Posts Tagged ‘neuroscience’
* Having a monetary value tied to human incarceration and justice creates a deeply perverse incentive that should not exist in the world of commerce. When the for-profit prison industry places the iron fist of criminal justice in the invisible hands of the market and sells it as a cost-cutting measure, it is hard not to interpret as anything but the predatory capitalism of a self-perpetuating slave state.
* Just end the filibuster. This is a no-brainer.
Following the events of last week, in which a crazed western lowland gorilla ruthlessly murdered 21 people in a local shopping plaza after escaping from the San Diego Zoo, sources across the country confirmed Thursday that national gorilla sales have since skyrocketed.
“After seeing yet another deranged gorilla just burst into a public place and start killing people, I decided I need to make sure something like that never happens to me,” said 34-year-old Atlanta resident Nick Keller, shortly after purchasing a 350-pound mountain gorilla from his local gorilla store. “It just gives me peace of mind knowing that if I’m ever in that situation, I won’t have to just watch helplessly as my torso is ripped in half and my face is chewed off. I’ll be able to use my gorilla to defend myself.”
* 56 Up now playing in the US. I can’t wait.
* For the fiscal year, which for most schools ends this June, 18% of 165 private universities and 15% of 127 public universities project a decline in net tuition revenue. That is a sharp rise from the estimated declines among 10% of the 152 private schools and 4% of the 105 public schools in fiscal 2012.
* Google will now translate into Flanders. (Not really-a-doodly.)
* Horrifying: On zombie foreclosure.
* And on the science fiction beat: Joss Whedon Directing SHIELD Pilot Right Now, Already Working On Scripts For Later In The Series. Christopher Nolan’s next movie is called Interstellar. For the 50th anniversary, five Doctors and a cavalcade of Companions will reunite…on an audio special. Fan hopes science will prove tragic Firefly death never happened. And Y: The Last Man has a director: the unknown fan director of that Portal fan film.
* The Portal 2s that could have been. I do, I happily admit, want to play all of these.
* Drop everything! My brilliant friend and colleague Melody Jue is now blogging at Philosophy of Water.
* At right is your photo of the day: An aurora over Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland.
* Joss Whedon explains how to write a sequel.
* “I have not heard of another hug”: Janet Bell, Derrick Bell’s widow, speaks out.
* Pat Robertson gets one right: he says we ought to legalize it.
* The Seuss book no one’s bought us (yet): The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family.
* Jacob Burak crunches the odds on Russian Roulette. But he’s completely failed to account for the quantum immortality factor.
* Science quantifies the Tina Fey effect.
“When all other variables in the model are held at their mean, those who watched the SNL clip had a 45.4 percent probability of saying that Palin’s nomination made them less likely to vote for McCain,” they write. “This same probability drops to 34 percent among those who saw coverage of the debate through other media. Exposure to the clip had no significant effect on the likelihood of voting for Obama.”
* When Terry Kneiss wins a Showcase Showdown, son, he wins it.
* For more than two years, Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded every roll call at the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn and captured his superiors urging police officers to do two things in order to manipulate the “stats” that the department is under pressure to produce: Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports. I’m shocked, shocked! Followup to this This American Life story.
* The headline reads, “Breakthrough Alzheimer’s treatment stops brain damage in mice.”
* And TPM has today’s sci-fi architecture porn.
The headline reads, “Breakthrough: The First Sound Recordings Based on Reading People’s Minds.” You may remember they’ve already done sight.
* The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen: Berkeley Researchers Turn Brain Waves Into YouTube Videos.
* Paul Campos: “The law’s absurd formalism was part of its strength as ideology.” Precisely. This insight applies to many more aspects of the legal system than the revolting spectacle of our contemporary system of capital punishment, which in a case such as Davis’s — which is not in this respect was not unusual — psychologically tortures the defendant, the defendant’s family, the victim’s family, and others connected to the case for literally decades before producing what the system then has the temerity to call “justice.” (The climax of this spectacle last night involved Davis being strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for nearly four hours, waiting for various legal personages to respond to the question of whether, all things considered, it was finally time to stop his heart with state-administered poison).
That we tolerate this kind of thing so readily helps explain, in its own way, why it sometimes seems impossible to do much of anything about the absurdities and dysfunctions of the system of legal education that legitimates it in the first instance. Or perhaps it’s the other way around: perhaps we tolerate the absurdity of something like the 22-year “process” that resulted in the horror of Davis’s final hours because we ‘re socialized from the beginning of our careers in this system to accept all kinds of absurdity and injustice as natural, inevitable, and therefore legitimate.
Reading this I was reminded of Duncan Kennedy’s excellent article “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” which Corinne linked the other day on Twitter.
* Ground Zero Mosque opens without controversy. It’s almost as if the objections to this were complete bullshit.
* I’m steadfastly not paying attention to the GOP primary, but this is pretty astounding, even by Republican standards.
* How long—how long must we sing this song? Forty years, give or take.
* Speaking at a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the Maldives, the TckTckTck campaign, and the U.N., Greenpeace International President Kumi Naidoo argued that the path to a sustainable future will involve peaceful, popular civil disobedience. “The struggle for climate justice is not a popularity contest,” he argued. He said the lesson of the Arab Spring, and the history of struggles from suffrage to civil rights to the end of apartheid, is that change only comes when decent men and women are willing to risk their lives and go to jail in peaceful protest.
* And Chris Ware on your iPad. Have a good weekend.
* Two articles I read on the plane: “The Brain on Trial” and Aleksander Hemon’s account of his young daughter’s illness. The latter is only available offline, which (trust me) is for the best. By the end I was nearly bawling. For your own happiness do not read this article.
