Addiction and identity

“A leading expert on addictions says there still remains a ‘tremendous misunderstanding’ about the problem in our society,” reports the Chatham Daily News in a story about psychiatrist Gabor Mate.

“People see addictions as some lifestyle choice that somebody makes,” but  “Nobody wakes up and says, ‘My ambition is to become an addict,'” say Mate. A keynote speaker this week at the Chatham-Kent Addictions Awareness Conference, Mate said “addiction is a response to suffering and most people who are severely addicted were traumatized as children. As a result, he said, people in this situation have pain they try to soothe with drugs.”

Continue reading “Addiction and identity”

Medications help prevent those with ADHD from law breaking

A large study suggests that people with serious attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are less likely to commit crimes when taking medication. It is widely known within psychiatry that ADHD symptoms can include difficulties with impulse control, which in some cases can lead to law breaking

As reported in today’s New York Times, “The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined records of 25,000 people in Sweden to see if those with A.D.H.D. had fewer criminal convictions when taking medication than when they were not. Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent Continue reading “Medications help prevent those with ADHD from law breaking”

Educators nationwide respond to Emory arts closure

Arts educators were stunned by the news in September that Emory University would eliminate its Visual Arts Department as part of a cost-cutting effort favoring science and engineering programs. Many observers cited the move as further evidence of a creeping corporatization of the American university. As reported by the College Art Association (CAA),  “Since the economic downturn in 2008, liberal arts colleges and universities across the country have reshaped their curriculums. They have narrowed the fields of study to prepare students for vocational work quantified by employment and statistical analysis, shearing the visual arts––in part or whole––from the intellectual mold that has underpinned students’ critical thinking in the United States over the past century.”

In response to the Emory decision, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) noted the authoritarian and anti-democratic character of Emory’s actions in suspending a range of programs in art, education, journalism, and Spanish––all with out faculty consultation. An excerpt of “An Open Letter from AAUP” appears below.

“On Sept. 14, 2012, Dean Robin Forman announced a number of changes to the curriculum, including the closing of the Department of Visual Arts, the Division of Educational Studies, the Program in Journalism and the Department of Physical Education (the last already in progress at the time of his letter). He also announced the suspension of admissions to the graduate programs in economics, Spanish, and the Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA). The ILA, he wrote, will be restructured as an “institute without permanent faculty.”

“Owing to these cuts, a number of lecture track faculty will not have their contracts renewed, two tenure-track assistant professors hired in educational studies last spring will be let go in advance of any formal review of their work and a number of tenured faculty will be relocated to other departments. Dean Forman has made it clear, in his letter and elsewhere, that he made the decisions in consultation with what he called the “Faculty Financial Advisory Committee,” a small (seven-to-eight person) group of appointed faculty; Lisa Tedesco, the dean of the Laney Graduate School; and Earl Lewis, the provost.

“On behalf of the Emory Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), we want to remind the deans, the provost, the president, the Board of Trustees and, most importantly, Emory’s faculty and students of AAUP guidelines. These state that primary responsibility for decision-making concerning curriculum resides in the hands of the faculty. AAUP guidelines make it clear that this responsibility covers not only the determination of those areas of study to be offered by a college or university, but extends to “appointments, reappointments, decisions not to reappoint, promotions, the granting of tenure, and dismissal” (from Section five of AAUP’s “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities”).

“We understand that restructurings and reallocation of funds are sometimes necessary to ensure that an institution remains strong. In this instance, however, the University failed to undertake that process of reallocation through properly constituted faculty deliberative bodies and to understand that important decisions having to do with these matters must come from those bodies to the deans, provost, president and Board of Trustees.

