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[personal profile] yhlee
- recent reading
Peter Watson. War on the Mind: The Military Uses and Abuses of Psychology. I think I learned of this book through Fountain Pen Network (there is an "off-topic chatter" forum with an ongoing "What are you reading?" thread), although it might have been elsewhere. This is a fascinating survey of the then-availaable information on various military uses of psychology, from human factors in weapons design to the optimal distribution of ammunition in a firing line to darker topics like interrogation and a look at the realities of "brainwashing." I will note that it's dated; it's ©1978, so there is precious little on (say) women in the military, it is generally Western-centric in focus (the author is British and the majority of the research cited is from the UK or the USA), and is sometimes offhandedly and painfully dated in its attitude toward race. Nevertheless, this was a fascinating read (my particular interest is hexarchate writing-research, because they are a police state mucking around with this sort of thing), and the author, whose primary purpose is documentation, does not ignore the implications of classified research for the prevalence of bad science and ethically questionable uses. Mostly I find this useful in pointing out things I'd like to investigate further, with more up-to-date sources.

Meanwhile, I am sardonically amused at military psychology operations that proposed faking supernatural events to scare the locals with their "primitive" superstitious religious beliefs, as though Westerners don't have religious beliefs of their own.

Table of contents long )

As an interesting complement, I also read Roberto J. González's Militarizing Culture: Essays on the Warfare State. War on the Mind was written by a journalist investigating military psychology; González, by way of contrast, is an anthropology professor writing with concern about the militarization of (American) culture and military and colonialist uses of anthropology. (I would love to know what you think of this book if you ever come across it, [personal profile] swan_tower; I picked up my copy at Gencon, of all places.) These are topics immediately relevant to my interests not because I am an activist (I'm not) but because the hexarchate is an imperialist police state with a faction that would totally have evil anthropologists working for them.

González is sometimes farther to the left than I think I am, and at times I found it difficult to tell whether he objected to anthropology being used by the military at all--it seems to me that unless anthropologists find some way of actively hiding their research from the US military, the US military is going to take what it sees as the useful bits and employ them--or that the US military was using outdated anthropology, or using anthropology badly (as in the essay on General Petraeus et al.'s use of the term "tribe" to describe politics in the Middle East in ways that are apparently deprecated by modern anthropologists [1]). Possibly the objection is some combination of the two; in any case, González is extremely concerned with ethical uses of anthropology and prevention of imperialist/paternalistic uses, as well as what he calls the "military-industrial-entertainment complex" currently dominant in the USA. I am not remotely objective on this myself (the first two schools I went to were Department of Defense schools...) but it's definitely food for thought, and there are indeed points where I am unambiguously in agreement with the author at the wastefulness of certain wars.

[1] I have no background in anthropology or any of the social sciences, so I am probably missing nuances here. Mea culpa.

Table of contents Read more... )

Whew! I started both these books in 2015 and it's a relief to have finished them both--in the same night, even. I think I will reward myself by reading some more game design theory. :D (Trust me, I have a ridiculous queue of military history and related books as well, but sometimes I need a break...)

Richard Dawkins Suffers Stroke

Feb. 12th, 2016 01:37 am
[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Rebecca Watson

According to the Sydney Opera House, where he was scheduled to speak soon, Richard Dawkins suffered a small stroke last Saturday. The statement they attribute to Dawkins’ management reads in full:

On Saturday night Richard suffered a minor stroke, however he is expected in time to make a full or near full recovery. He is already at home recuperating. This unfortunately means Richard will be unable to make his planned Australian and New Zealand tour. He is very disappointed that he is unable to do so but looks forward to renewing his plans in the not too distant future.

While we here at Skepchick have been very critical of Dawkins’ recent spate of bigoted comments, we hope that he recovers quickly.

Wee!

Feb. 11th, 2016 08:42 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll



My grade school north of St Agatha had a nice tall toboggan hill at the foot of which was what is now call Notre Dame Dr. Even then, it could be a busy road. No worries, though, because between the road and the hill was a nice sturdy barbed wire fence.

Pros and Cons of Antidepressants

Feb. 11th, 2016 07:48 pm
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[personal profile] jimhines

Last month, Rachel Griffin started the #imnotashamed hashtag on Twitter for people to talk about and try to destigmatize mental illness. Naturally, there were a handful of people who took this as an invitation to try to undermine that message.

This is the example I ended up arguing with, which led to me designating a brand new subspecies of internet troll: a genital sensitivity concern troll. She asked if I was still in that relationship, what meds I was on, talked to me about how my medication usually causes emotional numbness and sexual dysfunction, and so on. Gosh, it’s nice to know that whatever else happens, some random stranger is Very Worried about whether or not my genitals are fully functional.

