Thursday, July 31, 2008

Substance-Induced Psychosis

What are the symptoms of substance-induced psychosis?

• Prominent hallucinations or delusions that are the direct physiological effect of a substance and are more real than those sometimes associated with substance use;
• Usually, the person does not realise that the hallucinations are related to the substance use;
• The symptoms begin during or within a month of substance intoxication or withdrawal and persist as long as the substance use and/or withdrawal continues;
• The person remains vulnerable to further episodes of psychosis;
• Substance-induced psychosis may look the same as the acute phase of psychotic disorders, but the duration of the symptoms is usually shorter;
• In order to receive a diagnosis of substance-induced psychosis, the symptoms must be linked causally to the drug use. Otherwise, a diagnosis of first-episode psychosis (called schizophreniform psychosis) will be given.

Cyrus Cylinder

Perhaps Iran's most exalted artifact—housed at the British Museum in London, with a replica residing at UN headquarters in New York City. The cylinder resembles a corncob made of clay; inscribed on it, in cuneiform, is a decree that has been described as the first charter of human rights—predating the Magna Carta by nearly two millennia. It can be read as a call for religious and ethnic freedom; it banned slavery and oppression of any kind, the taking of property by force or without compensation; and it gave member states the right to subject themselves to Cyrus's crown, or not. "I never resolve on war to reign."
"To know Iran and what Iran really is, just read that transcription from Cyrus," said Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder

NEW HAVEN, CT–In a diagnosis that helps explain the confusing and contradictory aspects of the cosmos that have baffled philosophers, theologians, and other students of the human condition for millennia, God, creator of the universe and longtime deity to billions of followers, was found Monday to suffer from bipolar disorder.
Rev. Dr. J. Henry Jurgens, a practicing psychiatrist and doctor of divinity at Yale University Divinity School, announced the historic diagnosis at a press conference.
"I always knew there had to be some explanation," Jurgens said. "And, after several years of patient research and long sessions with God Almighty through the intercessionary medium of prayer, I was able to pinpoint the specific nature of His problem."
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, is a condition that afflicts millions. Characterized by cycles of elation followed by bouts of profound depression and despair, the disorder can wreak havoc on both the sufferer and his or her loved ones, particularly if it goes undetected and untreated for an extended period. Though the condition is estimated to affect, in one form or another, 5 percent of the world's population, Monday marks the first time it has been diagnosed in a major deity.
Evidence of God's manic-depression can be found throughout the Universe, from the white-hot explosiveness of quasars to the cold, lifeless vacuum of space. However, theologians note, humanity's exposure to God's affliction comes primarily through His confusing propensity to alternately reward and punish His creations with little rhyme or reason.
"Last week, I lost my dear husband Walter to the flood," said housewife and devout churchgoer Elaine Froman of Davenport, IA. "I asked myself, 'Why? Why would God do something like this, especially when He had just helped Walter overcome a long battle with colon cancer, and we were so happy that we finally had a chance to start our lives anew?'"
New York attorney Ruth Kanner also gained firsthand knowledge of God's wild mood swings.
"Last Saturday, on a gorgeous spring afternoon, I was jogging in Central Park with my daughter. We were marveling at the beauty and majesty of nature, and I remember thinking what a wonderful world we live in. Then, out of nowhere, I heard the gunfire," said Kanner, speaking from her hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. "All they took was a measly $17, and for that, the doctors say my daughter will never walk again. If only Our Holy Father didn't have those mental problems, my precious Katie might not be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life."
Jurgens stressed that God's earthly subjects need to understand that, because of His bipolar condition, He is not in control of His actions and does not realize how they affect others.
"What He needs from us is understanding and patience," Jurgens said. "To paraphrase the words of the Lord God Himself, 'Humans, forgive Him, for He knows not what He does.'"
While such drugs as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft have proven effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder among humans, there is no modern earthly medicine that can be prescribed for a deity as vast and complex as God. Jurgens is in the process of forming a support group, "Living With A Bipolar Creator-Deity," for all of humanity to "get together and discuss their feelings about living in a universe run by an Omnipresent Loved One not fully in control of his emotions."
Jurgens said he believes God's essential condition is seasonal, as evidenced by the bursts of energy and elation associated with springtime and summer, followed by the decay and bleak despair of fall and winter. Sometimes, however, the condition cycles even faster.
"The average person with bipolar disorder may go through as many as 10 or 12 cycles of mania and subsequent depression in a lifetime. In severe cases, a sufferer may experience four or more per year, which is known as 'rapid cycling,'" Jurgens said. "We believe God suffers from the even rarer 'ultra-rapid cycling,' which would account for the many documented cases in which He alternates between benevolence and rage toward humanity within a matter of seconds. For example, last week, He brought desperately needed, life-giving rain to southern Mali while simultaneously leveling Turkey with a devastating earthquake."
Further evidence of God's manic-depression can be found in the Bible, in which the erotomania of the Song of Songs sharply contrasts with the sadness and existential despair of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Job, Jurgens noted, marks the best example of His condition. The book begins with the bleak lamentations of Job and ends with a full-blown manic episode by God, complete with such classic bipolar symptoms as the illusion of omnipotence and delusions of grandeur.
"One of the major 'heresies' of Christian history is the Gnostic belief that the Creator, or 'demiurge,' of this troubled world is a blind, idiot god who is insane," Jurgens said. "This idea surfaces in many religious traditions around the globe. As it turns out, they were only half right: God has His problems like anyone else, but He is essentially trying His best. He just has a condition that makes His emotions fly out of control at times."
"So it's up to us to make the best of God's emotional problems," Jurgens continued. "Thus, mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward." [The Onion]

