kremmling, Colo., attended the game with his son, Jarod, and two friends, Tia Bakke and her boyfriend Tim Ust, according to KUSA-TV. The four traveled to the game together, which is about a two-hour drive, but Kitterman did not drive. In addition to not having a car at the stadium, Kitterman was not carrying a cell phone or credit cards, and had just $50 cash on him, Bakke said.
“He’s absolutely nowhere to be found,” Bakke said. “It’s been the longest, (most) miserable three days of our lives.”
Paul and Jarod had seats in a different part of the stadium from Bakke and Ust. They met up at halftime but said that was the last time they saw him, as Jarod said his father never returned to his seat. After the game, friends and family “scoured the stadium and called security and police, in addition to jails and hospitals in the area,” KUSA-TV reported.
Bakke added that Paul doesn’t have any issues with drugs or alcohol, nor any medical problems.
The Kitterman family has filed a missing persons report with the Denver Police Department, but investigators say they have no reason to suspect foul play, according to KDRV-TV."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wittgenstein's Forgotten Lesson -- Ray Monk (1999)

Prospect Magazine
"One of the crucial differences between the method of science and the non-theoretical understanding that is exemplified in music, art, philosophy and ordinary life, is that science aims at a level of generality which necessarily eludes these other forms of understanding. This is why the understanding of people can never be a science. To understand a person is to be able to tell, for example, whether he means what he says or not, whether his expressions of feeling are genuine or feigned. And how does one acquire this sort of understanding? Wittgenstein raises this question at the end of Philosophical Investigations. “Is there,” he asks, “such a thing as ‘expert judgment’ about the genuineness of expressions of feeling?” Yes, he answers, there is.
But the evidence upon which such expert judgments about people are based is “imponderable,” resistant to the general formulation characteristic of science. “Imponderable evidence,” Wittgenstein writes, “includes subtleties of glance, of gesture, of tone. I may recognise a genuine loving look, distinguish it from a pretended one… But I may be quite incapable of describing the difference… If I were a very talented painter I might conceivably represent the genuine and simulated glance in pictures.”
But the fact that we are dealing with imponderables should not mislead us into believing that all claims to understand people are spurious. When Wittgenstein was once discussing his favourite novel, The Brothers Karamazov, with Maurice Drury, Drury said that he found the character of Father Zossima impressive. Of Zossima, Dostoevsky writes: “It was said that… he had absorbed so many secrets, sorrows, and avowals into his soul that in the end he had acquired so fine a perception that he could tell at the first glance from the face of a stranger what he had come for, what he wanted and what kind of torment racked his conscience.” “Yes,” said Wittgenstein, “there really have been people like that, who could see directly into the souls of other people and advise them.”
“An inner process stands in need of outward criteria,” runs one of the most often quoted aphorisms of Philosophical Investigations. It is less often realised what emphasis Wittgenstein placed on the need for sensitive perception of those “outward criteria” in all their imponderability. And where does one find such acute sensitivity? Not, typically, in the works of psychologists, but in those of the great artists, musicians and novelists. “People nowadays,” Wittgenstein writes in Culture and Value, “think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them-that does not occur to them.”"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mentally ill visitors to the White House

On September 11, 2014 this fellow jumped the White House fence, holding a Pikachu doll and dressed in Pokémon garb. Good thing the Secret Service got the machine guns and killer dogs out. How long until they kill one of these mentally ill people? On October 24, 2014, Dominic Adesanya was bitten multiple times by these dogs; he was unarmed and apparently is a paranoid schizophrenic. For psychiatric reasons, he was found incompetent to stand trial.

"[In 1835,] Richard Lawrence, an unemployed housepainter who earlier that year had twice visited the White House asking to speak to President Andrew Jackson. On his second visit, he was admitted, met Jackson, and asked him for $1,000. The president said he was busy and Lawrence was sent away. A week later, Lawrence approached Jackson as he was leaving a funeral and fired two pistols at him. Both guns misfired, and the enraged Jackson charged the gunman and began beating him with his cane. Lawrence later told police that the president had killed his father. He also claimed to be King Richard III. At his trial, it took the jury five minutes to find Lawrence not guilty by reason of insanity, and he spent the next 20 years at various asylums before he was eventually transferred to the newly opened Government Hospital for the Insane, now known as St Elizabeth's.
Over the next century and a half, St. Elizabeth’s became a temporary home for thousands of disturbed people who travelled from all over the country to deliver a warning, offer policy advice, or seek redress of grievance with the president, or another high official, in person. To security personnel and psychiatrists alike, they’re known as White House cases. Although they include would-be assassins such as Lawrence and John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan in 1981, the vast majority aren’t armed or violent. In a 1943 study of White House cases, Dr. Jay Hoffman noted, “It is the rule that these patients are, with certain notable exceptions, quiet, pleasant, congenial, cooperative and well-behaved. They accept their enforced hospitalization with a remarkable degree of passivity and frequently without even verbal complaint.”
Typical cases have remained strikingly similar over the years. “People usually go to the White House to tell the president what God is telling them or to warn of some impending disaster,” says psychiatrist David Shore, who worked at St. Elizabeth’s in the 1970s and 80s. “In some cases, they think that they have come up with a great invention or performed some great deed and expect to be rewarded.”
Most are schizophrenic. Some are experiencing a temporary psychotic episode. A few are on drugs. The basic motivation—to accomplish great things or avert great danger by going right to the top—seems to have remained the same throughout the decades, although over the years, specific concerns have shifted. Case studies by a number of researchers provide snapshots both of the historical period in which they occurred, and of the delusions associated with them. Many of Hoffman’s patients came to Washington to complain about pensions owed them from service in the First World War, to advise the president on how to steer the country out of the Depression, or to warn him about Nazi plots. After John F. Kennedy took office, women arrived claiming that they were his wife, and after he was shot, men came announcing that they were Jackie Kennedy’s husband. In a 1965 paper, Dr. Joseph Sebastiani reported that a 44-year-old woman came to the White House in 1963 because “she hoped the president would stop the police persecution that had caused her ears to flop and her body to go out of shape.” After news of President Reagan’s polyp surgery in 1987, one man came to offer him a nutritional cure-all, dressed as Hitler." 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