“Moreover, we are dismayed that a small committee, initially appointed to advise Dean Robert Paul informally on financial matters in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, became a subcommittee of the College Governance Committee that advised the dean on curricular matters. Given the impact of the dean’s decisions on graduate education, we are also concerned that the Executive Council of the Laney Graduate School (LGS) — an elected body of faculty representatives — was not consulted in advance about these changes in accordance with stated practices. The LGS website states that “[t]he Executive Council reviews proposals … for changes in existing courses and programs on a rolling basis.” No proposals in this matter were brought before this council for deliberation. The fact that a College subcommittee seems to have issued recommendations to close programs in another unit, the Graduate School, also raises questions of purview.”

For the complete text of the letter, see “An Open Letter from AAUP”

Biden pardons single yam in Thanksgiving ritual

WASHINGTON—“In keeping with a longstanding Thanksgiving tradition, Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially pardoned a 4-pound yam today at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.”

As The Onion continues it’s holiday parody: ‘Under my authority as vice president of the United States of America, I hereby grant this yam full and unconditional clemency,’ a smiling Biden declared as he gently patted ‘Spud,’ a Beauregard sweet potato grown in Louisiana and selected from millions of candidates yielded by this year’s harvest. ‘May he never find himself in a casserole. Right, little guy?’ Like yams reprieved before him, Spud will ride as an honored guest aboard the second float of the Disneyland Thanksgiving Day Parade before spending the rest of his life in the comfort and safety of a tuber petting zoo.”


Covering up in San Francisco

It looks like public nudity is a thing of the past in San Francisco. SF Gate today reported that “Nudists will need to cover up or limit where they show their bare buns after the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 to pass a ban on public nudity.

“Supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos, Eric Mar, Christina Olague and David Campos voted to oppose the ban. Campos argued that police resources could better be spent fighting violent crime, instead  of tracking down naked men roaming the streets. Other supervisors argued the ban seemed to infringe on people’s right to express themselves and was merely a problem in a Castro that didn’t need a citywide ban.

“The ban still requires a second vote by the board and approval by the mayor, but if all happens as expected, the ban could go into effect Feb. 1.”

Israeli pets are worried about rocket attacks

When sporadic rocket-attack alarms blared in his Isreali neighborhood in recent months, Lucky would often freeze in confusion as the human residents of his Moshav Gea home ran to their safe room. But during the past week, in which rocket fire and alarms have become routine for the southern community, the large golden dog jets to the shelter automatically. “He follows us to the shelter, he knows,” Kineret Rozen-Edelman, a teacher at Sha’ar Hanegev Regional High School and Gea resident, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “He gets up with us and runs to the shelter.”

Rozen-Edelman was speaking with the Post on Monday morning at around 11 a.m., and she was happy to have had a night of relative quiet from 1:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Since rescuing the one-and-a-half-year-old Lucky from an Ashkelon shelter about a year ago, Rozen-Edelman and her husband have been training the dog to grow accustomed to using the shelter when necessary. Continue reading “Israeli pets are worried about rocket attacks”

Why women are driven from academic research

“The number of women studying science and engineering at undergraduate and postgraduate levels has increased markedly in recent decades.” says the webiste Oikos. ” However females have lower retention rates than males in these fields, and perform worse on average than men in terms of promotion and common research metrics. Two key differences between men and women are the larger role that women play in childcare and house work in most families, and the narrower window for female fertility. Here we explore how these two factors affect research output by applying a common ecological model to research performance, incorporating part-time work and the duration of career prior to the onset of part-time work. The model parameterizes the positive feedback between historical research Continue reading “Why women are driven from academic research”

Don’t look back in space-time

New research was unveiled in the study of time. As reported in ArsTechnica, “Unlike our daily experience, the world of elementary particle physics is mostly symmetrical in time. Run the clock backward on your day and it won’t work; run the clock backward on a process in particle physics and things are just fine. However, to preserve certain fundamental aspects of space-time the Standard Model predicts that certain reversible events nevertheless have different probabilities, depending on which way they go. This time-reversal asymmetry is remarkably hard to observe in practice since it involves measurements of highly unstable particles. Continue reading “Don’t look back in space-time”

Swan song of English accents

In the days of the British Empire, both the English language and English accents of that language were spread around the globe. But ever since World War II and the rise of U.S. media, things changed.

