free will and addiction, abstract watermelon-green wallpaper, dead books

In classical philosophy free will is a given. Rational agents have to select a course of actions that will affect their surroundings and their future. Note that making choices that creates a continuum of free will requires some rationalism. To be rational one must be clear minded. To the extent that one’s choices are freely determined, not swayed by mental issues, moral corruption, theological conditioning or addiction. Even if one is a determinist one can still acknowledge, with some philosophical consistency that decisions will be made in one’s life and those made within the cloud of addiction are more likely not to be in one’s rational self interests. The addiction itself – like alcohol – are in the mean time taking a tremendous physical and emotional toll. In reviewing the progress of modern psychotherapy there have only been a handful of victories in being able to make changes in behavior, addition is one of them. between clinical therapy or counseling – in the way of Alcoholics Anonymous or something similar, there has been a fair amount of success. Still people die from alcoholism. I’ve run across a couple alternatives in the last couple days. because one involves a controversial controlled substance, that certainly short circuits any marginal freedom to exercise rational choices. LSD as effective as standard treatment for alcoholism

Looking to kick the bottle? Taking an acid trip could be one route to giving up alcohol. The idea that you can treat addictions with hallucinogens is undergoing a revival.

That’s according to Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. The pair looked at six studies that had investigated the use of LSD for treating alcoholism – all of which were carried out between 1966 and 1970, unsurprisingly.

In total, the trials included 536 alcoholic participants. Some 325 of them were given a single dose of LSD. The success of the therapy was measured by how long the individuals were able to abstain from alcohol, as well as by their social adjustment to a life without booze.

Putting all the results together, the pair found that people who took LSD saw more improvement than those who did not. Almost 60 per cent of LSD-treated people had improved before their first follow-up session, compared with 38 per cent of those who hadn’t taken the drug. What’s more, people who had taken LSD were still doing better than those that had not six months later.

One problem with this kind of therapy going mainstream is that medical doctors tend to like to know the exact mechanism for why a drug works. Otherwise they feel they’re are using the patient as a guinea pig. One psychopharmacologist at Imperial College London stated his best guess:

Psychedelics probably work in addiction by making the brain function more chaotically for a period – a bit like shaking up a snow globe – weakening reinforced brain connections and dynamics.

One reason that he and the Norwegian researchers might be on to something is the phenomenon of shock in changing other behaviors. People frequently go through a life changing experience – especially events that are perceived to be near-death experience, and suddenly make what they feel are long over due changes – spending more time with their kids, changing their diet, bicycling more or doing some volunteer work. From what I’ve read, depending on the person, LSD can be a pleasant experience or a nightmare. Not exactly stuff that lends itself to casual self experimentation. Maybe social media is the answer – Sober Is My New Drunk (Excerpt) by Paul Carr

When I decided to quit drinking, and when I realized that AA wasn’t for me, I knew I’d have to find a route to sobriety that was as public as possible. I knew that the only way I’d be able to reverse my reputation as a boozer would be to tell the whole world—or at least the part of the world I lived in—that I was quitting.

Fortunately, we live in a time when it’s easier than ever to share our secrets with friends and strangers alike. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter and blogging and video sharing and all that good stuff, a decision to give up drinking can easily be publicized for all to see. Which is precisely what I did. I fired up my laptop and wrote an open letter on my blog, explaining that I had a serious problem with alcohol and asking for the support of those around me.

My aim wasn’t to encourage all my friends to congratulate me on my decision or rally to my side clutching six-packs of Diet Coke (although many did). Rather, I wanted to create a situation in which, no matter where I was—a cocktail party in San Francisco or a dive bar in Madrid—there was always a chance that someone had read my blog post and was waiting to catch me with a drink in my hand.

Of course, I was lucky. I had a reasonably well-read blog and a few thousand Twitter followers. After writing my The Trouble With Drink, The Trouble With Me post, roughly 250,000 people clicked on the link to read it. That was a major incentive to stick to my promise. ( I should mention that Carr’s book is available for Kindle, iPad, Nook and some other formats)

Carr’s success story is pretty amazing. I find a lot not to like about social media and many of the claims to its wonderfulness exaggerated at best. This belongs in the relatively short list of wonderful possibilities for social media and personal health. While its works to some degree because of peer pressure – which in itself certainly has dark side – it can also be part of a positive feedback loop.

victory garden poster circa 1939-1945. darn hippie liberals have been trying to get everyone to be as self sufficient as possible and eat healthy for over half a century.

The introduction to a long read about the wishes of a fiction writer, The Beautiful Afterlife of Dead Books

A few weeks ago, I spent several afternoons at a book morgue, otherwise known as The Monkey’s Paw secondhand bookshop in Toronto. It was a refuge of sorts. I had been feeling slightly down about writing and wanted to linger in a place of pure bibliophilia. Like many novelists, I tend to experience an existential crisis every time I finish a book. Why bother? Why engage in such an intangible and self-involved vocation when I could be doing something more tangibly and socially useful? (i.e., stopping a pipeline, regrouting the bathroom.) Why write longform narrative in a world that prefers to live swiftly and episodically?

In the past, this soul searching has lodged itself in the personal-neurotic realm. But lately it has ballooned into a broader crisis about how much less novels matter to the mainstream than when I started writing.

The net and all the people who write about books, writing and the digital age are having one big debate about the future of the written word – especially the future of fiction. As of today – content is still king. Whatever medium you like or see in the future, whether it is a still binding or an iPad – it will need to be filled with content. Fiction’s biggest problem is that everyone wants to write. Content is instantly self published. can or will the masses – frequently without editors to sort through the chaff – find and reward the good stuff.

abstract watermelon and green wallpaper

I have some artists and illustrators who follow this blog, I thought they might enjoy this if no one else. Some professional typographers on typography, Typography | Off Book | PBS Arts

Pennsylvania Conservatives Prop Up Fracking Companies With Crony Corporate Welfare and Give Average Citizens The Shaft. Conservatives believe in local government right up to the point it gets in the way of their agenda.

The Radical Libertarian Argument Against Health Care Reform. If we go strictly by legal precedent challenges to the Affordable Care Act do not stand a chance.

Another good read if you have the time – “Island of Vice”: Teddy Roosevelt vs. booze and sex in old New York, A new history of TR’s stint as the Big Apple’s police commissioner illustrates the folly of moral crusades.

Some of the most entertaining parts of “Island of Vice” describe the ingenuity of saloonkeepers in circumventing the excise laws. Because a “hotel” that also served food was entitled to sell booze on Sundays, many bars converted their second floors to “rooms” — cubicles where drinks could be ordered — or required that each beer be accompanied by a sandwich. It wasn’t necessary that the sandwich actually be eaten and often the same dessicated specimen would be passed from customer to customer. A joke circulated about a dive where drinking had to be temporarily suspended (with much cursing) because “somebody ate the sandwich.” An unanticipated side effect of these bogus “hotels” was that females of the type Roosevelt described as “semi-respectable” ended up drinking in dangerous proximity to private “rooms” where they might easily lose what remained of their virtue.

Liz Lawrence – Bedroom Hero