London -- William Blake (1794)

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. 
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every black'ning Church appalls, 
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls 

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Loves You Porgy -- Nina Simone (1958)

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
And drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
And I'll be glad

Yes I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
With his hot hands
If you can keep me
I wants to stay here with you forever
I've got my man

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
And drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
I've got my man

Someday I know he's coming to call me
He's going to handle me and hold me
So, it' going to be like dying, Porgy
When he calls me
But when he comes I know I'll have to go

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Honey, don't let him handle me
and drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
I've got my man

Friday, October 24, 2014

The CIA's Drone Queens

"When President Barack Obama went to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to be briefed on drone operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he was taken aback by the number of female spies directing the agency’s secret killing program.
A week later, the CIA’s top expert on Pakistan was summoned to the Oval Office. She was strikingly attractive in her stiletto heels. “You don’t look like a Pakistan expert,” the president told her, breaking into a grin. [And proving that Clinton isn't the only President to practice sexual harassment.]
Obama was mistaken: the expert was typical of the new generation of CIA officers. Many are women in their thirties with a decade or more of experience in hunting down terrorists and vaporizing them with Hellfire missiles.
The CIA is now almost 50% female. Its director is a man but the next three posts below him are filled by women. They are instrumental in waging the CIA’s anti-terrorist war, playing a disproportionate role in some of the most lethal and morally ambiguous tasks of an organization that has long been regarded as a bastion of outdated machismo.
More enlightened employment practices have contributed to this. But could it be, as some senior intelligence officers argue, that the true-life drone queens are simply better than men at stalking terrorists and deciding when and how they should die?
“IT’S a reality,” said Bruce Riedel, who spent 29 years in the CIA and later became an adviser to Obama. “Girl power. That’s what they call it within the CIA.” Women, he posited, tend to be better “at seeing connections than most of their male counterparts” when they are dealing with data.
“I’ve seen it, particularly on issues where there’s a tremendous need for precision in remembering enormous amounts of very detailed information. It seems there’s an advantage in having female chromosomes.”"
Under Obama, 349 drone strikes in Pakistan have killed almost 4,000 people, an estimated quarter of them innocent civilians. [That's ONE THOUSAND DEAD CIVILIANS.] It is five years since Obama’s visit to CIA headquarters to meet the real “drone queens” for the first time. Several have risen to more senior positions in the CIA’s killing apparatus.
The next time Obama authorizes a strike in Pakistan, the odds are that it will be a woman who gives the green light moments before death is delivered from a drone stationed several miles away." 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Toxoplasmosis and Schizophrenia

Cats drawn by Louis Wain during his institutionalization at Bethlem Royal Hospital

Following is an interesting article on the association between toxoplasmosis infection and schizophrenia/suicide. Read carefully, though. No one is saying that the parasite causes schizophrenia. The cat feces findings are consistent with the dominant diathesis-stress model: you inherit or are born with a certain vulnerability to mental illness and that vulnerability interacts with environmental factors (e.g., child abuse, parasitic infections, etc.) to affect the probability of a mental disorder emerging.

What would be compelling is a study of "high risk" pre-psychotic patients, e.g., the adolescent, non-schizophrenic offspring of schizophrenic parents. Test them for the T. gondii infection and treat them for it if they have it. Wait a decade or so and see if the "conversion rate" (i.e., percentage of genetically at-risk adolescents who go on to develop schizophrenia) is any different from other groups of genetically at-risk adolescents (i.e., less than 12-15%).

