Content Advisory

Content Advisory: Whereas: this blog occasionally employs "colorful language,"

may also occasionally contain implicit and explicit references to

tobacco, alcohol, and other substances, as well as sexuality,

and favors logic over dogma, any or all of which may offend some,

and whereas I may occasionally give disclaimers,

but I do NOT give "trigger warnings,"

therefore, be it resolved that: this blog is intended for mature readers.

However, this blog is not age-restricted.



Saturday, August 31, 2013

Research Suggests Porn Is Not The Boogeyman

From The Guardian:

Does pornography lead to broken relationships, oppression of women and sexual aggression? Research suggests not ...

In fact, despite the concerns of politicians and conservative media, psychological research into the negative consequences of pornography is surprisingly ambivalent. ...

What psychological research is showing repeatedly is that many of the assumptions about mainstream pornography use – that it ruins relationships, denigrates women and leads to sexual aggression – might be wrong.

Read more:
The ups and downs of porn: sexism, relationships and sexual aggression

Guilt is Catching

From the British Psychological Society's Research Digest:

Shaking hands with a cheat or thief, or merely sitting in a chair they used, is likely to make you experience feelings of guilt. That's according to a new study, the first to demonstrate "moral transfer" between people.
Read more:
Guilt is catching

New Issue of History of Psychiatry Available Online




From Advances in the History of Psychology:

The September 2013 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the Weberian influence on Karl Jaspers’ work, psychiatric analyses of Bavarian royalty, Swedish child psychiatry, and more.

Read more:

New Hist. of Psychiatry: Karl Jaspers, Bavarian Royals, & More

Anwybodaeth -- English-Speaking Officials Make Eggregious Mistake on Bilingual Sign in Wales

English-speaking officials requested a translation into Welsh for a road sign.  The result was an embarrassing error on the part of those English-speaking officials.

Read more in the BBC article.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NSA and GCHQ: the flawed psychology of government mass surveillance

NSA and GCHQ: the flawed psychology of government mass surveillance

Research shows that indiscriminate monitoring fosters distrust, conformity and mediocrity


While pundits have argued vigorously about the merits and drawbacks of such programs, the voice of science has remained relatively quiet. This is despite the fact that science, alone, can lay claim to a wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of surveillance. Studying that evidence leads to a clear conclusion and a warning: indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future.
Read more at The Guardian.


NSA Illegally Supplying Intel to DEA, IRS, and Other Agencies?

AG Holder pressed to explain DEA use of hidden data evidence


Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.

The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism. ...

The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA's Special Operations Division funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The documents show that agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin - to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.

Read more here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

United Nations says it will contact United States over spying report

United Nations says it will contact United States over spying report


And while we're on the subject of whistle-blowers, both Manning and Snowden were ethically obligated to not keep silent.  Among the information revealed by Snowden is a claim that the US government has spied on the United Nations:

Citing secret U.S. documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Germany's Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that the United States succeeded in gaining access to the internal U.N. video conferencing system in 2012.

Read more here.

Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana

Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana

More and more police officers are realizing the War on Drugs is a mistake


All of these are very compelling reasons to legalize Cannabis.  Let's also remember the medical value of the herb, as I reported here in an earlier post.  And that post's contents are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the medical benefits of Cannabis.  Remember, Clarence Thomas is not a medical expert.

The Fight for Trans Rights in the Military

The Fight for Trans Rights in the Military

Transgender Flag by Jennifer Pellinen




While the successful repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) means sexual orientation is now protected, gender identity is not. And although gender dysphoria is considered a medical disqualification, discharges may be classified as "administrative," potentially limiting troops' future access to VA healthcare. ...

As a medical student, Jai feels especially astounded by the discrimination trans* people face when it comes to accessing necessary health care. "It's comparable to a person with type II diabetes or hypothyroidism not having their medication covered," Jai says.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

For those in doubt about the fact that this is a medical issue, with physical causes, several articles in peer-reviewed, scholarly and scientific journals are linked in A.E.Brain: Transsexual and Intersex Gender Identity, which also contains records from an Australian Supreme Court decision.  It's well worth reading, so educate yourselves, because objecting out of ignorance or prejudice is simply wrong.

