Friday, September 30, 2016

"One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly"

Guy Sajer Quotes by Guy Sajer Like Success

"Too many people learn about war with no inconvenience to themselves. They read about Verdun or Stalingrad without comprehension, sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire, preparing to go about their business the next day, as usual. One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in discomfort, considering oneself fortunate not to be describing the events in a letter home, writing from a hole in the mud. One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly, remembering that the torments of peace are trivial, and not worth any white hairs. Nothing is really serious in the tranquility of peace; only an idiot could really be disturbed by a question of salary. One should read about war standing up, late at night, when one is tired, as I am writing about it now, at dawn, while my asthma attack wears off, And even now, in my sleepless exhaustion, how gentle and easy peace seems!"
-- Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier (1967/1971, p. 223)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

God is good; be at peace -- Marcus Aurelius

Image result for Marcus Aurelius

"Matter in the universe is supple and compliant, and the Reason which controls it has no motive for ill-doing; for it is without malice, and does nothing with intent to injure, neither is anything harmed by it. By its ordinances all things have their birth and their fulfillment."

-- Meditations, Book Six [trans. Maxwell Stansiforth]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Keep the Proles Quiescent: Legalize Marijuana

Image result for prole  marijuana

Keith Humphreys, Washington Post
Most of the marijuana market is more Wal-Mart than Whole Foods,” says Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jonathan Caulkins, the lead author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Caulkins’ analysis of data from the federal government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (above) shows that “college grads account for only about one-in-six days of use," the common measurement for national marijuana use.
The remaining 5/6 of today’s marijuana market comprises, from largest to smallest share, high-school graduates, people who attended some college (over 90% of whom are no longer enrolled), high school dropouts and teenagers.  All these population groups tend to have modest incomes, which Caulkins notes means that “they are likely to be price-sensitive and drawn to less costly brands."
Marijuana use in the U.S. is thus like tobacco use: A behavior concentrated in lower social capital groups. Why then is the modal cultural image of pot that of hipster professionals clucking over arrays of $500/ounce sinsemilla blends at upscale dispensaries in San Francisco or Boulder, rather than, say, that of a gas station attendant who smokes low-cost weed several times a day?
The answer may be that journalists, pundits, elected officials and policy analysts, like all human beings, have a tendency to overestimate the representativeness of their own experience. The college-educated chattering classes portray and discuss the world they know, which in fact is a small slice of the U.S. marijuana scene.
To the extent that both criminal sanctions and health damage connected to marijuana fall more heavily on lower income groups, college-educated public policymakers and advocates may not well appreciate how marijuana use and marijuana policy play out in the lives of the typical user. In contrast, with their culture of researching markets in search of profits, rising marijuana entrepreneurs will quickly come to pursue the potential fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.  Caulkins predicts that “this will lead them to promote value-priced brands, not just high-end artisanal versions”."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Unemployed Young Male: Smoking Dope and Playing Videogames

Image result for video games young men marijuana
Pretty egregious of this article not to mention that these unemployed young men are smoking dope as well as playing videogames. That's why they report higher-than-expected levels of life satisfaction -- cannabis makes you content with your present life circumstances, no matter how lame they are. Expect another middle-aged suicide bubble from these fellows in 20 years.


""In 2015, 22 percent of lower-skilled men [those without a college degree] aged 21 to 30 had not worked at all during the prior twelve months,” Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago] said.
"Think about that for a second,” he went on. Twenty-something male high-school grads used to be the most dependable working cohort in America. Today one in five are now essentially idle. The employment rate of this group has fallen 10 percentage points just this century, and it has triggered a cultural, economic, and social decline. "These younger, lower-skilled men are now less likely to work, less likely to marry, and more likely to live with parents or close relatives,” he said.

So, what are these young, non-working men doing with their time? Three quarters of their additional leisure time is spent with video games, Hurst’s research has shown. And these young men are happy—or, at least, they self-report higher satisfaction than this age group used to, even when its employment rate was 10 percentage points higher.
It is a relief to know that one can be poor, young, and unemployed, and yet fairly content with life; indeed, one of the hallmarks of a decent society is that it can make even poverty bearable. But the long-term prospects of these men may be even bleaker than their present. As Hurst and others have emphasized, these young men have disconnected from both the labor market and the dating pool. They are on track to grow up without spouses, families, or a work history. They may grow up to be rudderless middle-aged men, hovering around the poverty line, trapped in the narcotic undertow of cheap entertainment while the labor market fails to present them with adequate working opportunities."


Monday, September 26, 2016

Election 2016: The Silent Majority versus the Elites

NYT, 1/27/91
"Lower-middle-class culture, Mr. Lasch argues, reflects an emphasis on the family, the church and the neighborhood. A community's continuity is valued more highly than individual advancement, social solidarity is favored over social mobility and the maintenance of existing ways takes precedent over mainstream ideals of success. Parents want their children to succeed in life, but they also want them to be considerate of their elders, to willingly bear their responsibilities and to show courage under adversity. "More concerned with honor than with worldly ambition, they have less interest in the future than do upper-middle-class parents, who try to equip their children with the qualities required for competitive advancement."
Mr. Lasch acknowledges the provincialism and narrowness of lower-middle-class culture, and he does not deny that "it has produced racism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, and all the other evils so often cited by liberal critics." But, he maintains, in their zeal to condemn such objectionable traits, liberals have failed to see the valuable features of petty-bourgeois culture -- what he calls moral realism, skepticism about progress, respect for limits and understanding that everything has its price."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