The Atlantic
"“Textbooks today still make silly statements that schizophrenia has always been around, it’s about the same incidence all over the world, and it’s existed since time immemorial,” [psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey] says. “The epidemiology literature contradicts that completely.” In fact, he says, schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets. The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.
Since the 1950s, he notes, about 70 epidemiology studies have explored a link between schizophrenia and T. gondii. When he and his colleague Robert Yolken, a neurovirologist at Johns Hopkins University, surveyed a subset of these papers that met rigorous scientific standards, their conclusion complemented the Prague group’s discovery that schizophrenic patients with Toxo are missing gray matter in their brains. Torrey and Yolken found that the mental illness is two to three times as common in people who have the parasite as in controls from the same region.
Human-genome studies, both scientists believe, are also in keeping with that finding—and might explain why schizophrenia runs in families. The most replicated result from that line of investigation, they say, suggests that the genes most commonly associated with schizophrenia relate to the immune system and how it reacts to infectious agents. So in many cases where the disease appears to be hereditary, they theorize, what may in fact be passed down is an aberrant or deficient immune response to invaders like T. gondii.
Epstein-Barr virus, mumps, rubella, and other infectious agents, they point out, have also been linked to schizophrenia—and there are probably more as yet unidentified triggers, including many that have nothing to do with pathogens. But for now, they say, Toxo remains the strongest environmental factor implicated in the disorder. “If I had to guess,” says Torrey, “I’d say 75 percent of cases of schizophrenia are associated with infectious agents, and Toxo would be involved in a significant subset of those.”
Just as worrisome, says Torrey, the parasite may also increase the risk of suicide. In a 2011 study of 20 European countries, the national suicide rate among women increased in direct proportion to the prevalence of the latent Toxo infection in each nation’s female population. According to Teodor Postolache, a psychiatrist and the director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a flurry of other studies, several conducted by his own team, offers further support of T. gondii’s link to higher rates of suicidal behavior. These include investigations of general populations as well as groups made up of patients with bipolar disorder, severe depression, and schizophrenia, and in places as diverse as Turkey, Germany, and the Baltimore/Washington area. Exactly how the parasite may push vulnerable people over the edge is yet to be determined. Postolache theorizes that what disrupts mood and the ability to control violent impulses may not be the organism per se, but rather neurochemical changes associated with the body’s immune response to it. “As far-fetched as these ideas may sound,” says Postolache, “the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was willing to put money behind this research.”"

Just to be clear, this is not cat schizophrenia, nor is it Cat Scratch Fever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Angel of Death Nurse in Italy suspected of killing 38 patients

Kathy Bates in Misery.

NY Post
"Cops arrested a nurse in northeast Italy in connection to the deaths of as many as 38 patients, who she might have killed because she found them — or their relatives — annoying, officials said.
Police have the cell phone of Daniela Poggiali, 42, which included a photo she snapped a few months ago of her giving a thumbs up next to a patient who had died moments earlier, according to the Corriere di Bologna newspaper.
“I can assure you in that all my professional years of seeing shocking photos, there were few such as these,” prosecutor Alessandro Mancini said.
Poggiali, who lives in the town of Lugo, was taken into custody over the weekend and booked for the alleged slaying of 78-year-old patient Rosa Calderoni who died from an injection of potassium.
Calderoni had been admitted to the hospital with a routine illness before she died unexpectedly. Tests showed she died with a high amount of potassium, which can provoke cardiac arrest, in his bloodstream, according to the Central European News.
Her death triggered an investigation and found that 38 others had died mysteriously while Poggiali was on duty, the news agency reported.
One of Poggiali’s fellow nurses described her as a “cold person but always eager to work,” according to CEN.
Another one of Poggiali’s colleagues said the accused nurse was once reported for giving powerful laxatives to patients at the end of her shift to make work tougher for nurses working after her."

This sort of thing happens more frequently than you would hope. There is something broken about us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jacques Barzun: STEM training is not the same as a college education

"If they leave college thinking, as they usually do, that science offers a full, accurate, and literal description of man and Nature; if they think scientific research by itself yields final answers to social problems; if they think scientists are the only honest, patient, and careful workers in the world; if they think that Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, and Faraday were unimaginative plodders like their own instructors; if they think theories spring from facts and that scientific authority at any time is infallible; if they think that the ability to write down symbols and read manometers is fair grounds for superiority and pride, and if they think that science steadily and automatically makes for a better world — then they have wasted their time in the science lecture room; they live in an Ivory Laboratory more isolated than the poet's tower, and they are a plain menace to the society they belong to. They are a menace whether they believe all this by virtue of being engaged in scientific work themselves or of being disqualified from it by felt or fancied incapacity."
  • Teacher in America (1945)

Monday, October 20, 2014

After Ferguson: Police Officers Shot or Killed in the Line of Duty

This store surveillance camera captured the strong-arm robbery allegedly committed by Mike Brown; ten minutes later, he was shot and killed by a police officer responding to the robbery.

The following opinion piece, written by a police officer, is getting a lot of attention. I added some links to the referenced incidents, to provide some context.