Important Discovery

Study: Not Being An Asshole Boss May Boost Employee Morale
JULY 30, 2008
WAUKEGAN, IL—In what is being called a breakthrough discovery in worker-administrator relations, a study released Monday in the Journal Of Occupational Science found that not being a total asshole supervisor may be linked to improved worker spirit. "In nearly every trial, we found staff morale runs considerably higher when bosses don't read workers' e-mail over their shoulders, complain about their superior salaries, or act in any way like giant, self- centered assholes," said Erica Gorochow, one of the study's researchers. "Similarly, we found that typical dick manager phrases like 'I don't disagree' can weaken worker disposition by as much as 63 percent." Although the study's findings have already sent shock waves through the business community, Gorochow warned that some of the results may have been compromised, as the bitch lead researcher was breathing down her neck the whole time.

Orwell Was A Blogger

George Orwell's diaries are published in blog form on the George Orwell prize website each day 70 years after they were first written, opening up an opportunity to acquaint and reacquaint with Orwell in a very accessible way, offering eyewitness accounts from the 1930s on everything from unemployment, fascism and communism, but also his musings on the natural world.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A recruitment ad for the Ukrainian army.

Starry Night

A dive into a Van Gogh painting via Second Life.


Not much. You?


Beauty, Sigmund Freud postulated, is an offshoot of our need to find happiness:
We may go from here to consider the interesting case in which happiness in life is predominately sought in the enjoyment of beauty, wherever beauty presents itself to our senses and our judgement - the beauty of human forms and gestures, of natural objects and landscapes and of artistic and even scientific creations. The aesthetic attitude to the goal of life offers little protection against the threat of suffering, but it can compensate for a great deal. The enjoyment of beauty has a peculiar, mildly intoxicating quality of feeling. Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it  

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Estonian Meat Commercial from the 1980s

Cannabis Psychosis

Excessive cannabis use can lead to psychosis as explained, for example, in 2007 here and here, in 200519941993, and 1982
... scientists found a more disturbing outlook for "heavy users" of pot, those who used it daily or weekly: Their risk for psychosis jumped to a range of 50 percent to 200 percent.
As well, combining antidepressants with cannabis can yield acute psychosis in which confusion, amnesia, delusions, hallucinations, anxiety, agitation and hypomanic symptoms predominate; discussed here and here.

The Theory Of Everything

Has A Surfer/Snowboarder Who Lives In A Van Rewritten Physics?

A few weeks ago, Lisi posted an academic paper called "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" to, a site for scientists that's maintained by Cornell University. The paper outlined his attempt at a theory that would lay out the physics of the universe in one tidy package. For half a century, researchers have sought to reconcile gravity with the three forces that operate inside atoms, where gravity seems to hold no sway. No one—not even Einstein, who spent the later years of his life trying—has been able to explain how these four forces can coexist.
To understand fully Lisi's own stab at the problem requires a grasp of mathematics far beyond all but a handful of people, but the basic premise is that all physical forces and particles can be explained by mapping them onto an incredibly complex geometrical structure known as E8. If Lisi is right, his theory would give an elegant shape to the physics of the cosmos, and E8 would become as significant as E=MC2. This would be a remarkable feat coming from any of the most accomplished physicists alive. Coming from a surf bum, it would be beyond extraordinary.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ideas For Sale

Jake Bronstein recently bought a toy vending machine off the Internet. He filled the toy capsules with ideas of fun things to do and started placing the machine in various spots around New York. For 50 cents you get the original toy, an idea, and a map to guide you to the location for your idea. Each capsule also contains a quarter, refunding half of your purchase price (the machine wouldn’t let him charge less than 50 cents.)

Srinagar, Kashmir, 1948

Henri Cartier-Bresson [1908 - 2004] is regarded as the most important photographer of the 20th Century. More of his work can be seen here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Professor's Last Lecture

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."
- Randy Pausch died today of pancreatic cancer.

Barack has me down for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

He owes it all to me.

Barcelona's Placa de George Orwell

... has been fitted with a CCTV

Are There Gays in Iran?


"Karma is so called because it makes whatever is made."  

The Visuddhimagga ("The path to purity") is a Theravada Buddhist commentary written circa 430 CE in Sri Lanka and is one of the earliest surviving records of the Buddha's teachings. It is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka canon of scriptures.