Fast forward to 2102 and the release of the new James Bond thriller Skyfall, and it’s title song recorded English singer Adele. As discussed this week in Slate, “Though Adele speaks with a strong London accent, her singing voice sounds more American than British. Why do British vocalists often sound American when they sing?”

“Because that’s the way everyone expects pop and rock musicians to sound. British pop singers have been imitating American pronunciations since Cliff Richards, the Beatles, and Continue reading “Swan song of English accents”

Transgender day of remembrance

November 20 is the international Transgender Day of Remembrance, an opportunity for communities to come together and mark the passing of transgender and gender-variant individuals, or those perceived to be transgender.

For complete listings of events and specific memorials, see “International Transgender Day of Remembrance.”

Facebook habits could keep you out of college

Celebrity internet affairs and embarassed government officials may be all the news is talking about, but what if your Facebook habits could keep you out of college? In a story today from CNN called “Does Facebook hurt your college chances?”

“This fall, a Kaplan Test Prep survey showed that an increasing number of college admissions officers were discovering information on Facebook and Google that hurt a student’s acceptance chances.

“According to the Kaplan survey, 27% of admissions officers checked Google and 26% looked on Facebook as part of their applicant-review process. Thirty-five percent of those doing so — compared with 12% in 2011 — found material that negatively impacted their view of a student.

“The results of the survey would, I thought, cause college-bound students and their parents to lash out in anger. Students are under so much stress. College costs are up, and winning the admissions race seems harder than ever.”

Cyberwar against Israel

“The Israeli government said that its websites logged about 44 million hacking attempts following the bombardment of Gaza Strip since Wednesday,” says the technology site, The Droid Guy in an article today entitled “Israeli Websites Under Attack.” The essay continues:

“Yuval Steinitz, the country’s Finance Minister, said that an unnamed government website was successfully hacked only once, but it  was back online after 10 minutes.

“Government websites in Israel are typically hit hundreds of times in a typical day, the Finance Ministry said. Websites related to national defense of Israel were hit the hardest although the site of the country’s president also logged 10 million hacking attempts. The Foreign Ministry site was hacked 7 million times while the prime minister’s site experienced about 3 million attempts.

“Although sources of the attacks came from around the world, most of them originated from Israel and Palestinian territories. Minister Steinitz said: ‘The ministry’s computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks. We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerized defense systems.’”

“He has reportedly instructed the ministry to use back up systems to counter the hacking attempts on government websites. Both combatants have utilized social media recently to gain support around the world.  The Israeli Defense Force is using almost all social media sites while Palestinian terrorists are embracing Twitter. For complete story, see, “Israeli Websites Under Attack.”

Rising protests over french marriage equality

Shortly after taking office, French President Francois Hollande vowed to implement marriage equality with one year. In the wake of this week’s reaction by to Vatican to pro-LGBT outcomes in several American states––French Catholics have taken to the streets. As Al Jazeera reports, “

“More than 100,000 people have taken to the streets across France to protest the government plans to approve same-sex marriage and adoption.Saturday’s protest, called the “March for Everyone,” included pro-family and Catholic groups. Several thousand people marched in Paris, carrying signs with slogans such as “One child (equals) one father + one mother.”Some 70,000 people joined the Paris rally on Saturday, police said, though organisers put the figure at 200,000, with more than 30,000 others holding similar protests in towns around the country.

“In the southeastern city of Lyon, 22,000 people protested, police said. Officers there detained around 40 youths who had come to oppose the main rally.There were other protests in the northwestern towns of Rennes and Nantes, and in the northern town of Laon. Up to 8,000 also marched in the southern city of Marseille, where they too were confronted by supporters of gay marriage.