NY Post
"Since the shooting of Mike Brown, and the month-plus-long circus that followed, the number of law enforcement officers being shot in the line of duty has skyrocketed, but the average citizen has no idea this is happening.
The national media jumps all over a story where an 18-year-old criminal punk, who shot at a cop, is shot and killed. That criminal is made out to be some sort of victim by many outlets. That story is front-page news all over the country.
Did you know that in just three days last week, six cops were shot in the line of duty, one of whom was killed?
Oct. 7, Chicago: One officer, a captain, is shot in the face and chest. Other officers at the scene take fire and are pinned down by the suspect. [The suspect, wanted in 3 other shootings, was arrested. Another man, who happened to be with the suspect at the time the warrant was served, was killed by police at the scene. It is unclear whether or not he shot at the police. Witnesses say that he didn't. The wounded officer did not require surgery for his injuries.]
Oct. 8, North Las Vegas: An officer is shot during a gunfight with a suspect. [The suspect was shot and killed at the scene.]
Oct. 8, Phoenix: An officer on a traffic stop is shot in the face. The suspects flee; the officer calls for help. Two other officers arrive and start rendering aid, only to come under fire from the suspects who circled back and attacked the responding officers. [A week later, the bad guys have been identified but are still on the loose. UPDATE: They caught them.]
Oct. 8, Oklahoma City: Two officers are shot by a suspect during the same event. [The officers were responding to a reported hostage situation; the woman who was apparently the hostage was shot to death by a suspect who was then shot, but not killed, by an officer.]
Oct. 9, Midland County, Texas: Sgt. Mike Naylor is shot and killed while responding to a report of a sexual assault. [The officer was trying to talk a suspect, wanted for aggravated sexual assault on a child, out of a barricade situation. The suspect, after killing the officer, eventually surrendered. He was unharmed by the arresting officers and has been charged with capital murder.]
Where are those stories in the national news?
What does it say about the media who make a victim out of a criminal, and ignore the good guys being injured and killed trying to keep society safe?"

Here's a link to the great Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police officer fatalities. I used data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund to create this chart:

Well, for one thing, it used to be a whole lot more dangerous to be a cop in the U.S. -- especially when you consider that these are raw totals, not rates -- so the number of killed officers has been decreasing even as the number of police has been increasing.

That was quite a bloodbath during Prohibition and the Depression. And it seems like there was some "rally round the flag" effect during WWII -- or did we just conscript a lot of potential cop killers and turn 'em loose against the Nazis? There was a postwar uptick, but it wasn't until the 1970s (think Taxi Driver and The French Connection and Serpico) that all hell broke loose.

Since then, there seems to have been a steady decline in officer deaths in the line of duty. I'm sure that body armor and airbags have had something to do with it. The proliferation of SWAT teams may also have helped. Emergency medical services and Life Flight helicopters must also be playing a role. There may be more cops being shot but surviving wounds that would have been fatal in the 1970s. Lessons learned on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan could be saving lives in the U.S.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Last Buccaneer -- Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

OH, England is a pleasant place for them that’s rich and high;
But England is a cruel place for such poor folks as I;
And such a port for mariners I ne’er shall see again,
As the pleasant Isle of Avès, beside the Spanish main.
There were forty craft in Avès that were both swift and stout,        5
All furnish’d well with small arms and cannons round about;
And a thousand men in Avès made laws so fair and free
To choose their valiant captains and obey them loyally.
Thence we sail’d against the Spaniard with his hoards of plate and gold,
Which he wrung by cruel tortures from the Indian folk of old;        10
Likewise the merchant captains, with hearts as hard as stone,
Which flog men and keelhaul them and starve them to the bone.
Oh, the palms grew high in Avès and fruits that shone like gold,
And the colibris and parrots they were gorgeous to behold;
And the negro maids to Avès from bondage fast did flee,        15
To welcome gallant sailors a sweeping in from sea.
Oh, sweet it was in Avès to hear the landward breeze
A-swing with good tobacco in a net between the trees,
With a negro lass to fan you while you listen’d to the roar
Of the breakers on the reef outside that never touched the shore.        20
But Scripture saith, an ending to all fine things must be,
So the King’s ships sail’d on Avès and quite put down were we.
All day we fought like bulldogs, but they burst the booms at night;
And I fled in a piragua sore wounded from the fight.
Nine days I floated starving, and a negro lass beside,        25
Till for all I tried to cheer her, the poor young thing she died;
But as I lay a gasping a Bristol sail came by,
And brought me home to England here to beg until I die.
And now I ’m old and going I ’m sure I can’t tell where;
One comfort is, this world’s so hard I can’t be worse off there:        30
If I might but be a sea-dove I ’d fly across the main,
To the pleasant Isle of Avès, to look at it once again.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Taxman -- Junior Parker (1971)


Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you and nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yes, I'm the taxman

(That man is rough; now dig this)
Should five per cent appear too small
Just be thankful I don't take it all
(Taxman is something else, isn't he?)
'Cause I'm the taxman, yes, I'm the taxman