Well, I’ve been on Zoloft for more than three years now, and I’m happy to say that not only has it helped my life immensely, everything (with the exception of my pancreas — and that’s a totally separate issue) remains fully functional.

Data - Fully Functional

Too much information? Maybe. But @jailina was just so worried about all of us people on antidepressants, and whether or not our various bits still worked. She also seemed convinced that antidepressants were just a conspiracy by Big Pharma to sell drugs, and we all get depressed sometimes, and so on.

Now, she wasn’t entirely off-base. Mostly, but not entirely.

Most medications have potential side effects. For Zoloft, those side effects can include sexual problems, as well as sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, stomach pain, changes in appetite, dry mouth, and weight loss.

Sounds intimidating, eh? But so far, the only side effect I’ve run into was some dry mouth in the beginning.

Shall we compare that to the “side effects” of my untreated depression? Because those effects included oversleeping, impaired relationships with my children, impaired relationships with my wife, reduced productivity as a writer, and oh yes, a major reduction in my sex life. When I was younger, there were also effects like suicidal tendencies.

Side note: suicide also has a negative effect on your sex life.

The More You Know

I get the fears. What if medication turns me into an emotionally numb zombie? What if it takes away my creativity and spirit as a writer/artist?

Let’s start by busting that last myth: Depression does not make you a better writer!

The myth of the tortured artist is bullshit. Not only do you not have to be tormented and miserable to be creative, you’ll almost always be far more productive if you’re mentally and emotionally stable. I almost doubled my writing output the year after I started getting my depression under control. Every writer I’ve talked to who has a mental illness has told me they do better when that illness is managed.

As for the side effects? Tell your doctor what you’re worried about. Talk about the potential side effects and what to watch for. The first medication you try might not be the right one for you, or the dosage might need to be adjusted. It can take time to find the right treatment. If you encounter side effects, you and your doctor can adjust your medication. You’re not damned to an eternity of dizziness, dry mouth, and numb genitals.

Depression is not just a bad mood. Mental illness is not something you can overcome through stubbornness. I liken it to my diabetes. I can’t tough my way through having a nonfunctional pancreas. Trying to do so would quickly put me into a coma, and then into a grave. Likewise, stubbornness isn’t going to straighten out neurochemical imbalances in your brain.

Don’t let the genital sensitivity concern trolls scare you out of asking for help if you need it. Educate yourself, yes. Ask about side effects and treatment options. In my case, the combination of medication and talking to a therapist is what worked best.

“Antidepressants destroy love?” That’s some Jenny McCarthy-level ignorance there. 100% pure, uneducated ass-talking.

Without exception, my relationships are stronger, healthier, and more loving today than they were before I started antidepressants. (They’re not perfect, mind you. No pill can do that. But they’re so much better than before.)

Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. And getting help isn’t something to be afraid of.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Thought for the Day

Feb. 11th, 2016 11:11 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_rilstone_feed

Posted by Andrew Rilstone

"Each new discovery, even every new theory, is held at first to have the most wide-reaching theological and philosophical consequences. It is seized by unbelievers as the basis for a new attack on Christianity; it is often, and more embarrassingly, seized by injudicious believers as the basis for a new defense. But usually, when the popular hubbub has subsided and the novelty has been chewed over by real theologians, real scientists and real philosophers, both sides find themselves pretty much where they were before."

C.S Lewis
yhlee: counterpoise trebuchet (trebuchet 1 (credit: <user name="vom_mar)
[personal profile] yhlee
Contes et récits de l'histoire de Carthage by Jean Defrasne read-along
Ch. 2, cont'd (bottom of p. 12 to p. 18)

Words I had to look up:
Read more... )

J'aime beaucoup Élissa!

I really need some kind of Carthage icon, but I have no idea where to find such a thing. :p

Full Spring Conference Agenda out now

Feb. 11th, 2016 09:57 pm
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Spring Conference Agenda 2016The full agenda and directory for the Spring Conference in York is out now.

All the details of motions, training and fringe meetings are inside.