California Poem -- Johnny Cash

Image result for Johnny Cash

There’s trouble on the mountainAnd the valley’s full of smokeThere’s crying on the mountainAnd again the same heart broke.
The lights are on past midniteThe curtains closed all dayThere’s trouble on the mountainThe valley people say.
—Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Everywhere that I'm not -- Translator (1982)

Image result for Everywhere that I'm not -- Translator

I thought I saw you.
Out on the avenue.
But I guess, it was just someone
Who looked a lot like I remember you do.
'Cause, I thought I heard your voice.
In a bar, making a choice.
But, no. It was just someone
Who sounded a lot like I remember you do.

'Cause that's impossible, that's im...
That's impossible, that's imposs...
That's impossible, that's impossible.
'Cause you're in New York, but I'm not.

You're in Tokyo, but I'm not.
You're in Nova Scotia, but I'm not.
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
I'm Not, I'm Not, I'm Not.

I thought I felt your touch.
In my car on my clutch.
But I guess, it was just someone
Who felt a lot like I remember you do.

'Cause that's impossible, that's im...
That's impossible, that's imposs...
That's impossible, that's impossible.

'Cause you're in New York, but I'm not.
You're in Tokyo, but I'm not.
You're in Nova Scotia, but I'm not.
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
I'm Not, I'm Not, I'm Not.

(Instrumental Break)

I thought I saw you.
Out on the avenue.
But I guess, it was just someone
Who looked a lot like I remember you do.
I thought I felt your touch.
In my car, bu no such luck.
No. I guess, it was just someone
Who felt a lot like I remember you do.

'Cause that's impossible, that's im...
That's impossible, that's imposs...
That's impossible, that's impossible.
'Cause you're in New York, but I'm not.
You're in Tokyo, but I'm not.
You're in Nova Scotia, but I'm not.
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not
(Oh, Come On!)
(Oh, Yeah, Yeah!)
You're Everywhere That I'm Not
You're Everywhere That I'm Not
You're Everywhere That I'm Not
Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not


Friday, September 23, 2016

Only the educated are free -- Epictetus, Discourses, Book II, Chapter 1

"What then is the fruit of these opinions? It is that which ought to he the most noble and the most becoming to those who are really educated, release from perturbation, release from fear, freedom. For in these matters we must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free. "How is this?" In this manner. Is freedom anything else than the power of living as we choose? "Nothing else." Tell me then, ye men, do you wish to live in error? "We do not." No one then who lives in error is free. Do you wish to live in fear? Do you wish to live in sorrow? Do you wish to live in perturbation? "By no means." No one, then, who is in a state of fear or sorrow or perturbation is free; but whoever is delivered from sorrows and fears and perturbations, he is at the same time also delivered from servitude. How then can we continue to believe you, most dear legislators, when you say, "We only allow free persons to be educated?" For philosophers say we allow none to be free except the educated; that is, God does not allow it."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"The energetic and successful man is he who succeeds, by dint of labor, in transforming his wish fancies into reality" -- Freud

Image result for freud clark university
Not the greatest statue. And certainly not sufficient reason to visit Worcester, Mass. Interesting that Freud gave these lectures at Clark University in 1909 in German -- because all Ph.D. trained persons in the United States at that time could speak German -- how else could you read the scientific literature? But have no doubt, wars settle some things. After 1945, English was well on its way to becoming the global language of science and medicine (and aviation, etc.). What a difference 36 years can make.

Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis
"The deeper you penetrate into the pathogenic of neurotic diseases, the more the connection of neuroses with other products of human mentality, even the most valuable, will be revealed to you. You will be reminded that we men, with the high claims of our civilization and under the pressure of our repressions, find reality generally quite unsatisfactory and so keep up a life of fancy in which we love to compensate for what is lacking in the sphere of reality by the production of wish-fulfillments.  
In these phantasies is often contained very much of the particular constitutional essence of personality and of its tendencies, repressed in real life. The energetic and successful man is he who succeeds, by dint of labor, in transforming his wish fancies into reality. Where this is not successful in consequence of the resistance of the outer world and the weakness of the individual, there begins the turning away from reality. The individual takes refuge in his satisfying world of fancy.
Under certain conditions it still remains possible for him to find another connecting link between these fancies and reality, instead of permanently becoming a stranger to it through the regression into the infantile. If the individual who is displeased with reality is in possession of that artistic talent which is still a psychological riddle, he can transform his fancies into artistic creations. So he escapes the fate of a neurosis and wins back his connection with reality by this round-about way. Where this opposition to the real world exists, but this valuable talent fails or is insufficient, it is unavoidable that the libido, following the origin of the fancies, succeeds by means of regression in revivifying the infantile wishes and so producing a neurosis. The neurosis takes, in our time, the place of the cloister, in which were accustomed to take refuge all those whom life had undeceived or who felt themselves too weak for life."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Education is the last backwater of anti-genetic thinking" -- Robert Plomin

Image result for public education
"Yes, I have a question. Why I am the same classroom as my genetic inferiors?"