(Now dig this)
If you drive a truck, I'll tax the street
If you try to fix it, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk (now this is awful). I'll tax your feet

'Cause I'm the taxman
This is awful

Now don't ask me what it's for
If you don't wanna pay, pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yes, I'm the taxman

(Now dig this)
Now my advice for those who die
(This is awful)
Beware of the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yes, I'm the taxman
And you're working for me and no one but me

The taxman is rough
He come and get you any time he wanna
Do you believe he come and get your old lady?
That taxman is a blip

Friday, October 17, 2014

Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD

VR Therapy for PTSD looks like something that the Space Marines in Aliens would use. It's not what it seems, though, like EMDR. It might work, but not for any high-tech reason. It's just Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE) in disguise. They suit the patient up, program the computer, and have him talk about the worst day of his life, over, and over, and over again. Just like the protocol for PE. But traditional psychotherapy doesn't require computer nerds or nearly as much electricity.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paul Ekman's Lie Detection program is a bunch of baloney

The Chronicle of Higher Education
"On the public-policy front, Ekman’s work helped inspire an immense federal program in American airports called SPOT, for Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques. Costing about $200-million annually—$900-million in all since 2007—the program, run by the Transportation Security Administration, deploys more than 3,000 officers to look for behavioral cues in the faces and body language of airline passengers. Those deemed suspicious are pulled aside and, if they display more signs of duplicity during an interview, are referred to law enforcement.
But Ekman’s lie-detection work has recently taken some hard blows. He has long had academic critics (unmentioned in Blink) who say he has not proved that his behavior-based lie-detection techniques actually work. In November 2013, the Government Accountability Office took things up a notch by recommending that Congress cut the funding of the TSA program. The watchdog agency argued that neither scholarship in general nor specific analyses of SPOT offered any proof that malign intent could be divined by looking at body language or facial cues.
Plenty of academics share this negative view of SPOT. "I really don’t think the current program at TSA is doing anything to protect us," says Charles R. Honts, a professor of psychology at Boise State University, who has consulted with the Department of Defense on behavioral observation.
This is the rare social-science debate in which lives are at stake. If the GAO is to be believed, a 10-year government investment has been a waste, and possibly a dangerous one, if it provided a false sense of security. Is the science behind the SPOT program so misbegotten that it should be abandoned? Or might it be a promising program with a few flaws? Ekman argues that the GAO failed to consider the most up-to-date and pertinent research on the subject, and that pulling behavioral-detection officers out of airports would amount to "open season for terrorists." But his critics say the world’s most famous lie detector has been stretching the truth a bit himself, offering an exaggerated account of his findings to a credulous press and policy makers."

This would have certainly fit Carl Sagan's definition of "A Celebration of Ignorance."

The U.S. government spends millions on a "spot the terrorist by examining body language" program that doesn't work. Before that, it spent millions on a "combat-harden our soldiers' minds" program that doesn't work. Why is any of this a surprise? For nearly 50 years, the U.S. government has been spending billions a year on a free pre-school for poor children program that doesn't work. Should we blame psychologists such as Paul Ekman and Martin Seligman for lining up at the money-filled troughs?

Aside from incinerating hundreds of thousands of Japanese women and children and going to the moon and then stopping ingloriously, what has the federal government ever done that worked?

Oh wait, I forgot about Teddy:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bachelorette impregnated by dwarf stripper

Telegraph (UK)
"A Spanish woman has been forced to confess to cheating on her husband-to-be on her hen night with a dwarf stripper after she gave birth to a baby with dwarfism.
Her husband believed the baby was his and that it had been conceived during the honeymoon but his wife confessed to the infidelity after he repeatedly questioned doctors as to how the baby could have been born with dwarfism.
The woman has not been named, but according to local reports she felt compelled to tell her husband after questions were raised by friends who had accompanied her on the hen night, which took place at the beginning of the year."
It seems appropriate to link now to the excellent blogpost by Gene Expression that deflates the urban myth that 30% of all births are cases of "misattributed paternity." In the United States, the actual rate of men raising children whom they believe are their biological offspring but are not, is less than 1% (.08). [Which, of course, means that it happens.]

The crazy 30% rate comes from data from paternity testing firms. Obviously they have a biased sample -- only men who are highly suspicious that the kid they are raising is not theirs would pay for these tests (or appear on the Maury Povich show). And still, these highly suspicious fellows find out that 70% of the time, it actually is their kid.

Here's a link to an excellent explanation of dominant v. recessive genetic inheritance. (Too bad the author didn't read the question closely enough -- the reader is asking about how his kid got dwarfism, not worrying about whether or not his kid could get it. The author assures him that the kid is unlikely to get it -- but he already has it!) This post from The Tech at Stanford explains that most cases of dwarfism are caused by genetic mutations (in either the father's sperm or mother's egg), and not by inheritance as we usually think of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FBI Mass Murder report

Here's the key graphic from the FBI's recent report on Mass Murders in the U.S. Q: What do you think the takeaway message is that they are trying to get across? A: The FBI needs more money! They did the same thing in the 1980s with serial murder -- gin up a story about some scary phenomenon and position the agency as the solution.