“In the southwestern city of Toulouse, police used tear gas against a group of several hundred activists who tried to confront the main rally of several thousand in a counter-protest.”

Games and gender discussed in new journal

The regressive norms of gamer culture are no secret. Despite recent efforts to create socially responsible games, troubling levels of sexism, racism, and homophobia persist – both among player groups and in many games themselves. A welcome new online place to find intelligent discussion of these issues is ADA: Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. Below is a short excerpt from a recent piece by Mia Consalvo entitled “Confronting Toxic Gamer Culture: A Challenge for Feminist Game Studies Scholars.”

“With increasing frequency the ugliness of gamer culture is being put on display for the wider world to see. While I was writing this piece, for example, a Canadian blogger created a game where one can punch and bruise the face of Anita Sarkeesian, creator of the popular website Feminist Frequency: Conversations with Pop Culture (Spurr, 2012). The game was in response to news of her Kickstarter campaign, where she proposed investigating portrayals of women in videogames over the past few decades. The game was only the latest in a string of attacks on Sarkeesian for her proposed project: she also received death threats, had her Wikipedia page defaced with pornographic imagery, and was repeatedly harassed on the Kickstarter page and elsewhere. About a month prior to that, in June 2012 a controversy erupted about Lara Croft’s alleged past in the latest Tomb Raider game, where sexual assault had helped form her character according to one of the game’s developers (Schreier, 2012). In May, the annual videogame expo E3 became the topic of controversy when multiple sources declared it a space hostile to women and juvenile in its approach to games (Alexander, 2012; Williams, 2012). Brenda Brathwaite tweeted while at the event about feeling harassed simply by walking the show floor, and games journalist Katie Williams related stories of industry PR reps that immediately discounted her ability to play their games, saying to her “I think I better play it for you,” and then “prying my hands away and turning the keyboard towards himself” (Williams, 2012).


“And we can keep going back. Earlier this year, Jennifer Hepler, a writer for BioWare titles like Dragon Age and Star Wars: The Old Republic, had sexist assaults launched at her for daring to suggest games might allow players to press a button to skip combat, much like some games allow players to press a button to skip cut-scenes. Around the same time the fighting game community became embroiled in a controversy about its history of sexist language and practices. During a reality television show about competitions, one team’s coach proclaimed that sexual harassment is an “important part” of the fighting game community and it needs to continue (Hamilton, 2012). And over the span of many months beginning in August 2010 Penny Arcade became embroiled in a wide-ranging debate centering on a comic featuring a joke about dickwolves and rape. The initial strip led to protests by upset readers, followed by indifferent responses by the creators, real life threats of rape against some women who dared to speak out, and the creation by Penny Arcade authors of “team dickwolves” t-shirts that were going to be on sale at PAX East, but were later removed from circulation.”

Oops, we lost another $647-million Stealth jet

The pilot safely ejected, but the Air Force admitted yesterday to losing another top-of-the line F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. Apparently it’s been a rough year for the $647-million radar-evading plane from Lockheed Martin.  As reported in today’s Wired, “At 3:30 local time on Thursday an F-22, apparently belonging to the 325th Wing, a training unit based at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle, plunged into the ground in a wooded area inside the base perimeter near Highway 98, sparking a small fire.The pilot ejected safely. ‘The cause of the crash is still under investigation and additional details will be provided as soon as they become available,’ the flying branch said in a statement.

‘The same day, the Air Force copped to an earlier accident involving the stealth fighter, which costs as much as $678 million per copy (depending on how you crunch the numbers). On May 31, a student pilot on his second solo Raptor flight at Tyndall neglected to power up his jet’s engines fast enough after retracting the landing gear.Without sufficient thrust, the aircraft settled back to the runway, landing on its underside,” the Air Force explained in its official report, released on Thursday.In June, 325th Wing spokesman Herman Bell said the incident would likely be categorized as a “class A” accident costing more than $2 million to fix.