Marty Nemko, Psychology Today
"Robert Plomin is ranked among the most influential living psychologists (link is external). He has received lifetime achievement awards from the Behavior Genetics Association, American Psychological Society, and the International Society for Intelligence Research.
In Plomin's recent The Edge interview, (link is external)he reports that his lab at King's College, London has already identified a gene cluster that:
"explains almost 10 percent of the variance in tests of school performance. Those scores are about 60 percent heritable... Explaining 10 percent of the variance in the social and behavioral sciences is pretty good going…If you don't believe in genetics, you're going to have to argue with DNA. You can't just say, 'The twin study is no good,' or 'the adoption study is no good.' DNA is real…
For the first time, it will allow us to make genetic predictions for an individual…It's the difference between getting into university or not... 
It's better to make policy based on knowledge than on fiction. A lot of what I see in education is fiction…Education is the last backwater of anti-genetic thinking... I want to get people in education talking about genetics because the evidence for genetic influence is overwhelming. The things that interest them—learning abilities, cognitive abilities, behavior problems in childhood—are the most heritable things in the behavioral domain. Yet it's like Alice in Wonderland. You go to educational conferences and it's as if genetics does not exist."
It's understandable that educators put their fingers in their ears and sing "la-la-la-la" to drown out the word genetics. It can make teachers feel impotent. Of course, that’s not true, any more than a car’s performance can’t be improved by tuning it up. In nearly all traits in all of the animal and plant kingdoms, both genes and environment matter. [Environment does matter, of course, but mostly with regard to reducing intelligence, not increasing it.]
In fact, teachers might benefit from realizing that they don't deserve to be the whipping boy for American students floundering near the bottom of developed nations in international comparisons (link is external). Teachers are dispirited—and quitting. According to a National Education Association study, almost half of teachers quit within the first five years of teaching (link is external). Of course, there are many factors but it certainly can't help for teachers to feel they're the Bad Guys."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Violent video games don't increase aggression

Image result for violent video games

Does playing video games with violent content temporarily increase aggressive behavior? A pre-registered experimental study (McCarthy et al., 2015)

ArticleinJournal of Experimental Social Psychology 67 · January 2015


The current study tested whether participants who played a violent video game (VVG) would exhibit increased aggressive inclinations relative to those who played a non-violent video game (NVG). Participants (N = 386) were randomly assigned to play a VVG or a NVG prior to presumably interacting with another (non-existent) participant. We then measured participants' aggressive inclinations: Participants reported how many pins they would like to stick into a “voodoo doll” representing their interaction partner, and participants reported how likely they would be to actually harm their interaction partner. We did not detect any differences between conditions for several outcomes: the amount of aggressive inclinations displayed during the interaction, the number of pins participants chose to stick into a representation of their interaction partner, and participants' self-reported likelihood they would harm their interaction partner. Thus, the hypothesis that playing a VVG would increase aggressive inclinations was not supported in this study. Exploratory analyses revealed associations between (1) participants' self-reported likelihood to aggress and perceptions of the game as frustrating or difficult, (2) gender and higher levels of pin selection, and (3) participants' self-identification as a gamer and lower levels of pin selection.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trepanation was not used by the Inca to release the "evil spirits" they thought caused mental illness

Image result for trepanation inca

National Geographic
"Inca surgeons in ancient Peru commonly and successfully removed small portions of patients' skulls to treat head injuries, according to a new study.
The surgical procedure—known as trepanation—was most often performed on adult men, likely to treat injuries suffered during combat, researchers say.
A similar procedure is performed today to relieve pressure caused by fluid buildup following severe head trauma. 
Around the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco (see Peru map), remains dating back to A.D. 1000 show that surgical techniques were standardized and perfected over time, according to the report.
Many of the oldest skulls showed no evidence of bone healing following the operation, suggesting that the procedure was probably fatal.
But by the 1400s, survival rates approached 90 percent, and infection levels were very low, researchers say.
The new findings show that Inca surgeons had developed a detailed knowledge of cranial anatomy, said lead author Valerie Andrushko, of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
"These people were skilled surgeons," she said.
...Trepanation was practiced as early as 400 B.C. in South America and is known from other parts of the world as well.
Archaeologists have long debated whether the skull perforations were conducted as a medical procedure or for ritual or cultural reasons.
With regard to the Inca, Tung said, the new study should settle the debate.
"I think the authors are spot on when they suggest that cranial surgery was performed primarily to treat head injuries," she said.
Those injuries may have most often been sustained during warfare, according to the new study's authors.
Nearly all of the surgeries were performed either near the middle of the skull or on the left side—the regions most likely to be injured during combat with a right-handed opponent, Andrushko noted.
In addition, some of the skulls showed signs of previous injury in the area where the operation was performed.
The fact that 19 of the surgical patients were women, however, suggests that the operation may have sometimes been performed for other reasons—possibly as an attempted cure for epilepsy or chronic bone infection, the authors note."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Stanley Lombardo singing the Iliad, Book One

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[Alexander Pope's translation -- the video uses Robert Fagles' translation]

The Wrath of Peleus' Son, the direful Spring
Of all the Grecian Woes, O Goddess, sing!
That Wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy Reign
The Souls of mighty Chiefs untimely slain;
Whose Limbs unbury'd on the naked Shore [5]
Devouring Dogs and hungry Vultures tore.
Since Great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the Sov'reign Doom, and such the Will of Jove.

