board walk rain wallpaper, debating brain enhancing drugs

board walk rain wallpaper

board walk rain wallpaper

Is modafinil safe in the long term?

Modafinil has emerged as the crown prince of smart drugs, that seductive group of pharmaceutical friends that promise enhanced memory, motivation, and an unrelenting ability to focus, all for hours at a time.

In the absence of long-term data, the media, particularly the student media, has tended to be relaxed about potential side-effects. The Oxford Tab, for example, simply shrugs: Who cares?

The novelist MJ Hyland, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, wrote a paean to the drug in the Guardian recently – understandably, for her, any potential side-effects are worth the risk given the benefits she’s experienced.

But should stressed students, tempted by a quick fix, be worried about what modafinil could be doing their brains in the long term?

Professor Barbara Sahakian, at the University of Cambridge, has been researching modafinil as a possible clinical treatment for the cognitive problems of patients with psychosis. She’s fascinated by healthy people taking these drugs and has co-authored a recent book on the subject.

“Some people just want the competitive edge – they want to do better at exams so they can get into a better university or get a better degree. And there’s another group of people who want to function the best they can all the time. But people have also told me that they’ve used these drugs to help them do tasks that they’ve found not very interesting, or things they’ve been putting off.”

How does the drug work? “We believe modafinil is a drug with multiple actions,” Sahakian says. “This is because it acts on several neurotransmitter systems in the brain. I suspect that because it’s got these multiple actions, you’re getting a number of things improving but not all for the same reason.”

It has been reported that modafinil improves memory, if taken during cramming sessions before exams, by 10%. That could easily be the difference between an A and a B, or a C or B. In business it could mean the difference between looking like a wiz to the boss or just average. Given the pressures to succeed, especially at getting a degree that can make a difference in earnings of a million dollars or more over a lifetime, there is no going back. Since there are also indications that long term chronic use of modafinil can cause some sleep and personality issues related to proper sleep patterns, the only practical solution is for people to be as informed as possible and hope they and their doctors respond appropriately. Credit to this writer for mentioning how modafinil helps someone suffering from multiple sclerosis. What is happening with mind enhancing drugs is the same thing that happened with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Those drugs either did not work well for some people, or some had adverse reactions over time. That 10% of people made their issues known. Which was a good thing. Let others know about your experience. But that was not the same experience for most people. People almost crippled by depression or anxiety, suddenly felt better. They did better at work. Their personal relationships improved. So some filthy rich drug companies made more money. That is another issue. The arguments went mainly two ways. Bad experience means these drugs are bad for everyone. The other – derived from old Calvinistic cultural taboos about feeling good so easily, must be a bad thing. Somehow a moderate middle ground keeps getting loss. What is good for the individual.

Why am I not surprised that national security and the way people view it, operates a lot like high school, Do You Wanna Know a Secret?

Of course, outside the psychology laboratory, people do not have the benefit of directly comparing secret and public information, so they must accept at face value government officials’ claims about the value of secrets. In other words, they apply the secrecy heuristic, assuming that the government’s decision to classify a piece of information is accurate, rather than just an example of bureaucratic overreach or an agency’s allergy to public transparency.

Our study helps explain the public’s support for government intelligence gathering. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that a majority of Americans thought it was acceptable for the N.S.A. to track Americans’ phone activity to investigate terrorism. Some frustrated commentators have concluded that Americans have much less respect for their own privacy than they should.

But our research suggests another conclusion: the secret nature of the program itself may lead the public to assume that the information it gathers is valuable, without even examining what that information is or how it might be used.

This is no less disturbing, of course. If people exaggerate the value of secret information, they may too readily cede privacy in the interest of national security, even if they value that privacy highly.

In high school or at the work place, if someone tells you something is secret, it is common to be a high value on that information. Even though if carefully considered it really is not all that important. Frequently it is information that is bound to be found out by everyone anyway.


nasa hangar one, the magic of the corporate nanny state

This and the following picture, Construction of Hangar One at NASA Sunnyvale circa 1931 – 1934. According to Wikipedia, the hangar is so large and the ceilings so high, there is occasionally some fog in the hangar.

We did not have a space program in the 1930s, but we did have a balloon program. The hangar has  been designated a Naval Historical Monument. Though no one wants to pay for upkeep and renovation, it may be sold off.

We have an one continuous magic show in the U.S. A bit of slight hand. Look over there are the people getting food assistance and other stuff “we” cannot “afford.” Do not look at the subsistence wages being paid or the corporate nanny state, “Believe It or Not!” 13 Mindblowing Facts About America’s Tax-Dodging Corporations

1. We’re told we can’t “afford” full Social Security benefits, even though closing corporate tax-haven loopholes would pay for Obama’s “chained CPI” benefit cut more than ten times over!