In somewhat related news, Matt Taibbi discussed the Chelsea Manning (formerly "Bradley" Manning) case in a masterful critique of the press reports on the subject:  As Bradley Manning Trial Begins, Press Predictably Misses the Point.

Among other things, he writes:

All of this shit is disgraceful. It's Chumpbait.

If I was working for the Pentagon's PR department as a hired press Svengali, with my salary eating up some of the nearly five billion dollars the armed services spends annually on advertising and public relations, I would be telling my team to pump reporters over and over again with the same angle.

I would beat it into the head of every hack on this beat that the court-martial is about a troubled young man with gender identity problems, that the key issue of law here rests inside the mind of young PFC Manning, that the only important issue of fact for both a jury and the American people to decide is exactly the question in these headlines.

Is Manning a hero, or a traitor? Did he give thousands of files to Wikileaks out of a sense of justice and moral horror, or did he do it because he had interpersonal problems, because he couldn't keep his job, because he was a woman trapped in a man's body, because he was a fame-seeker, because he was lonely?
The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have stated that Transsexuality is indeed a physical medical issue (with psychological aspects).  It's not "all in their heads," in the sense of it being purely psychological;  it's not purely psychological -- the causes are physical.  As Chaz Bono stated, it's a "birth defect," and the sooner the evidence presented in the blog post by Zoe becomes common knowledge, the better off everyone will be (except those who are delusional, refusing to accept any evidence contrary to their preconceived ideas -- although they could benefit from this information as well, if they would allow themselves to learn).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Giada De Laurentiis to Open Her First Restaurant!!!

Giada De Laurentiis to Open Her First Restaurant in Las Vegas

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!  I love her shows and her book.  I have some of her cookware from Target.  I've used the pasta sauce she sells through Target.  She is AMAZING!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Great Bird of the Galaxy!



Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the American Epic (more commonly known as Star Trek), known far and wide to his fans as "The Great Bird of the Galaxy," would have been 92 today.  Star Trek took the highest ideals of America (both the US and Canada), and wrote them larger than life, while not doing so in a naive manner that would have been blind to the faults that existed at the time (some of which still unfortunately persist).  He gave us a vision of what we could become, if we strive for the realization of those ideals.  Gene Roddenberry at Memory Alpha.


RIP, o Great Bird of the Galaxy.  Your memory is cherished in the hearts of many.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Debunked: ‘Right-Brain’ and ‘Left-Brain’ Personalities




From PsyBlog:

Debunked: ‘Right-Brain’ and ‘Left-Brain’ Personalities

See also:
The Truth About The Left Brain / Right Brain Relationship


Why Men Need Women

From PsyBlog:

Why Men Need Women


Things you might want to know about people who believe in pure evil

From The British Psychological Society's Research Digest, results of an interesting study:

Things you might want to know about people who believe in pure evil

Psychologists have devised two new scales for assessing people's belief in pure evil and pure good - characteristics they say have important links with broader attitudes towards altruism and the use of violence. ...

Scores on the two scales are entirely uncorrelated suggesting they are measuring distinct constructs. ...

Most revealing is the other attitudes and beliefs that went hand in hand with high scoring on the two new measures. Tests with over 400 students found that a strong belief in pure evil went together with more support for the death penalty, for torture, preemptive state aggression, reactive state aggression (if the USA were threatened by Iran), and racial prejudice, alongside belief in a dangerous and vile world, less support for criminal rehabilitation, and opposition to proracial policies and social programmes.

Belief in pure good tended to coincide with more empathy, a preference for diplomatic solutions and humanitarian wars, support for reactive aggression (if Iran threatened any of its own neighbours or threatened the USA), support for some prosocial programmes (for children), but less support for torture, and less belief in a competitive jungle world.

Dualism is metaphysically and ethically unsatisfactory, and has plagued Western cultures for over a thousand years.  I've been working on a post about Dualism as the Scourge of Western Societies for a while, but it's not ready for publication yet.

“Please don’t let my daughter die, Governor.”

‘Please don’t let my daughter die’: Father begs Chris Christie to legalize medical marijuana [VIDEO]

An aggrieved father confronted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a campaign stop on Wednesday, begging the Republican to sign into law a bill that would provide easier access to medical marijuana for children, CBS New York reports.