‘In fact, the repair cost totals $35 million, the Air Force said yesterday. That could put the damaged stealth fighter out of action for years, assuming it gets patched up at all. The F-22 is made largely of advanced composite materials that are expensive and time-consuming to replace. The flying branch preserved the tooling from the shuttered Lockheed Raptor factory specifically for extensive repair jobs.

‘The recent crashes are only the latest bad news for the cutting-edge F-22, which currently ranks as the Air Force’s most accident-prone fighter. The last of the Raptors rolled out of the Marietta, Georgia, factor in December and flew into a veritable firestorm of controversy.

‘The Air Force twice grounded all or some of the fleet over concerns about the Raptor’s apparently faulty oxygen system, which might have contributed to a fatal crash in 2010. Two F-22 pilots even mutinied, refusing to fly the speedy, high-flying jet until the Air Force worked out its problems. Months of investigation costing millions of dollars failed to definitively solve the jet’s oxygen woes, although the Air Force is installing a backup oxygen generator just in case.’


Read the full story, Another Day, Another $678 Million Stealth Jet Wrecked,” by David Axe in Wired.

Nineteen eighty-four on crack

Here is the scenario: An invisible menacing force is trying to get you, everywhere you go. A malevolent secret organization wants to take over the world by sneaking into your mind. Walk too near the wrong trash can or tree, and it could zap your brain.  And by the way, it already has possessed loads of the people around you, even your most trusted friends.

“The world around you is not what it seems,” the promotion for Google’s new Ingress phone game says, “It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They are already here.”

Game news website CNET describes Ingress like this: “Ingress begins with a series of training missions designed to orient new players. Quickly it introduces you to its quirky lexicon. Around town you will find various “portals”; the point of Ingress (at least so far) is to control them. To control portals you have to “hack” them, which is akin to a check-in on Facebook or Foursquare. Hacking portals rewards you with various items, the most important of which are portal keys and resonators. Portal keys allow you to link portals together; resonators power them up and can protect them from being stolen from your rivals. Linking three portals together creates a “field,” which is more powerful than a portal, and is apparently essential for world domination.

“The game takes the form of a free mobile app, now available on the Google Play store for Androiddevices. It is the second product from Niantic Labs, a startup accelerator within Google. Niantic is run by John Hanke, the former head of product management for Google’s “Geo” division, which includes Maps, Earth and Local, among other divisions. Niantic’s first project was Field Trip, an Android app for discovering the world around you. Released in September, Field Trip sends notifications to a smartphone whenever a person passes an area of possible interest — a landmark, a park, a highly rated restaurant. In my use, it’s been a fun way of exploring new cities and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

War and Infidelity

“Spectators will try to make this scandal about many things: the arrogance of powerful men; conniving mistresses; the silent epidemic of sexual assault in the armed services. But these explanations obscure an underlying problem: the devastating influence of an open-ended war — now in its 11th year — on the families of U.S. service members.” This, from military spouse Rebecca Sinclair in today’s Washington Post. The story entitled “When the Strains of War Lead to Infidelity” continues:

“Rebecca Sinclair is married to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, who is being tried at Fort Bragg, N.C., on charges including adultery and sexual misconduct.

“Like most Americans, I’ve been unable to escape the current news cycle regarding several high-ranking military generals entangled in sex scandals. Unlike most Americans, however, for me the topic is personal. My husband, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, is one of the officers.

“Let me first address the elephant in the room. My husband had an affair. He violated our marriage vows and hurt me tremendously. Jeff and I are working on our marriage, but that’s our business.

“Jeff also needs to answer to the Army. That is his business, not mine, and he accepts that. I believe in and support him as much as ever.

“I wish I could say that my husband was the only officer or soldier who has been unfaithful. Since 2001, the stress of war has led many service members to engage in tremendously self-destructive behavior. The officer corps is plagued by leaders abandoning their families and forging new beginnings with other men and women. And many wives know about their husbands’ infidelity but stay silent.”