More translated text here.

The Creation Of Creationism

John Habgood, formerly Anglican Archbishop of York, reviews “The Creationists” by Ronald L. Numbers:
Ronald Numbers has given us what must surely be the definitive study of the rise and growth of a cluster of well-meaning, but irrational, theories over a period of some 160 years. The Creationists is an expanded version of an earlier edition published in 1991. During the interval, the proportion of Americans who favour some form of Creationism has risen from 47 per cent to 65.5 per cent and the phenomenon has spread worldwide. The fact that such extremism has now become global should worry theologians as well as scientists.
That came after a long discussion about creationism’s history. Here’s a bit more:
Fundamentalism tends to discount the significance of historical development in the biblical narratives, preferring to treat each revealed word as a relevant expression of God’s truth. This encourages a concentration on supposedly infallible statements, detached from their historical context and from the intentions of those who wrote them, thus paradoxically imitating those sciences in which statements of fact can be treated as objectively precise. Conflict with science is the inevitable result. The “fact” of God’s design, for instance, has to be defended in ways that are incompatible with the “fact” of natural selection.
Habgood's entire review is here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Corridor in the Asylum

"It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill - it's a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I'm all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I'll always remain half crazy."
- Vincent van Gogh [1853 - 1890]

Regarding Bipolar Disorder:
Throughout his life, Van Gogh gave evidence of mental instability having a difficult and moody personality. Various biographies - all from the perspective of history - describe him as suffering with epilepsy, depression, psychotic attacks, delusions, and bipolar disorder. In December 1888, Van Gogh experienced a psychotic episode in which he threatened the life of Paul Gauguin, a personal friend and fellow artist. This episode also brought about the notorious incident in which Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own left ear offering it as a gift to a prostitute. Subsequently, he consigned himself to a mental asylum for more than a year, but left in frustration because his condition was not improving.
“On July 27, 1890, Vincent walks to a wheat field and shoots himself in the chest. He stumbles back to his lodging, where he dies two days later, on July 29, with Theo at his side. He is buried in Auvers on July 30. Among the mourners are Lucien Pissarro, Emile Bernard, and Père Tanguy. Bernard describes how Vincent's coffin is covered with yellow flowers, ‘his favorite color ... Close by, too, his easel, his camp stool, and his brushes had been placed on the ground beside the coffin' " [Van Gogh Museum].

Brian Regan

The basic idea behind all string theories is that the fundamental constituents of reality are strings of extremely small size (possibly of the order of the Planck length, about 10−35 m) which vibrate at specific resonant frequencies. Thus, any particle should be thought of as a tiny vibrating object, rather than as a point. This object can vibrate in different modes (just as a guitar string can produce different notes), with every mode appearing as a different particle (electron, photon etc.). Strings can split and combine, which would appear as particles emitting and absorbing other particles, presumably giving rise to the known interactions between particles.
Nice String Theory vids here.

The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

Stephen Fry's BBC documentary on Bipolar Disorder is available below in 7 nine minute sections.

The bipolar spectrum is vast. Fry takes no meds and functions at a high level but others aren't in that situation. The science is still in the early stages of sorting this out:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The earth is old. Although I know a Mensa Creationist who disagrees.

The Right Honorable Sir Ernest Cassel

In 1902, Cassel became King Edward VII's private financial advisor and treasurer. His granddaughter Edwina married Lord Louis Mountbatten whose nephew Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth.

The Cassel Hospital was founded in 1921 for WWI psychological casualties.  


"The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them."

"I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on." 
- Mark Rothko [1903 - 1970]



"In their most extreme forms, monotheistic religions are deeply intolerant. If there is only one right way of doing things, every other way is wrong. If we are good, others are evil. By contrast, the ancient Greeks and Romans welcomed new gods into their pantheon and worshipped them alongside the old. They had no crusades or jihads. The Roman authorities threw Christians to the lions because they mistook the early Christians' intolerance for seditiousness. They did not seek to kill them because they rejected the Christians' God."
- Mary Lefkowitz, author of "Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths" reviewed here.

Arabian Dreams

"All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come true."
- T.E. Lawrence [1888 - 1935]

Hungry and Foolish

Stanford University Commencement address text here.

Neil Young's Car


Apelles Painting Campaspe is the Presence of Alexander the Great
- Jacques-Louis David [1748 - 1825]

Campaspe, the mistress of Alexander the Great, was painted by Apelles, who had the reputation in Antiquity of being the greatest of painters. Seeing the beauty of the nude portrait, Alexander saw that the artist appreciated Campaspe (and loved her) more than he. And so Alexander kept the portrait but presented Campaspe to Apelles. " ... the most generous gift of any patron and one which would remain the model for patronage and painters on through the Renaissance." More here.

John Keats

"Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?"

"I have left no immortal work behind me--nothing to make my friends proud of my memory--but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered."

- John Keats [1795 - 1821]