Brian Wilson’s 2-year-old daughter Vivian is diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare and potentially lethal form of epilepsy. She wears glasses to avoid having light trigger seizures and has stopped breathing twice during epileptic episodes, her parents said.

Chris Christie Confronted By Dad Over Medical Marijuana For Kids [Video]

Last month, Christie expressed reservations about the bill during a radio program. “I’m concerned about expanding the program. And I want to make sure that if we do it, we do it in a way that is helpful to children, does not reduce any of the requirements of the program; to make sure this does not go down a slippery slope of broadening the program and making it easier (for unqualified people) to get marijuana.”

Non Causa Pro Causa is a type of the logical fallacy known as "Slippery Slope."  A logical fallacy is an incorrect inference form, or, more prosaically, an example of faulty reasoning.  We've seen this before from the Right Wing (and in particular, "the Religious Right"), for example in connection with Marriage Equality (in which they not only commit the fallacy of Non Causa Pro Causa, but also the fallacy of Argumentum ad Hominem, specifically in the Abusive ad Hominem variety, by essentially equating Gay Marriage with pedophilia, bestality, etc).  Fallacy is in fact all too common from politicians of every party and ideology, but an ideology which glorifies ignorance, prejudice, superstition and irrationality, such as does the Religious Right, is obviously more likely to make use of erroneous reasoning.

But, Donna Giovanna, isn't there something else the little girl can take?

No, as seen in this article (and blatantly stated in the CNN broadcast today):
Chris Christie expected to announce decision on medical marijuana bill

Brian Wilson's 2-year-old daughter, Vivian, suffers a version of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Normal epilepsy medications have so far failed to work for Vivian, and her family believes a certain type of medical marijuana -- one with high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD -- may be able to help. High-CBD strains of marijuana have helped other patients with Dravet Syndrome.

You'll note in the videos that Christie believes that his office entitles him to "make these decisions."  Au contraire.  The Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution say otherwise.

But just who is this Governor Chris Christie, anyway?

Chris Christie is the favorite for the GOP's super-rich:  The GOP wants the New Jersey governor to save the party from Sen. Rand Paul's libertarian wing

The donor class that wanted Christie, settled for Romney, and wants Christie again needs a candidate who’ll slash at regulation in office and come off patriotic (and pro-Israel) enough to actually get into office. ...

Every week there’s another reminder that the GOP’s libertarian wing hasn’t truly overcome the Bush wing. Back in Aspen, Christie gave them more fresh evidence. “President Obama has done nothing to change the policies of the Bush administration in the war on terrorism,” he said. “I mean practically nothing. You know why? Because they work.”
Violations of the Bill of Rights do NOT work.  They instead promote the causes of hatred of "our freedoms" which George W. Bush alleged was the motivation of the terrorists.


BREAKING NEWS:
From CNN:  "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supports easing access to medical marijuana for sick children."
... but issues a qualified veto of the bill.

I'll update this later when a full article will hopefully be ready from a news source, but the quoted bit above can currently be found at the top of the same CNN article linked above;  it does not yet mention the qualified veto, which was discussed on CNN moments ago.

UPDATE:
New Jersey Gov Christie to ease access to medical marijuana for children

Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana.

However, the governor conditionally vetoed a bill on the issue because it goes further than he was willing to go.

America, is this the person you want to be the President?  I'll be voting against him myself.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sinkholes

Overdevelopment widens Florida sinkhole problem

Some geological experts believe the sinkhole activity is increasing because developers are pumping more water out of the ground for new projects or for agricultural use. While acid in the water itself is what causes the limestone under much of Florida to dissipate and create the holes, the water also acts as a support. Add water from heavy rains on the top soil, and you've got a bigger problem.

I wonder if any geological experts have considered the possibility that a different sort of pumping might be responsible, namely, the pumping of oil out of the ground.  That possibility, however, might be too controversial for them to take on.

NYC officials to appeal federal 'stop and frisk' judgment

NYC officials to appeal federal 'stop and frisk' judgment

New York City officials say they are ready to begin their appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that a controversial NYPD tactic known as “stop and frisk” violates the constitutional rights of blacks and Hispanics. ...