Abusive offshore tax havens cost the US $150 billion in lost tax revenue every year (via FACT Coalition). That’s $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The “chained CPI” cut, proposed by President Obama and supported by Republicans, is projected to “save” a total of $122 billion to $130 billion over the same time period by denying benefits to seniors and disabled people.

It’s true. “Serious” politicians and pundits are demanding that ordinary people sacrifice earned benefits, while at the same time allowing corporations to avoid more than ten times as much in taxes.

5. The amount of money US corporations are holding offshore is an estimated one trillion dollars!

Rather than tax these profits the way other countries do, corporate politicians are promoting a tax “repatriation” break that would let corporations “bring this money home” while paying even less than their currently low rates.

They tried that in 2004 and it didn’t create any jobs. In fact, corporations took the tax break and then fired thousands of people. What “repatriation” did do is line a lot of wealthy investors’ pockets.

So, naturally, they want to do it again.

Believe in the magic, it is better to be to outraged that someone bought a can of carbonated cola with their food stamps, than to be outraged corporations are leeching off the public for some serious amounts of cash.

Zephyr Dancing with Flora 1870

Zephyr Dancing with Flora (1870). By Giovanni Maria Benzoni(Italian, 1809-1873). While a surprising work, Benzoni seems to have taken liberties with ancient legends. Combining the Greek myths of the wind god Zephyr with the Roman legend of the goddess of flowers, Flora.

landscape wallpapers, all your uterus belong to us, linnaeus and the teen troglodyte

tuscany spring wallpaper

tuscany spring wallpaper 1920×1080

storm break wallpaper

storm break wallpaper 1680×1050

marriage contract

Jewish marriage contract, manuscript, ink and paint on paper, dated 13 September 1871 at Itsfahan, Iran. I don’t know what the translation is. We’re not pass such things, prenuptial agreements are the modern era marriage contracts. While the history is interesting in light of modern day tensions with Iran and a Jewish couple wedding in the same territory over a hundred years ago, what drew my attention was the hand etched art.

Some organically grown links:

This SCOTUS decision didn’t make the headlines, A Legal Blow to Sustainable Development

While that may sound obscure, the decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District will result in long-lasting harm to America’s communities. That’s because the ruling creates a perverse incentive for municipal governments to reject applications from developers rather than attempt to negotiate project designs that might advance both public and private goals — and it makes it hard for communities to get property owners to pay to mitigate any environmental damage they may cause.

The IRS “Scandal” Was A Scam

Monday’s revelation that progressive as well as conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been singled out for review by the Internal Revenue Service left one pressing question: Why [[then]] did the inspector general’s report detailing improper scrutiny only mention conservative groups?

Last night we got the answer: The IG only reported on conservative groups because that’s what Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the notoriously partisan chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told him to do.

That is some mighty fine corruption there Congress Critter Issa (R-CA), when you can get the U.S. Inspector General to spin reports for you.

Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) was one of the great pioneers of what would become  modern science. That is not to say he was always right. In 1758 he tried to purchase a teenager in London as a scientific specimen. He thought she was a troglodyte

Wendy Davis Showed Texas’ GOP Boys How to Respect Women. Just as I read that story, a wire service reported that Gov. Perry (R-TX)  has called for another special session so his gerrymandered legislature can give him clear title of Grand Wizard of All Texas Uterus. Perry and Governor Kasich (R-OH) plan to have an annual convention of Conservative Men With a Uterus.

the day texas became more like iran, field meets the sky wallpaper

field meets the sky wallpaper, summer

field meets the sky wallpaper


Imagine one of them foreign countries, ya know where they ain’t got no common sense. Some banana republic, some Ubeckystan kind’a place. Some representative gets up in their capital and proposes some legislation that says the government should make personal health care decisions for its citizens to the point that the government takes away individual autonomy over their own bodies. because, you know, the government and this legislator’s invisible friend in the sky have decided this is the RIGHT thing to do. Of course that legislator, filled to over flowing with common sense and the divine knowledge of their invisible friend would know all there is to know about the simple biology involved in their proposal. Welcome to the mental state of Conservistan, located in Texastan, Texas Legislator Claims Rape Kits Are A Form Of Abortion

Texas Rep. Jody Laubenberg (R) sponsored several anti-abortion measures currently making their way to the Governor’s desk. Taken together, they would shut down the vast majority of the state’s women’s health clinics and criminalize abortions after 20 weeks. But in reasoning out why she did not support an exemption for rape victims in the 20-week ban, Laubenberg betrayed a woeful lack of information on the procedures a victim of rape undergoes — namely, the “rape kit,” which is used to collect data on the assailant and in no way relates to pregnancy:

When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”

The remark about rape kits, which is not accurate, sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg, who has difficulty debating bills, then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.