Drinking patterns seem to be changing

Ace Metrix® today announced the Brand of the Year Watch List, a compilation of the leading TV brand advertisers in 2012 covering the automotive (luxury and non-luxury), beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), candies & snacks, financial services, general business, household, insurance, packaged foods, personal care, restaurants, retail, technology (including computer hardware & software, mobile devices, and video games), and telecommunications industries.  The top five brands in each industry can be seen below and at

“This year’s race for Brand of the Year has been impacted by several factors, including the state of the economy, events like the Olympics, as well as just plain old clever marketing strategies that have boosted some brands significantly, particularly in the beverage, restaurant, technology, and general business sectors,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “One key example of an economic influence on brand choice is in the restaurant sector, which has seen stellar performance this year with every advertiser in the Top 5 achieving an average Ace Score in the 600s.  Casual dining restaurants, which have seen the highest scores, represent a small luxury that Americans can indulge in, with many of the ads touting value as a key selling point.”

Other leading themes seen this year in the race for Brand of the Year include:


  • Big U.S. beer brands like Budweiser, Miller and Coors are noticeably absent from the list of front-runners for alcoholic beverage Brand of the Year.  On the other hand, craft brewers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams have performed exceptionally well this year and are featured prominently on the Watch List.  This is a stark comparison to the beer brands that led the Most Effective list in 2011, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light.
  • Soda brands have faltered in 2012, with brands like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper falling out of Watch List contention.  Aside from the iconic Coca-Cola brand (also a Summer Olympic sponsor), three of the top five non-alcoholic brands thus far are non-soda drinks,­ including Ocean Spray, Tropicana and Gatorade.


For complete story, see:

Hate group leader appeals legal loss to Rachel Maddow

Homophobic Christian rocker Bradlee Dean is appealing a judge’s dismissal of his defamation lawsuit against MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, a ruling that also required Dean to pay Maddow’s legal fees.

Dean leads the group You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As reported in World Net Daily, “An appeal is being prepared in a case that alleges MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow defamed a Christian minister by maliciously asserting he advocated the execution of homosexuals, after a judge who was accused of being biased against the plaintiffs went ahead and dismissed it. Attorney Larry Klayman told WND today that the judicial behavior could be characterized as ‘unethical’ after the judge, Joan Zeldon, praised Maddow’s attorneys as ‘distinguished’ but denigrated Klayman. Then she went ahead and dismissed the claim brought on behalf of Bradlee Dean and his You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International ministry. Klayman said there are several grounds for the appeal, including the fact that Zeldon ordered the plaintiffs to pay $24,000 in legal fees for the defendants without any discovery or hearing on exactly what those fees were for. ‘Rachel Maddow should not take any satisfaction,’ Klayman told WND. ‘This is just round one. The case has not been adjudicated on its merits.’ He explained that ‘clearly, what they did was defamatory, and it put the life of Bradlee Dean and the lives of his family and colleagues in danger.’”

For background on the decision, see “Rachel Maddow, Bradlee Dean Lawsuit: Christian Rocker Ordered To Pay MSNBC Host’s Legal Bills” in the Huffington Post.

Israel is the world’s most militarized nation

Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarized nations, according to the latest Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC). This information is detailed a story in today’s Asia Times entitled “Israel ranked as most militarized,” with brief excerpts below:

“Singapore ranks second, followed by Syria, Russia, Jordan, and Cyprus, according to the Index, which is based on a number of weighted variables, such as the comparison of a country’s military

“Israel’s main regional rival, Iran is far behind at number 34.

Six of the top 10 states, including Israel (1), Syria (4), Jordan (5), Kuwait (7), Bahrain (9), and Saudi Arabia (10) are located in the Middle East, while yet another of Iran’s neighbors, Azerbaijan, made its first entry into the militarized elite at number 8.”