“Crime can come back anytime the criminals think that they’re going to get away with things. We just cannot let that happen,” the mayor said. Over the course of his nearly 12 years leading the city, the New York’s murder rate has fallen by half.

The tactic in question allows police to stop and pat down ("frisk") anyone they deem suspicious. Scheindlin found it was used 4.4 million times between 2004 and 2012, and that 80 percent of the stops were of blacks and Hispanics.

In her ruling, she wrote, “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.”

 Guess what?  If the police have "probable cause," they can get a search warrant.  If they don't have a search warrant, they're already violating the US Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment, which says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Note:  "in their persons."

Appealing to fear of crime in an effort to justify the violation of the civil rights and liberties of the people is not only an example of the fallacy of Argumentum ad Passiones (Appeal to Emotion), it's also a favorite tactic of demagogues and authoritarians.  This is America.  Gestapo tactics, Stasi tactics, KGB tactics, NKVD tactics -- none of this is used in free societies.   If this is to continue to be America, the ruling must stand.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

He may win some battles, but she will win the war.

Guys planning to marry gals and guys who are already married to gals, listen up.

The sooner you learn the wisdom of this honorable warrior, the better off you'll be:

Martok on Marriage

Cannabis Fights Cancer

The National Institutes of Health support this claim:
National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health

A portion of this page reads as follows:

Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using Cannabis or cannabinoids?
Preclinical studies of cannabinoids have investigated the following activities:
Antitumor activity
  • Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
  • A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
  • A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
  • A laboratory study of cannabidiol in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells.
  • A laboratory study of cannabidiol in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, cannabidiol may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells.
Stimulating appetite
  • Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.
Pain relief
  • Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been studied in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body to understand their roles in pain relief.
  • Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.
Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of Cannabis or cannabinoid use by cancer patients been conducted?
No clinical trials of Cannabis as a treatment for cancer in humans have been found in the CAM on PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health.
Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in clinical trials for ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, including the following:
Nausea and vomiting
  • Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: Two cannabinoid drugs approved in the United States are available under the names dronabinol and nabilone. Both dronabinol and nabilone are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in patients who have not responded to standard therapy. Many clinical trials have shown that both dronabinol and nabilone worked as well as or better than some of the weaker FDA-approved drugs to relieve nausea and vomiting. Newer drugs given for chemotherapy-related nausea have not been directly compared with Cannabis or cannabinoids in cancer patients.
  • Inhaled Cannabis: Three small trials have studied inhaled Cannabis for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Various study methods and chemotherapy agents were used with mixed results. There is not enough information to interpret these findings.
Stimulating appetite
  • Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: A clinical trial compared delta-9-THC (dronabinol) and a standard drug (megestrol) in patients with advanced cancer and loss of appetite. Results showed that delta-9-THC was not as effective in increasing appetite or weight gain in advanced cancer patients compared with standard therapy. However, a clinical trial of patients with HIV/AIDS and weight loss found that those who took delta-9-THC had increased appetite and stopped losing weight compared with patients who took a placebo.
  • Inhaled Cannabis: There are no published studies of the effect of inhaled Cannabis on cancer patients with loss of appetite. Studies of healthy people who inhaled Cannabis showed that they consumed more calories, especially high-fat and sweet snacks.
Pain relief
  • Combining cannabinoids with opioids: In a small study of 21 patients with chronic pain, vaporized Cannabis was added to slow-release oxycodone or morphine and given for five days. Results showed that combining vaporized Cannabis with morphine relieved pain better than morphine alone, while combining vaporized Cannabis with oxycodone did not produce significantly greater pain relief. These findings should be tested in further studies.
  • Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: Two small clinical trials of oral delta-9-THC showed that it relieved cancer pain. In the first study, patients had good pain relief as well as relief of nausea and vomiting and better appetite. A second study showed that delta-9-THC could be given in doses that gave pain relief comparable to codeine. Higher doses of delta-9-THC were found to be more sedating than codeine. An observational study of nabilone also showed that it relieved cancer pain along with nausea, anxiety, and distress when compared with no treatment. Neither dronabinol nor nabilone is approved by the FDA for pain management.
  • Whole Cannabis plant extract medicine: A study of a whole-plant extract of Cannabis that contained specific amounts of cannabinoids, which was sprayed under the tongue, found it was effective in patients with advanced cancer whose pain was not relieved by strong opioids alone. This treatment was studied using different doses in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of cancer patients with chronic pain not controlled by opioids. Patients who received the lower doses of cannabinoid spray showed markedly better pain control and less sleep loss compared with patients who received a placebo. Adverse side effects depended on the dose received. Only patients in the high-dose group had adverse side effects that made the treatment less beneficial than the placebo. Some patients using the cannabinoid spray were followed in a long-term study. Results showed that, for some patients, control of their cancer-related pain continued without needing higher doses of spray or higher doses of their other pain medicines.
  • Inhaled Cannabis: Various clinical trials have shown benefits of inhaled Cannabis compared with placebo in relieving neuropathic pain. These include a study of inhaled Cannabis in patients with HIV -related peripheral neuropathy. Results found better pain control in the Cannabis group than in the placebo group. Another study involved patients with various kinds of chronic pain that was not relieved by other pain medicines. Results showed that those treated with either low-dose or medium-dose inhaled Cannabis had improved pain relief at both doses compared to patients treated with a placebo. Side effects of the inhaled Cannabis were minor. To date, no clinical trials have studied cannabinoids in the treatment of chemotherapy-related neuropathy in patients with cancer.
Anxiety and sleep
  • Inhaled Cannabis: A small case series found that patients who inhaled marijuana had improved mood, improved sense of well-being, and less anxiety.
  • Whole Cannabis plant extract spray: A trial of a whole-plant extract of Cannabis that contained specific amounts of cannabinoids, which was sprayed under the tongue, found that patients had improved sleep quality.