Declare, O Muse! in what ill-fated Hour
Sprung the fierce Strife, from what offended Pow'r? [10]
Latona's Son a dire Contagion spread,
And heap'd the Camp with Mountains of the Dead;
The King of Men his Rev'rend Priest defy'd,
And, for the King's Offence, the People dy'd.

For Chryses sought with costly Gifts to gain [15]
His Captive Daughter from the Victor's Chain.
Suppliant the Venerable Father stands,
Apollo's awful Ensigns grace his Hands:
By these he begs; and lowly bending down,
Extends the Sceptre and the Laurel Crown. [20]
He su'd to All, but chief implor'd for Grace
The Brother-Kings, of Atreus' Royal Race.

Ye Kings and Warriors! may your Vows be crown'd,
And Troy's proud Walls lie level with the Ground.
May Jove restore you, when your Toils are o'er, [25]
Safe to the Pleasures of your native Shore.
But oh! relieve a wretched Parent's Pain,
And give Chruseïs to these Arms again;
If Mercy fail, yet let my Presents move,
And dread avenging Phoebus, Son of Jove. [30]

The Greeks in Shouts their joint Assent declare
The Priest to rev'rence, and release the Fair.
Not so Atrides: He, with Kingly Pride,
Repuls'd the sacred Sire, and thus reply'd.
Hence on thy Life, and fly these hostile Plains, [35]
Nor ask, Presumptuous, what the King detains;
Hence, with thy Laurel Crown, and Golden Rod,
Nor trust too far those Ensigns of thy God.
Mine is thy Daughter, Priest, and shall remain;
And Pray'rs, and Tears, and Bribes shall plead in vain; [40]
'Till Time shall rifle ev'ry youthful Grace,
And Age dismiss her from my cold Embrace,
In daily Labours of the Loom employ'd,
Or doom'd to deck the Bed she once enjoy'd.
Hence then: to Argos shall the Maid retire; [45]
Far from her native Soil, and weeping Sire.

The trembling Priest along the Shore return'd,
And in the Anguish of a Father mourn'd.
Disconsolate, nor daring to complain,
Silent he wander'd by the sounding Main: [50]
'Till, safe at distance, to his God he prays,
The God who darts around the World his Rays.
O Smintheus! sprung from fair Latona's Line,
Thou Guardian Pow'r of Cilla the Divine,
Thou Source of Light! whom Tenedos adores, [55]
And whose bright Presence gilds thy Chrysa's Shores.
If e'er with Wreaths I hung thy sacred Fane,
Or fed the Flames with Fat of Oxen slain;
God of the Silver Bow! thy Shafts employ,
Avenge thy Servant, and the Greeks destroy. [60]

Thus Chryses pray'd: the fav'ring Pow'r attends,
And from Olympus' lofty Tops descends.
Bent was his Bow, the Grecian Hearts to wound;
Fierce as he mov'd, his Silver Shafts resound.
Breathing Revenge, a sudden Night he spread, [65]
And gloomy Darkness roll'd around his Head.
The Fleet in View, he twang'd his deadly Bow,
And hissing fly the feather'd Fates below.
On Mules and Dogs th'Infection first began,
And last, the vengeful Arrows fix'd in Man. [70]
For nine long Nights, thro' all the dusky Air
The Fires thick-flaming shot a dismal Glare.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

But Not For Me -- Ella Fitzgerald (1959)

Image result for Ella Fitzgerald (1959)

They're writing songs of love
But not for me
A lucky star's above
But not for me
With love to lead the way
I've found more clouds of grey
Than any Russian play could guarantee

 I was a fool to fall and get that way
Heigh-ho! Alas! And also, lack-a-day
Although I can't dismiss the memory of his kiss
I guess he's not for me

I was a fool to fall and get that way
Heigh-ho! Alas! And also, lack-a-day
Although I can't dismiss the memory of his kiss
I guess he's not for me


Friday, September 16, 2016

The transgenic humans are coming!

Newborn transgenic marmosets Kei (left) and Kou, and their feet under ultraviolet light. (AP Photo/Erika Sasaki)

Taipei Times
"They sound more like a Victorian freak show than science, but researchers say that glow-in-the dark monkeys created in a Japanese lab could be a breakthrough in treating human inherited diseases.
The monkeys were given a gene from a jellyfish and, significantly, it was inherited by their young — the first time a genetically modified animal has passed such genes down a generation. Researchers said it was major step towards understanding Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease. 
Animal rights groups fear it could mean more primates are used in research labs. It also raises the possibility of genetically modifying humans, although such work is illegal in Britain and in most countries."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

U.S. Education is "disastrously awful" and "churns out kids who don't know anything"

Image result for high school graduate
As a college professor, do you know what I can count on these young people knowing when they show up in my classroom? Doodly-squat. Battle of Marathon. Huh? Darwin. Huh? Bach. What? Tolstoy. Now, you're making us upset. But not angry at the wasted years during which they might have been educated , nor ashamed of their own ignorance and eager to do something about it. Just upset, because they were reminded of how empty they are. Brave New World.