A few points to note:

  • The Exhibition, which had originally been cut, has been reinstated. Leave.EU and the Lib Dem InTogether campaign will be no doubt glowering atmospherically at each other across the room.
  • The photos of the Federal Executive were supposed to be in the agenda, but seem to have been left out for some reason. People should know who their federal representatives are. However, there will be an FE help desk so please come and talk to us if you have any questions about the overall strategy of the party.
  • The number of what appear to be all-male panels at fringe meetings is more than a little annoying. And much as I love Tim, Vince and Jim Wallace, surely to goodness they could have found women for the main business reception too. After all, Jo Swinson as Business Minister did loads for women entrepreneurs and Lorely Burt is our go-to person for women in business.
  • The Saturday afternoon session goes on till 7pm with a consultation session on the Governance Review after the close of official business. This is really important as the outcome will determine the way the party is run and where power lies within it. An hour is barely time to scratch the surface of the issues. However, do take time to read the document now and submit your ideas to the team even if you are not going to Conference. The consultation is open until the end of March.
  • York is a city where we Lib Dems are in the Council administration. We should hear from Council Deputy Leader Cllr Keith Aspden at some point during the weekend.

It promises to be a wonderful weekend. It all starts at 3pm on the afternoon of 11th March with consultation sessions on Liberty and Security and Social Security.

There are a fair few controversial motions for debate, not least THAT one on diversity. We’ll be looking at all the motions in the run-up to Conference. The deadline for amendments is 8th March, so have a look at them and see what you might like to change.  Submitting an amendment is a good way of making your first Conference speech. If it’s selected for debate, you will be called early in the debate rather than have to sit on tenterhooks wondering if you are going to get called or not.

Also, there is a massive amount of training available, with everything from unconscious bias (which everyone on any committee in the party should do) to all aspects of campaigning, including looking ahead to the 2017 Council elections. It’s never too early to start planning.

If you haven’t registered for Conference yet, you can do so here.

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

I’m here in the Lone Star State for ConDFW, where I am the guest of honor along with Seanan McGuire, so if you you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and have a hankerin’ to meet me (or Seanan), this is the time. The convention starts tomorrow. Right now, I’m likely to take a little nap.


[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Harry Hayfield

Crompton (Lab defence) on Bolton
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 39, Conservatives 15, Liberal Democrats 3, UKIP 3 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 2,363 (60%), UKIP 826 (21%), Conservative 456 (12%), Liberal Democrat 148 (4%), Independent 121 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Bilkis Bashir-Ismali (Lab), Laura Diggle (Green), Paul Eccles (UKIP), Ryan Haslam (Con), Garry Veevers (Lib Dem)

In the 2004 local elections something quite remarkable happened in Bolton, the Liberal Democrats became the largest party on the council (Lib Dem 21, Lab 20, Con 19) of course it didn’t last long and in 2006 they started a long slide to their three councillors at the moment and Bolton returned to it’s long term tradition of being a solid Labour council which poses the question therefore of whether Bolton wants an inbuilt majority for Labour or are they seeking an alternative but each option disappoints? If that is indeed the case then UKIP could be in for a very bad night indeed, after all polling 19% at last year’s elections (from a standing start in 2011) means that they have a long way to fall back.

Lower Stoke (Lab defence) on Coventry
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 41, Conservatives 13 (Labour majority of 28)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 1,854 (47%), UKIP 938 (24%), Conservative 600 (15%), Green Party 259 (7%), Trade Unionist and Socialist 248 (6%), British National Party 70 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated:Aimee Challenor (Green Party), Christopher Glenn (Lib Dem), Harjinder Sehmi (UKIP), Rupinder Singh (Lab), Eliane Yebkal (Con)

When the Conservatives gained control of Coventry in 2004 Labour were sure “This is just a temporary blip” and it is true that just six years later Labour regained control and now have a majority of 28, but at the same time at the general election the three seats that make up Coventry there was a 0.45% swing to the Conservatives making Coventry North West as well as Coventry South into Labour marginal seats and whilst there is no chance of the Conservatives gaining Coventry in 2016, the fact that Coventry has seen a Labour lead of 33% in 1997 slump to just 15% in 18 years is something that will no doubt give Labour several sleepless nights for years to come.

West End North (Lib Dem defence) on Eastleigh
Result of council at last election (2015): Liberal Democrats 38, Conservatives 6 (Liberal Democrat majority of 32)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Liberal Democrat 1,156 (40%), Conservative 1,020 (35%), UKIP 446 (15%), Labour 280 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Andy Andrews (Lab), Janice Asman (Lib Dem), Steven Broomfield (Con), Glynn Fleming (Green), Hugh McGuinness (UKIP)

When the Conservatives brought Eastleigh back into the fold at the general election, they managed to do so on a very fractional increase in the Conservative vote (from 39% in 2010 to 42% in 2015) the real reason was the collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote from 47% to just 26% so you would expect therefore that in the Eastleigh council elections (held on the same day) the Liberal Democrat vote would collapse compared with the 2011 local elections (and while it did fall 10%) there was only a 7% swing from Lib Dem to Con compared to the 12% swing at the general election so therefore there has to be a very strong chance that the Lib Dems should be able to hold this ward.