The problem with the "epidemic" of mass murder is that there isn't one. The Daily Beast produced the following reality check during the hysteria that followed the Sandy Hook shooting:

Here's my own graph, using the FBI's own 160 cases, but only including incidents in which a single-shooter killed 4 or more people (not including himself) in a single location (which is the FBI's own definition of a mass murder, which they redefined for the recent report):

We've still got the scary trendline heading skywards, making it look like 2014 is going to be a record year for mass murders. The thing to remember is that the trendline is an artifact of the data in the table -- it's not being driven by some cosmic force. (Think about how well the trendline up until 2009 would have predicted the number of mass murder incidents in 2010.)

How many mass murder incidents will there be in 2014? The best thing to do would be to take the annual average for the past 14 years (3 events/year). If you want a high estimate, you should take the average over the past 7 years (4 events/year), which is twice as high as the average from 2000-2006 (2 events/year).

Well, it's October already and I can only think of two mass murder incidents so far in 2014 -- the Isla Vista, California fellow and this family annihilator. I suppose we should expect one or two more before the year is over.

How freaked out should we be about these events? Well, in 2012, the worst year we are considering, the 6 mass murders accounted for a total of 56 homicides. The data isn't finalized for 2012, but in 2011 there were 16,238 homicides in the U.S. So about what percentage of homicides are caused by mass murderers?

About one-third of 1%.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Stanley Milgram, Nazis, and Ethics

"The spectre of Nazism and the banality of evil haunted the Milgram experiment. The capture and trial of the Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann took place at the same time as Milgram’s tests; the tests concluded within days of Eichmann’s execution. At the core of Milgram’s tests was the scientist’s desire to replicate as best he could the conditions of the gas chamber. He sought to induce the Holocaust in individual subjects so that he could measure evil at the atomic level. In an interview for 60 Minutes in 1979, Milgram told the host Morley Safer:
I would say, on the basis of having observed a thousand people in the experiment and having my own intuition shaped and informed by these experiments, that if a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for these camps in any medium-sized American town.
It’s an ugly thing to know, and no doubt a stressful thing to prove a thousand times. After controversy regarding the ethics of his experiments, Milgram was denied tenure. He had a successful career at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, but nothing he did could eclipse the notorious experiment he had designed in his 20s. In 1984, Milgram died, after his fifth heart attack, at the age of 51.
When I first learnt about Milgram in a high-school psychology class, I asked my grandfather, a Jewish clinical psychologist of the same era, about the experiments. He shook his head, sighed, and said ‘Poor Stanley’. Milgram had hoped a version of the Nazis’ own racial logic could save the rest of us from being implicated in the depths of their crimes: that there might be some distinctive evil about the Germans. But once the cross-cultural comparison was quickly deemed irrelevant, why proceed with the experiments? 
...The conclusion that man is cruel and beastly is repeated throughout art, theology and philosophy, not to mention the historical record. Milgram half-heartedly hoped that knowledge and awareness about obedience might decrease the human propensity to follow orders, but there’s no evidence that this is the case. In 2007, the Santa Clara University psychologist Jerry M Burger in collaboration with ABC News reproduced the experiment under current ethical guidelines. Nearly half a century after Milgram first performed the test, they found virtually no change in compliance, even with additional warnings and disclosures to the participants. It’s one of the most famous social science experiments of all time, but awareness, like pleading, doesn’t seem to do much good."

The whole article is worth reading. Most Intro Psych textbooks leave out the original hypothesis -- that there was something wrong with Germans that made them so obedient to immoral orders. The texts also shy away from the obvious conclusion -- that there's something deeply wrong with us, human beings. The textbooks try to play off the Experimenters as being evil -- if only we could do something about the people giving evil instructions, the rest of us would go our innocent way. But there are no innocents.

The hysteria over the "ethics" of Milgram's study is also worth considering. It is important to note that no lasting harm was caused to any of the participants, only temporary distress. They were all informed that they hadn't actually hurt anyone. None of the participants sued Yale University or became drug addicts or died by suicide as a direct result of their participation. In a civil suit they would be very hard pressed to prove damages. I suspect that our current hyper-scrupulosity over the treatment of psychology research participants stems more from our faint hope that we could actually harm them in our experiments (which would make us just like "real" doctors). It is interesting that the ethical horror stories we tell always involve physicians, not psychologists (e.g., the Tuskegee Syphilis study, Nazi medical experimentation). It is quite ridiculous that the informed consent procedure to participate in an undergraduate's little psych experiment is more involved and complex than the informed consent procedure you have to undergo prior to surgery.

Getting upset about the "ethics" of Milgram's treatment of his participants is a way of distracting oneself from the implications of his findings. We're no better than the Nazis. There is something broken about all of us. We don't need Experimenters in White Lab Coats to make us do bad things. We know we do bad things. That's why we are so restless and discontented.