The Flight 93 Election
"One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Illegitimacy. Crime. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Politically correct McCarthyism. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks, and at the higher levels saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege. And so on and drearily on. Like that portion of the mass where the priest asks for your private intentions, fill in any dismal fact about American decline that you want and I’ll stipulate it.
Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything. And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems? 
If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.
But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Suicide Attempts of both donor and recipient in first face transplant

Image result for labrador retriever
Not the actual dog. Mlle Dinoire died recently. RIP.

"[Isabelle] Dinoire's dog mauled her face after she passed out from an overdose of sleeping pills.[5] Some reports following the initial surgery claim that her daughter said that the black Labrador cross (named Tania) was "frantically" trying to wake Dinoire after she took sleeping pills in a suicide attempt, and that Dinoire wrote about her suicidal feelings in her own memoir.[6] The hospital denied this,[7] saying that she said she had taken a pill to go to sleep after a family argument and was bitten by her labrador during the night.
In a statement made on 6 February 2006, Dinoire said that "after a very upsetting week, with many personal problems, I took some pills to forget ... I fainted and fell on the ground, hitting a piece of furniture."[8]
Dinoire's daughter reported that the family is sure that the dog, which was euthanized, mutilated Dinoire by accident.[9] They believe that the damage was caused when the dog, finding Dinoire wouldn't wake up, got more and more frantic, and began scratching and clawing her.[9][10] Dinoire was "heartbroken" when Tania was euthanized and kept a picture of the Labrador by her hospital bed;[11] she later adopted a different dog to aid in her recovery after surgery.[9]
Dinoire's injuries affected her nose, lips, chin, and cheeks.[5] She wore a surgical mask to cover the injuries on the lower part of her face, as the upper face was not affected.[9] 
Doctors and the media debated whether the donor and/or the recipient had attempted suicide, with reports stating that the donor had hanged herself.[11] The family of the donor told the funeral director who handled the donor's death that it had been accidental. Local French newspapers stated that Dinoire's daughter said that her mother had attempted suicide. Dubernard said that the recipient had not tried to kill herself. Olivier Jardé, an orthopedic surgeon from Amiens and a member of the French National Assembly, said that both the donor and the recipient had attempted suicide.[12] The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, stated that Dinoire had said in a telephone interview that she had tried to commit suicide.[12] In her 2007 memoir, Dinoire stated that the donor had killed herself, and this "gave Dinoire a feeling of sisterhood" with her.[6]"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY)

Image result for SMPY
We need to find these kids early (age 13) and accelerate and intensify their schooling. As the article suggests, we should attend as closely to academic talent as we do athletic talent. Interesting point about spatial ability, too -- no mention of sex differences, though, which might be one reason those tests are not used.

"In March 1972, [psychologist Julian] Stanley rounded up 450 bright 12- to 14-year-olds from the Baltimore area and gave them the mathematics portion of the SAT. It was the first standardized academic 'talent search'. (Later, researchers included the verbal portion and other assessments.)
“The first big surprise was how many adolescents could figure out math problems that they hadn't encountered in their course work,” says developmental psychologist Daniel Keating, then a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University. “The second surprise was how many of these young kids scored well above the admissions cut-off for many elite universities.”
Stanley hadn't envisioned SMPY as a multi-decade longitudinal study. But after the first follow-up survey, five years later, Benbow proposed extending the study to track subjects through their lives, adding cohorts and including assessments of interests, preferences, and occupational and other life accomplishments. The study's first four cohorts range from the top 3% to the top 0.01% in their SAT scores. The SMPY team added a fifth cohort of the leading mathematics and science graduate students in 1992 to test the generalizability of the talent-search model for identifying scientific potential.
“I don't know of any other study in the world that has given us such a comprehensive look at exactly how and why STEM talent develops,” says Christoph Perleth, a psychologist at the University of Rostock in Germany who studies intelligence and talent development.
Spatial skills 
As the data flowed in, it quickly became apparent that a one-size-fits-all approach to gifted education, and education in general, was inadequate.
“SMPY gave us the first large-sample basis for the field to move away from general intelligence toward assessments of specific cognitive abilities, interests and other factors,” says Rena Subotnik, who directs the Center for Gifted Education Policy at the American Psychological Association in Washington DC.
In 1976, Stanley started to test his second cohort (a sample of 563 13-year-olds who scored in the top 0.5% on the SAT) on spatial ability — the capacity to understand and remember spatial relationships between objects5. Tests for spatial ability might include matching objects that are seen from different perspectives, determining which cross-section will result when an object is cut in certain ways, or estimating water levels on tilted bottles of various shapes. Stanley was curious about whether spatial ability might better predict educational and occupational outcomes than could measures of quantitative and verbal reasoning on their own.
Follow-up surveys — at ages 18, 23, 33 and 48 — backed up his hunch. A 2013 analysis5 found a correlation between the number of patents and peer-refereed publications that people had produced and their earlier scores on SATs and spatial-ability tests. The SAT tests jointly accounted for about 11% of the variance; spatial ability accounted for an additional 7.6%.
The findings, which dovetail with those of other recent studies, suggest that spatial ability plays a major part in creativity and technical innovation. “I think it may be the largest known untapped source of human potential,” says Lubinski, who adds that students who are only marginally impressive in mathematics or verbal ability but high in spatial ability often make exceptional engineers, architects and surgeons. “And yet, no admissions directors I know of are looking at this, and it's generally overlooked in school-based assessments.”"