Cranford (Lab defence) on Hounslow
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 49, Conservatives 11 (Labour majority of 38)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 2,085, 1,813, 1,643 (55%)
Conservatives 987, 851, 801 (26%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 508 (13%)
Liberal Democrat 235 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sukhbir Dhaliwal (Lab), Nico Fekete (Green), Hina Malik (Lib Dem), Sukhdev Maras (Con), George Radulski (UKIP)

The last time that Labour had 49 seats back in 1994, the opposition was made up of 6 Conservatives and 5 Liberal Democrats and from that moment on Labour dropped so that by 2006 Hounslow was a hung council but that didn’t last too long and it only took two elections for Labour to get back to 49 councillors and eliminate the Liberal Democrats as an opposition group member. However, with the London Mayoral and Assembly elections on the way a good Conservative performance in a Labour heartland will allow them to say that they are the only challengers to Labour in the capital and that as a result, Zac Goldsmith should be elected Mayor to counter a Labour controlled Assembly.

Compiled by Harry Hayfield

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by The Voice

On the Today programme, Nick Clegg compared the “dragnet” approach of Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill to the way things happen in Russia.

During the Coalition years, Nick had stopped the Conservatives from introducing a “snooper’s charter.” It’s worth remembering that he was going to let it through until a conference call with some angry bloggers who understood the technology, and the intervention of people like Julian Huppert, made him think twice. But once he’s changed his mind, he was good to his word and held May off for 3 years.

The Guardian quotes him as saying this morning:

He said: “Why there is this great congregation of concern from all wings of political opinion is because what the home office is in essence proposing is that in order to be able to surveil and analyse something they are saying they want to collect everything on everyone. That is a dragnet approach which I have always felt is disproportionate.”

He dismissed the analogy of the needle in the haystack – the argument that the security agencies need to embark on the bulk collection of data in order to be able to find crucial nuggets of details about terrorists.

He told Today: “I know the needle-haystack argument and it is a comforting analogy. But the reality is a little different. Why, for instance, is there no other European or Commonwealth country that I know that pursues this dragnet approach?

“The Americans and the Canadians, according to the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation David Anderson, told him there are constitutional constraints on them pursuing this dragnet approach. The Australians have a prohibition on it. The Danes interestingly had a very similar power for some years and then scrapped it a couple of years ago because they discovered, unsurprisingly, that the police were drowning in huge amounts of useless information.

“The Home Office in Britain, almost uniquely in the developed world, has been peddling this idea for about eight years now that you need to create a vast bucket of information about everybody’s interaction on the internet every second of the day.

“So the question is about proportionality. Is it proportionate in a small ‘l’ liberal, small ‘d’ democracy to retain information on everything – from the music you download on Spotify, to the app you opened, to the supermarket website that you visit – in order to go after the bad guys? Very few other countries other than Russia take this dragnet approach.”

[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Kieren McCarthy

Over 1k programs and games preserved by Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is taking us back to 1992 with the release of over 1,000 programs and games that run on what was arguably the first mass-market graphical interface: Windows 3.1.…

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Amy Roth

This Saturday February 13th at 2 pm the Los Angeles Women’s Atheist and Agnostic Group is hosting a Galantine’s celebration and book club meet up at Surly Amy’s art studio with special guest author, Sikivu Hutchinson!

Sikivu Hutchinson has written a fantastic historical fiction novel about the events leading up to the horrific Jonestown murder/suicide that was led by the infamous, Reverend Jim Jones called, White Nights, Black Paradise. It is an eye-opening look at how even the best of people get involved in cults. It rips like a dagger in your gut when you realize how much organized religion really does offer to people in need, and how organizations, even secular ones (I’m looking at you big tent atheism) can assume the best intent but still take extreme financial and emotion tolls on their members- and in the most extreme cases, as with cults, their lives. This book is also a critical look back at atheism, second wave feminism and the civil rights movement in America. It speaks of oppression of the black community and how easy it was and still is, for white people to take advantage of that existing power imbalance. It even speaks to the fact that atheist leaders can create a cult religion following if they desire. It is an excellent lesson in critical thinking and demonstrates how faith healing can be faked and most frighteningly, how you can fool yourself in to believing in anything and anyone. It reminds us in no uncertain terms that many good intentioned people can commit atrocities- if they are simply offered hope.