Do you think Freud would have been surprised by Milgram's findings? Would Dostoevsky have been?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dulce et Decorum est -- Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

See also Owen's Mental Cases.

As they would say here in Rockbridge County, Virginia: "Captain Owen might be anti-war, but he come by it honest."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Baby Just Cares for Me -- Nina Simone


My baby don't care for shows
My baby don't care for clothes
My baby just cares for me
My baby don't care for cars and races
My baby don't care for high-tone places
Liz Taylor is not his style
And even Lana Turner's smile
Is somethin' he can't see
My baby don't care who knows it
My baby just cares for me
Baby, my baby don't care for shows
And he don't even care for clothes
My baby just cares for me
My baby don't care for cars and races
Baby don't care for
He don't care for high-tone places
Liz Taylor is not his style
And even Lana Turner's smile
Is something he can't see
Is something he can't see
I wonder what's wrong with baby
My baby just cares for
He just says his prayers for
My baby just cares for me


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian -- Edouard Manet (1867-68)


Manet’s images are electrifying. For him, painting was thinking, and his thoughts shoot out in bold, impetuous strokes, ricocheting off multiple targets.  
One of his targets was the conservative French emperor Napoleon III. In the mid-19th-century this ruler, ravenous for new territory, had his eye on Mexico. When a reformist government under Benito Juárez came to power in the country, a privileged minority of landowners and clergy appealed to France for help, and Napoleon (counting on the United States being distracted by the Civil War) sent his army their way in 1862.  
The initial invasion, under the pretext of collecting debts owed by Mexico, resulted in a mortifying French defeat, now celebrated by Mexicans as Cinco de Mayo. To provide a cover for a second one, Napoleon [n.b., Napoleon III, not Bonaparte] persuaded Maximilian, the idealistic younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, to become emperor of Mexico, backed by the French military. Maximilian, who knew nothing in particular about Mexico, accepted the offer with a missionary zeal, giving Napoleon both a colony and a Hapsburg alliance.  
But problems instantly arose. The new emperor arrived in 1864 and was led to believe by Mexican monarchists that he would be embraced. He wasn’t. Popular support was for Juárez, pushed north by the French but poised to return. Maximilian, despite his liberal sentiments, made repressive moves, alienating everyone.  
Napoleon soon realized he had a fiasco on his hands and wanted out. Maximilian was urged to abdicate, but stayed on, as his wife dashed in a panic to Europe to rally support. None came. The French Army departed. Juárez returned. Maximilian was arrested and, along with two of his generals, Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía, was tried for treason and sentenced to die. He was 35. 
On the morning of June 19, 1867, the three were brought to open ground near a walled cemetery and shot by a squad of Mexican Army riflemen. Maximilian’s end was agonizingly protracted. The initial round of fire didn’t kill him; the coup de grâce was botched and had to be repeated to finish the job.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Have a problem? Take a pill!


"Hundreds of thousands of people drinking half a bottle of wine a night are to be put on the first ever drug to help reduce alcohol consumption, under plans announced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).  
Men drinking three pints of beer and women drinking two large glasses of wine per night and who do not cut down within two weeks should be prescribed a new drug, NICE has said.  
There are an estimated 750,000 people in the UK who would be eligible for nalmefene who show no overt symptoms associated with their drinking.  
The plans mean GPs will actively ask patients about their alcohol consumption even when they see them for unrelated health matters such as low mood, inability to sleep, diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Prof Mark Bellis, alcohol lead for the Faculty of Public Health said there were relatively simple alternatives that would reduce alcohol consumption without the need to medicate the middle classes such as reducing advertising of alcohol and introducing a minimum price per unit.  
The drug, which costs £3 per tablet, is taken when people feel the urge to have a drink and stops them from wanting more than one. In clinical trials the drug helped people to cut their alcohol consumption by about 60 per cent from 13.5 units a day to five units. 
However this was only 1.8 units more than those receiving just counseling."

Why not just pump it into the water supply, like fluoride?

This is actually a really old drug (1970s) that is not even sold anymore in the U.S. If it works anywhere near as well as the other opioid-antagonists, like its cousin, Naltrexone, then I'm pretty confident that it doesn't work at all. (Not that I'm all that sanguine about the benefits of counseling in this regard, either.) There's a big difference between demonstrating positive effects in a clinical trial and success in the real world. How many patients do I know who've kicked opiates with Naltrexone? None.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

White House Shooter Oscar Ortega-Hernandez

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez:
Can you tell if someone is schizophrenic just by looking at a photo of them?