Can we please pull our heads out of our butts and legalize Medical Cannabis now?

Thanks.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Qapla', Kang! Michael Ansara 1922-2013




Syrian-born American actor Michael Ansara, who portrayed Commander Kang in the classic Star Trek episode "Day of the Dove" (as well as the Star Trek:  Deep Space 9 episode "Blood Oath" and the Star Trek:  Voyager episode "Flashback"), has passed away at age 91.

From The New York Times:
Michael Ansara, Actor Who Played Cochise and Kang, Dies at 91

Star Trek Online is a registered trademark of CBS Studios Inc.. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All Star Trek Online or Star Trek art, images, and lore are the property of CBS Studios Inc.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

DSM-5: Delusion Now More About How and Less About What

"... the new definition of delusions describes them as fixed beliefs that are unswayed by clear or reasonable contradictory evidence, which are held with great conviction and are likely to share the common themes of psychosis: paranoia, grandiosity, bodily changes and so on. The belief being false is no longer central and this step forward makes it less likely that uncomfortable claims can be dismissed as signs of madness."
-- You needn't be wrong to be called delusional | Science | The Observer
(emphasis added)

This sounds a lot like fundamentalism (of any variety) is a form of delusion.  I can buy that.

The Nocebo Effect: Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health

From Dr. Lissa Rankin's "Owning Pink" blog at the Psychology Today website, something I've told many people who JUST WOULD NOT BELIEVE ME for whatever reason(s) (personally, I think stubbornness is the primary culprit in two or three of these cases):
The Nocebo Effect:  Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health

I do hope this will wake some people up to the undesirable effects of constantly dwelling on their miseries, and the benefits of optimism.


~ G.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Slave Morality and Noble Morality Contrasted -- Anxiety Culture

Several years ago, someone showed me a webpage, and directed my attention to the table at the bottom of the page.  I have since done likewise many times in conversations with others.  The table displays contrasts between a Noble Morality and a Slave Morality.  The webpage is also more than a little bit interesting;  take note in particular of the ending portion, concerned with réssentiment "morality" and passive-aggressive perspectives, which leads into the Nietzschean quiz and table as addenda of sorts.  I've taken the liberty of making an image file out of the table for purposes of education, with an attribution to the original page URL address.  The link to the original page is below.





After reading this article, a stroll around the site might prove interesting as well.  See the FAQ here.

Ciao for now.