This is definitely a novel that will get you thinking about your own life choices and how people can place themselves in a position of power and take advantage of those in need.

Read this book: White Nights, Black Paradise
51jPDGlwZEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

And even if you haven’t read the book, you can still come and meet Sikivu and celebrate Galentine’s day with us this Saturday!

Why celebrate Galentine’s day?

 
galentine 1

galentine 2

That’s right we are gonna celebrate our lady friends! There will be drinks and snacks and lively conversation and love. If you are in Los Angeles and you’d like to join us, RSVP on our Meet-up page! The only catch is, you must identify primarily as a woman or be a friend of a current member to attend.

See you Saturday!

PS: If you have read this book and want to chat about it but can’t make the meetup, feel free to post in the comments section here. I’d be happy to respond!


*Featured image via Amy Poeler’s Smart Girls.

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

All the documents for the forthcoming Liberal Democrat conference in York are now published, including the detailed agenda and the consultation paper about how the party is governed and structured.

That latter includes the latest, slow but steady, progress on one of my long-standing issues – reducing the level of secrecy about the party’s committee meetings and improving the reporting back to members about what is being done in their name. It also raises again the question of whether the Liberal Democrats should have an elected Deputy Leader – something which David Howarth and I put the case for, and provide a remit for the role, in our ‘core votes’ pamphlet.

The agenda itself includes the full motion on improving diversity amongst our Parliamentarians, on which see More details of plans for Lib Dem “all-women shortlists” released and they’re not just about women.

For more information about conference, including the new scheme for non-members to attend, see Lib Dem conference: what you need to know and to keep up with the latest news and discuss events with fellow conference attenders, sign up for the Lib Dem conference Facebook event.

Lib Dem York 2016 Spring Conference Agenda and Directory

Download this document

Governance Review Consultation Paper

Download this document

Liberty and Security Policy Consultation Paper

Download this document

Social Security Policy Consultation Paper

Download this document

Agenda 2020 Consultation Paper

Download this document

Keep up with news about Lib Dem conference

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[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Lester Haines

Star Wars production company due in court

The UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced it will prosecute the company allegedly responsible for squashing Harrison Ford during filming of Star Wars: The Forces Awakens.

Solidarity, sister!

Feb. 11th, 2016 06:15 pm
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Waiting in GP's surgery.

Two women come out, one elderly and one middle-aged, probably mother and daughter. 

The younger one is carrying a wooden walking stick as she follows ‎the older towards the door. "Don't you want this?" she asks, offering it.

The older one takes it just as she happens to walk past where I'm sitting, catches my eye, grins and whispers conspiratorially "I like to be naughty and do without it if I can."‎

I grin too, partly because she's taken me into her confidence like this but also because while she probably thinks I'm too young to understand I, with my white cane folded up in my backpack next to me, am totally with her.‎

W1A: The Complete Series 1 and 2

Feb. 11th, 2016 05:25 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Ian Fletcher in W1A

A follow-up to the very successful Twenty Twelve, W1A sees Ian Fletcher move to the post of Head of Values at the BBC in another satire that deftly mocks the language of PR, the mannerisms of management and the foibles of office life. The use of the BBC’s real offices in New Broadcasting House (and a frenetic diversion into Old Broadcasting House in one episode), along with BBC personalities appearing as themselves, gives the show’s mock-documentary approach just the right look. But what really matters is the substance underneath, which is a set of scripts that many BBC staffers have described as being deliciously close to reality.

W1A - Series 1 and 2 - DVD coverBut what really matters is the substance underneath, which is a set of scripts that many BBC staffers have described as being deliciously close to reality.

For me, it’s not quite five-star material as the office politics are all a little too straight forward for full farce value, and Ian Fletcher finds it just a little too easy to come out on top when he puts his mind to it. But there’s still a lot of laughs to be had.The short documentary included in the extras in which the show’s characters interview their real life equivalents is also well worth a watch; definitely a cut above many DVD extras in terms of enlightenment and

The short documentary included in the extras in which the show’s characters interview their real life equivalents is also well worth a watch; definitely a cut above many DVD extras in terms of enlightenment and entertainment.

If you like this, you might also be interested in John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme.

Got a view on this review? Then please rate it on Amazon.

Buy now from AmazonBuy W1A: The Complete Series 1 and 2 here.

 

W1A: The Complete Series 1 and 2
Very funny, and yet…
My rating (out of 5): 4.0
Mark Pack, 11 February 2016 |

Today's question

Feb. 11th, 2016 12:07 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Is it still a Traveller campaign if it's set on a specific world, with no interstellar voyaging?

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Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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