Washington Post

"An Idaho man pleaded guilty [on September 17, 2013] to opening fire on the White House in November 2011.
No one was injured, but two members of President Obama’s family were there when Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez began shooting, according to court documents filed Wednesday. Ortega-Hernandez admitted firing eight rounds from a semiautomatic assault rifle into the second and third floors of the White House.
The 22-year-old had been scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Washington on charges that included attempted assassination of the president. Instead, he pleaded guilty to using a firearm during a crime of violence and to damaging the White House and putting “lives in jeopardy.”
He faces up to 27 1 / 2 years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines. [He got 25 years, and he has to pay $94,000 in restitution to repair the damage to the White House.]
In the months leading up to the White House shooting, Ortega-Hernandez had become agitated [and paranoid], authorities said. He told friends that the federal government was seeking to control Americans by implanting global positioning chips in children, according to the plea agreement. [He was also worried that the government was using fluoride and aspartame for the purposes of mind control.]
Acquaintances told authorities that Ortega-Hernandez had told them that he “needed to kill” the president and that Obama was “the antichrist.”  
In October 2011, he recorded two videos of himself in which he called for a revolution, according to the statement of offense signed by Ortega-Hernandez. He then drove 2,200 miles from his home in Idaho Falls to Washington. 
On the evening of Nov. 11, he stopped his 1998 Honda Accord on Constitution Avenue NW shortly after passing the entrance to the Ellipse. He began firing a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a telescopic sight.
Driving away moments later, Ortega-Hernandez lost control of the car and crashed near the ramp to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. He fled on foot and was arrested at a hotel in western Pennsylvania after a five-day manhunt."


"Family members and others said that while Mr. Ortega was behaving increasingly strangely — he read a 45-minute speech at his 21st birthday party in October that veered from supporting marijuana legalization to detailing the threat of secret societies to expressing frustration with American foreign policy in oil-producing countries — he never seemed violent.
They said that he could not have truly wanted to kill the president, but that he may have wanted a larger audience. He read his speech to anyone who would listen. In September, Mr. Ortega made a video in which he asked Oprah Winfrey to let him appear on television with her.
“You see, Oprah, there is still so much more that God needs me to express to the world,” he says. “It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern-day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for.”
Mr. Ortega’s behavior and the age at which it appears to have begun to suggest that he has “a textbook case” of schizophrenia, said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, who researches the disease and is the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va.
Dr. Torrey recalled working at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, a psychiatric treatment center, in the 1970s and 1980s.
“These folks often end up in Washington as what we used to call ‘White House cases,’ ” he said. “A White House case classically is someone who comes to the guard at the White House and says they have a special message for the president, or they try to go over the wall. We’ve seen dozens. They almost always have paranoid schizophrenia, and they almost always respond to medication.” Among the patients being treated there is John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Mr. Ortega, he acknowledged, is accused of going much further than pestering a guard or climbing a wall.
“I can guarantee you that in his mind, it all makes perfect sense,” Dr. Torrey said. “If he’s Christ, Obama’s the Antichrist.”"

How did this guy not get a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity acquittal? He should be in a forensic mental facility, not a federal prison.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Omar Gonzalez to undergo Competency to Stand Trial Evaluation, over his attorney's objections


Washington Post
Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, a U.S. Army veteran who has said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, will remain in jail without bond, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson of the District ordered.
Gonzalez did not speak during the 20-minute court appearance.
A federal grand jury charged Gonzalez on Tuesday with one federal felony count of entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly weapon — a knife — as well as D.C. charges of carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or business and unlawful possession of ammunition.
The federal charge carries a prison sentence of as much as 10 years and the D.C. counts up to five years and one year in prison, respectively.
Over vehement protests by Gonzalez’s defense attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender David Bos of the District, Robinson ordered that Gonzalez undergo a mental competency screening Oct. 17 by the D.C. Department of Mental Health.
“The court is within its discretion to order a [psychiatric] screening,” Robinson said.
Bos said that his client was competent to stand trial, and that he would immediately seek to stay the judge’s order, calling it “wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”
Bos said there was no basis to conclude that Gonzalez is unable to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his defense. Bos has opposed similar efforts in the past as a “fishing expedition” by the government to gain access to a defendant and obtain information it would not otherwise have, including in preparation for a potential insanity defense. 
At the time of his arrest, Secret Service said, Gonzalez told an agent that he was concerned that the “atmosphere was collapsing” and that he needed to inform the president to alert the public.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mentally Ill Iraq War veteran, 1 : U.S. Secret Service, 0

Eluding security in the White House
The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.
An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds — often through the alarm boxes posted around the property — they must immediately lock the front door.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
Gonzalez was tackled by a counterassault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.
Secret Service officials had earlier said he was quickly detained at the main entry. [Which is to say, They lied.] Agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said the office is not commenting during the ongoing investigation of the incident.
Breaches of the White House fence have become more common, but most jumpers are tackled by Secret Service officers guarding the complex before they get even a third of the way across the lawn. Gonzalez is the first person known to have jumped the fence and made it inside the executive mansion


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Maldive Shark -- Herman Melville (1819-1891)

An oceanic white tip shark with pilot fish, Red Sea, Egypt

About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril’s abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat—
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.