Monday, September 12, 2016

15th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

I was wondering if the United States was as maudlin about Pearl Harbor on its fifteen anniversary, and I suppose it was. The difference between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 being that Japanese imperialism had been ground into dust 11 years before. For an account of the Pearl Harbor raid, Walter Lord's Day of Infamy can't be beat.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Did I Miss Anything? — Tom Wayman

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Did I Miss Anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

     Everything. I gave an exam worth
     40 percent of the grade for this term
     and assigned some reading due today
     on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
     worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

     Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
     a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
     or other heavenly being appeared
     and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
     to attain divine wisdom in this life and
     the hereafter
     This is the last time the class will meet
     before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

     Everything. Contained in this classroom
     is a microcosm of human experience
     assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
     This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered

     but it was one place

     And you weren’t here

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Say a Little Prayer for You - Dionne Warwick (1967)

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The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair, now
And wondering what dress to wear, now
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I'll love you
Together, together, that's how it must be
To live without you
Would only be heartbreak for me

I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you
At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break-time
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I'll love you
Together, together, that's how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

I say a little prayer for you
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I'll love you
Together, together, that's how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

My darling, believe me
For me there is no one, but you
Please love me, too
I'm in love with you
Answer my prayer
Say you love me, too
Why don't you answer my prayer?
You know, every day I say a little prayer
I said, I say, I say a little prayer


Friday, September 9, 2016

The suicide of the chief scientist at Theranos

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Elizabeth Holmes, billionaire founder of Theranos, and her late chief scientist, Ian Gibbons.

Vanity Fair

"One of [Theranos founder Elizabeth] Holmes’s first major hires, thanks to an introduction by Channing Robertson, was Ian Gibbons, an accomplished British scientist who had a slew of degrees from Cambridge University and had spent 30 years working on diagnostic and therapeutic products. Gibbons was tall and handsome, with straight reddish-brown hair and blue eyes. He had never owned a pair of jeans and spoke with a British accent that was a combination of colloquial and posh. In 2005, Holmes named him chief scientist.
Gibbons, who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after joining the company, encountered a host of issues with the science at Theranos, but the most glaring was simple: the results were off. This conclusion soon led Gibbons to realize that Holmes’s invention was more of an idea than a reality. Still, bound by the scientific method, Gibbons wanted to try every possible direction and exhaust every option. So, for years, while Holmes put her fund-raising talents to use—hiring hundreds of marketers, salespeople, communications specialists, and even the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, who was commissioned to make short industrial documentaries—Gibbons would wake early, walk his dogs along a trail near his home, and then set off for the office before seven A.M. In his downtime, he would read I, Claudius, a novel about a man who plays dumb to unwittingly become the most powerful person on earth.
While Gibbons grew ever more desperate to come up with a solution to the inaccuracies of the blood-testing technology, Holmes presented her company to more investors, and even potential partners, as if it had a working, fully realized product. Holmes adorned her headquarters and Web site with slogans claiming, “One tiny drop changes everything,” and “All the same tests. One tiny sample,” and went into media overdrive. She also proved an effective crisis manager. In 2012, for instance, Holmes began talking to the Department of Defense about using Theranos’s technology on the battlefield in Afghanistan. But specialists at the D.O.D. soon uncovered that the technology wasn’t entirely accurate, and that it had not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. ...
At around the same time, Theranos also decided to sue Richard Fuisz, an old friend and neighbor of Holmes’s family, alleging that he had stolen secrets that belonged to Theranos. As the suit progressed—it was eventually settled—Fuisz’s lawyers issued subpoenas to Theranos executives involved with the “proprietary” aspects of the technology. This included Ian Gibbons. But Gibbons didn’t want to testify. If he told the court that the technology did not work, he would harm the people he worked with; if he wasn’t honest about the technology’s problems, however, consumers could potentially harm their health, maybe even fatally.

Holmes, meanwhile, did not seem willing to tolerate his resistance, according to his wife, Rochelle Gibbons. Even though Gibbons had warned that the technology wasn’t ready for the public, Holmes was preparing to open “Theranos Wellness Centers” in dozens of Walgreens across Arizona. “Ian felt like he would lose his job if he told the truth,” Rochelle told me as she wept one summer morning in Palo Alto. “Ian was a real obstacle for Elizabeth. He started to be very vocal. They kept him around to keep him quiet.” Channing Robertson, who had brought Gibbons to Theranos, recalls a different conversation, noting, “He suggested to me on numerous occasions that what we had accomplished at that time was sufficient to commercialize.”
A few months later, on May 16, 2013, Gibbons was sitting in the family room with Rochelle, the afternoon light draping the couple, when the telephone rang. He answered. It was one of Holmes’s assistants. When Gibbons hung up, he was beside himself. “Elizabeth wants to meet with me tomorrow in her office,” he told his wife in a quivering voice. “Do you think she’s going to fire me?” Rochelle Gibbons, who had spent a lot of time with Holmes, knew that she wanted control. “Yes,” she said to her husband, reluctantly. She told him she thought he was going to be fired. Later that evening, gripped and overwhelmed with worry, Ian Gibbons tried to commit suicide. He was rushed to the hospital. A week later, with his wife by his side, Ian Gibbons died.
When Rochelle called Holmes’s office to explain what had happened, the secretary was devastated and offered her sincere condolences. She told Rochelle Gibbons that she would let Holmes know immediately. But a few hours later, rather than a condolence message from Holmes, Rochelle instead received a phone call from someone at Theranos demanding that she immediately return any and all confidential Theranos property."