* The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop. He reveals that top administration lawyers — Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers. But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions: his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.
“I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults,” Perry wrote in his explanation of one of his vetoes.
Perry said in his veto statement that the key to stopping people from texting while driving is “information and education.”
* Mightygodking highlights ethical interpretation with twenty-five movies distilled to a one-sentence moral.
* And Love These Pics takes us on another trip to the New Orleans Six Flags Theme Park abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.
The insurgency against the DSM-5 (the APA has decided to shed the Roman numerals) has now spread far beyond just Allen Frances. Psychiatrists at the top of their specialties, clinicians at prominent hospitals, and even some contributors to the new edition have expressed deep reservations about it. Dissidents complain that the revision process is in disarray and that the preliminary results, made public for the first time in February 2010, are filled with potential clinical and public relations nightmares. Although most of the dissenters are squeamish about making their concerns public—especially because of a surprisingly restrictive nondisclosure agreement that all insiders were required to sign—they are becoming increasingly restive, and some are beginning to agree with Frances that public pressure may be the only way to derail a train that he fears will “take psychiatry off a cliff.” If you’re interested, there’s also a classic This American Life on the fight over removing homosexuality from the DSM-IV. Via MetaFilter.
* The Wrong Side of the Heart: this weekend’s dose of vintage movie poster greatness.
* AskMetaFilter has all the huge-nerd podcasts I crave.
* Dr. Metzinger first proposes his thesis: there is no such thing as the self. The subjective sense of being a conscious person – the sense of being a self that is distinct from the body and present in a single, unified reality – is not a separate, coherent brain function but rather the result of many different systems running at the same time. I was telling you people this years ago!
* Four lesser-known members of the Fantastic Four. I’d never even heard of She-Thing.
The last dozen years or so have seen the emergence of a new strain within the Anglo-American novel. What has been variously referred to as the novel of consciousness or the psychological or confessional novel—the novel, at any rate, about the workings of a mind—has transformed itself into the neurological novel, wherein the mind becomes the brain. Since 1997, readers have encountered, in rough chronological order, Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love (de Clérambault’s syndrome, complete with an appended case history by a fictional “presiding psychiatrist” and a useful bibliography), Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn (Tourette’s syndrome), Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (autism), Richard Powers’s The Echomaker (facial agnosia, Capgras syndrome), McEwan again with Saturday (Huntington’s disease, as diagnosed by the neurosurgeon protagonist), Atmospheric Disturbances (Capgras syndrome again) by a medical school graduate, Rivka Galchen, and John Wray’s Lowboy (paranoid schizophrenia). And these are just a selection of recently published titles in “literary fiction.” There are also many recent genre novels, mostly thrillers, of amnesia, bipolar disorder, and multiple personality disorder. As young writers in Balzac walk around Paris pitching historical novels with titles like The Archer of Charles IX, in imitation of Walter Scott, today an aspiring novelist might seek his subject matter in a neglected corner or along some new frontier of neurology.
SM is a woman without fear. She doesn’t feel it. She has been held at knifepoint without a tinge of panic. She’ll happily handle live snakes and spiders, even though she claims not to like them. She can sit through reels of upsetting footage without a single start. And all because a pair of almond-shaped structures in her brain – amygdalae – have been destroyed. Via outlandishmarxist.
“In some sense, I use my literary fiction as a channel to explore ideas that I come up with during the day,” he told me.
For example, consider how the data in your brain determines your identity. “For a long time, there’s been this open question of what it would be like to be someone else – or to be something else,” he said. “Once you’re John Malkovich, you wouldn’t remember what it’s like not to be John Malkovich.”
That spawned Eagleman’s little story about cross-species reincarnation, titled “Descent of Species”: Suppose you admired the strength and beauty of horses, and you got the chance to become a horse in your next life. Once you become a horse, would you have enough wits to appreciate that life, or even enough wits to choose the life after that? And if that’s the case, what unwitting demigods might we humans have been in our past lives?
Other stories play off the fact that existential meaning doesn’t scale well. “What would happen if we showed Shakespeare to a dog or a bacterium?” Eagleman asked. “It’s pointless, because what’s meaningful to you changes by spatial scale.”
For example, a microbial God might reserve the afterlife strictly for microbes, with humans merely serving as part of the scenery. Or the universe might be ruled by a cosmic Giantess who is as indifferent to our fate as we are to the fate of an amoeba.
* Scientific American considers the cognitive advantages of depression.
* Marginal Revolution has a nature/nuture post on educational outcomes in adoptees.
* …last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.
Among their choices: James Patterson‘s adrenaline-fueled “Maximum Ride” books, plenty of young-adult chick-lit novels and even the “Captain Underpants” series of comic-book-style novels. You had me until “Captain Underpants.” (via Vu)
The neurology of swearing: a study recently published in NeuroReport suggest curse words may have pain-relieving effects.
Headlines to build my dissertation around: “Remembering the Past Is Like Imagining the Future.”
Getting everything together for the big roundtable this Friday is keeping me fairly busy, so it’s just links tonight.
* Sad news: Eve Sedgwick has died.
* ‘Pentagon Prioritizes Pursuit Of Alternative Fuel Sources.’ With the military-industrial complex at our back, we can’t fail!
In the “City of God,” St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.” St. Augustine thought the pirate’s answer was “elegant and excellent.”
* The mutants walk among us: ‘Woman has developed an imaginary, but useful, third arm.’
* 7 (Crazy) Civilian Uses for Nuclear Bombs. What could possibly go wrong?