Thursday, September 8, 2016

What is intelligence and why is it important?

Image result for general intelligence and life outcomes

Plomin & Deary (2015)
"Although there are many types of cognitive ability tests of individual differences, they almost all correlate substantially and positively; people with higher ability on one cognitive task tend to have higher ability on all of the others. Intelligence (more precisely, general cognitive ability or g, as discovered and defined by Spearman in 190417) indexes this covariance, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the total variance when a battery of diverse cognitive tests is administered to a sample with a good range of cognitive ability.18,19 As long as a battery of cognitive tests is diverse and reliable, a general ‘factor’ (often represented by the first unrotated principal component, which is not strictly a factor, but that is the terminology that is often used) indexing intelligence differences will emerge and correlate highly with such factors derived from other batteries using wholly different cognitive tests.20 The general intelligence component (factor) is a universally found statistical regularity, which means that some have tried to provide an epithet for what it might capture. According to one view, the core of this general intelligence factor is ‘the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience’ (Gottfredson et al.21 p.13; see also Deary22). Intelligence is at the pinnacle of the hierarchical model of cognitive abilities that includes a middle level of group factors, such as the cognitive domains of verbal and spatial abilities and memory, and a third level of specific tests and their associated narrow cognitive skills.18,23
Intelligence is important scientifically and socially. Because intelligence represents individual differences in brain processes working in concert to solve problems, it is central to systems approaches to brain structure and function,24, 25, 26 and to the conceptualisation of how diverse cognitive abilities decline with age.27 It is also one of the most stable behavioural traits, yielding a correlation of 0.63 in a study of people tested at age 11 and then again at age 79.28 Socially, intelligence is one of the best predictors of key outcomes such as education and occupational status.29 People with higher intelligence tend to have better mental and physical health and fewer illnesses throughout the life course, and longer lives.22,30
...It would be reasonable to assume that as we go through life, experiences—Shakespeare’s ‘whips and scorns of time’—have a cumulative effect on intelligence, perhaps overwhelming early genetic predispositions. However, for intelligence, heritability increases linearly, from (approximately) 20% in infancy to 40% in adolescence, and to 60% in adulthood. Some evidence suggests that heritability might increase to as much as 80% in later adulthood47 but then decline to about 60% after age 80.48"

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Moby-Dick, Chapter XVII The Ramadan -- Herman Melville (1819-1891)

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Chapter XVII
The Ramadan
AS Queequeg’s Ramadan, or Fasting and Humiliation, was to continue all day, I did not choose to disturb him till toward night-fall; for I cherish the greatest respect toward everybody’s religious obligations, never mind how comical, and could not find it in my heart to undervalue even a congregation of ants worshipping a toad-stool; or those other creatures in certain parts of our earth, who with a degree of footmanism quite unprecedented in other planets, bow down before the torso of a deceased landed proprietor merely on account of the inordinate possessions yet owned and rented in his name.
  I say, we good Presbyterian Christians should be charitable in these things, and not fancy ourselves so vastly superior to other mortals, pagans and what not, because of their half-crazy conceits on these subjects. There was Queequeg, now, certainly entertaining the most absurd notions about Yojo and his Ramadan;—but what of that? Queequeg thought he knew what he was about, I suppose; he seemed to be content; and there let him rest. All our arguing with him would not avail; let him be, I say: and Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Amy Bishop, denied tenure, shoots up departmental meeting (2010)

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Amy Bishop -- another gun-toting former academic. By the way, she killed her brother when she was a teenager, as the linked article details. Some nice writing from The New Yorker.

The New Yorker
"Amy Bishop, a neurobiologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, sat down at the conference table just moments before the faculty meeting began. It was three o’clock on February 12, 2010, and thirteen professors and staff members in the biology department had crowded into a windowless conference room on the third floor of the Shelby Center for Science and Technology. The department chair, a plant biologist named Gopi Podila, distributed a printed agenda. Bishop was sitting next to him, in a spot by the door. Inside her handbag was a gun.
Bishop was forty-five, with a long, pale face framed by dark hair that she wore in a pageboy, her bangs slashed just above her small blue eyes. She was normally a vocal participant in departmental meetings, but on this occasion she was silent, and she appeared to be brooding. There was an obvious explanation: a year earlier, the department had denied Bishop’s bid for tenure, and her protracted and increasingly desperate efforts to appeal the decision had been fruitless. When the semester ended, she knew, her job would end, as well. Much of Podila’s agenda concerned plans for the next semester, so there was another plausible reason for Bishop’s withdrawn manner: she didn’t really need to be there.
A biochemist named Debra Moriarity watched Bishop from across the table. Moriarity knew all about Bishop’s tenure woes; they had developed a friendship since Bishop had arrived on campus as an assistant professor, in 2003. They often talked about their families: Bishop had four children (her oldest, Lily, was a student at Huntsville); Moriarity had recently become a grandmother. Moriarity had voted against Bishop’s receiving tenure, and Bishop knew it, but they had remained cordial, and Bishop had confided in Moriarity about her professional despair. “My life is over,” she had said at one point. Moriarity reassured her that she would find another position. “It’s just a matter of the fit,” Moriarity said. During the meeting, she made a mental note to ask Bishop how her search for a new job was going.
For fifty minutes, Bishop said nothing. Then, just as the meeting was concluding, she stood up, pulled out the gun, a 9-mm. Ruger semiautomatic, and shot Podila in the head. The blast was deafening. She fired again, hitting a department assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. Next, Bishop turned and shot Adriel Johnson, a cell biologist. People screamed and ducked for cover, but Bishop was blocking the only door. Moriarity did not fully register what was happening until she saw Bishop—her jaw set, her brow furrowed—train the gun on a fourth colleague, Maria Ragland Davis, and shoot her.
Moriarity dived under the table. With gunshots ringing out above her, she flung her arms around Bishop’s legs, looked up, and screamed, “Amy, don’t do this! Think of my daughter! Think of my grandson!” Bishop looked down—then turned the gun on Moriarity.
Click. Moriarity, in terror, stared at the gun. Click. The weapon had jammed. Moriarity crawled past Bishop and into the hallway; Bishop followed her, repeatedly squeezing the trigger. As Bishop tried to fix the gun, Moriarity scrambled back into the conference room and another colleague barricaded the door. The room, a prosecutor later said, looked “like a bomb went off. Like a war zone.” Six people had been shot, three of them fatally. The entire episode had lasted less than a minute."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lunacy among the English Aristocracy: John Wallop, Third Earl of Portsmouth

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"Urania [mother of John Charles Wallop, third Earl of Portsmouth] ordered that her son be strapped to his bed. She also threatened to place him in the custody of the chief physician at Bethlem, England’s most notorious madhouse. Her own sister had grown paranoid during the years of the French Revolution, convinced that her life was under threat from the insurgent masses of Twickenham. She spent the rest of her days confined to an asylum. Another of Portsmouth’s relatives kidnapped the woman he loved at pistol-point, and later declared that he was the figure described in the Book of Revelations as bringing peace on earth. He also challenged Napoleon to single combat. He, too, ended up in what was politely known as a Private House. The family were well schooled in how to close down any members who threatened to become a public embarrassment, and Wallop could be forgiven for suspecting that he was next in line.
Instead, Urania found another kind of keeper for her wayward son in the form of a wife, Grace Norton, whom he married in 1799. At 47 years of age, 15 years older than the earl himself, she seemed sufficiently mature and level-headed to keep him safely bridled. ...
Grace proved an excellent mother to Portsmouth, who to the astonishment of his dinner guests would sometimes stop eating, lay his head on her neck, fondle her affectionately and sob loudly, while she humoured him like a fractious child. He would then resume eating with a hearty appetite. He also took to arranging secret meetings in the woods with young working-class women from around the estate – not for the traditional patrician purpose, but so that they might bleed him with a case of lancets he carried around with him. Since he paid the women for doing so, he was rarely short of volunteers. One volunteer reported that Portsmouth was obsessed with how women’s pockets bulged out, believing that this was because they carried basins under their skirts in which to collect the blood of the men they bled. Spilling his blood into female basins seems to have been his substitute for sexual intercourse, an activity with which he was unfamiliar in both theory and practice. He scoffed incredulously at a member of his staff who tried to inform him of the facts of life, and seemed to believe that a woman’s pregnancy lasted for nine years. Brothels he regarded as places where gentlemen went armed with their lancets. He did, however, have some acquaintance with masturbation, since on some occasions when his arm was tied for him to be bled he would delightedly watch the rising of the veins while applying his other hand to a similarly tumescent part of his body. It was, he told his doctor, the only situation in which he ever had an erection. Given a choice between giving up his wife and his case of lancets, he added, there was no question of which he would abandon.
Compared with his so-called black jobs, however, being bled in the woods seems relatively rational. ‘Black jobs’ was the name Portsmouth gave to those of his activities which involved a morbid obsession with death. When the young daughter of one of his workmen was dying, the earl, to whom the girl was a complete unknown, insisted on being present at her death and had to be forcibly prevented from entering the house by her outraged father. The workman was able to allow his daughter to die in peace, but only at the cost of not being present at her deathbed himself.
Portsmouth also turned up uninvited at funerals. On one occasion he posed as chief mourner at the burial of a total stranger, and gleefully reported that he was served turkey and wine at the lunch that followed. He would request his servants to place logs on their shoulders as though they were coffins, and would then walk behind the bogus cortège singing psalms. He knew all the main hearse drivers in London, and would visit undertakers to find out if there were any forthcoming funerals. He would then join the procession in his phaeton, driving so close as to scrape the wheels of the mourning coaches while laughing and shaking his whip. Admirably egalitarian in his necrophiliac tastes, he once accompanied to the grave the body of a former servant of his who had landed up in a lunatic asylum. When his park keeper told him that his wife was seriously ill, Portsmouth replied that he was glad of it and hoped she would die soon. It was not quite the attitude of a model paternalist landlord. At the funeral of another servant, he winked and laughed constantly at the scandalised members of the congregation. There were times, however, when it proved difficult not to join in his merriment. When he officiated at burials, he would read out psalms by the graveside in such a droll manner that some mourners had to stifle their laughter."