Rape kits are used to collect DNA evidence from the bodies of rape victims; after a victim enters a hospital, staff collect bodily fluid, residue under the victim’s nails, and any blood or hair samples that could be relevant for an investigation. Rape kits are in no way equivalent to an abortion.

Jody feels very deeply that ignorance and malevolence is indeed a good basis for ramming her legislative agenda down everyone’s throat, including forcing rape victims to carry the babies of rapists to full term. I do not have Jody’s address and I strongly advise against it, but one assumes that if Jody received regular instructions from the public inquiring about her uterus and vagina and what she should and should not do with those parts of her body, she would welcome such advice. Since she feels that her uterus and the uterus of every woman in America is the general public’s business, perhaps she could start sending out mailers and buy billboards and give everyone in  Texastan regular updates. Jody would feel right at home in Iran where the mullahs think much the same way. The mullahs are even called conservatives.

A secondhand clothing and pawn shop

A secondhand clothing and pawn shop and a cheap rate hotel. Memphis, Tenn. October, 1939.

If you like virtual traveling you might enjoy this post from one of the neighbors, Spanish Basque Country : the Atlantic coast ( 56 photos ).


Tumblr is not the only guilty party, but quotes are part of the Tumblr culture ( along with a few other quirks). Some quotes stand on their own, but many require context. Often they are repeated incessantly, draining then of their power. Often they seem to substitute for the quoter’s lack of imagination. Henry David Thoreau addressed this phenomenon and general poor habit 150 years ago,

It would be a truer discipline for the writer to take the least film of thought that floats in the twilight sky of his mind for his theme, about which he has scarcely one idea (that would be teaching his ideas how to shoot), faintest intimations, shadowiest subjects, make a lecture on this, by assiduity and attention get perchance two views of the same, increase a little the stock of knowledge, clear a new field instead of manuring the old; instead of making a lecture out of such obvious truths, hackneyed to the minds of all thinkers. We seek too soon to ally the perceptions of the mind to the experience of the hand, to prove our gossamer truths practical, to show their connection with our every-day life (better show their distance from our every-day life), to relate them to the cider-mill and the banking institution. Ah, give me pure mind, pure thought! Let me not be in haste to detect the universal law; let me see more clearly a particular instance of it! Much finer themes I aspire to, which will yield no satisfaction to the vulgar mind, not one sentence for them. Perchance it may convince such that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy. Dissolve one nebula, and so destroy the nebular system and hypothesis. Do not seek expressions, seek thoughts to be expressed. By perseverance you get two views of the same rare truth.

If an excerpt counts, then I just broke the rule myself.


water drops wallpaper, pervasive culture of conservative corruption

water drops wallpaper

water drops wallpaper


Culture of Conservatism Exposed at Morally Corrupt Bank of America

Six former employees of Bank of America have come forward, alleging that the big bank intentionally denied eligible homeowners mortgage loan modifications, and lied to those homeowners about the status of their mortgage payments and documents.

Bank of America allegedly used these dirty tactics to lead homeowners into foreclosures and in-house loan modifications, both of which helped reap massive profits for BOA’s bottom-line.


Employees who did the best and most dirty tricks got gift cards and bonuses. It sounds like a bad satire that went straight to DVD because no one would believe it.

Philosophers are still good for something, Privacy and the Threat to the Self

To get a sense of what I mean, imagine that I could telepathically read all your conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings — I could know about them in as much detail as you know about them yourself — and further, that you could not, in any way, control my access. You don’t, in other words, share your thoughts with me; I take them. The power I would have over you would of course be immense. Not only could you not hide from me, I would know instantly a great amount about how the outside world affects you, what scares you, what makes you act in the ways you do.  And that means I could not only know what you think, I could to a large extent control what you do.

Chipping away at privacy is the loss of freedom by way of dehumanizing people. The people who think they have nothing to hide  have not contemplated the the workings of their essential selves. Those who think they’re saving us in the name of national security are using a similar rationale as the old East German Stasi. That didn’t work out too well.

the spirit of main street

Main Street


Chapter one manuscript of Main Street, with hand written annotations and changes by Sinclair Lewis.

ON a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.

A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.

It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.

The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.

Lewis’s prose is so spare, yet glides along  to the end of a page. It is like those walks where lost in thought you suddenly look around and wonder how you got there. I think Main Street is still read in some college classes and as extra credit reading in some high school English classes. I think if it would suddenly be propelled into the public spotlight Main Street would still cause resentment. There are some people who have a political and cultural agenda that is served by preserving the myth of the idyllic small town. No group of people wants to admit that they have problems with pettiness, gossip and back biting. Not that those issues do not exist in cities. But cities have generally presented themselves as something else – The Big Apple, centers of commerce, hubs of culture; thus they’re generally not as hypocritical about being something they’re not. More important than place is the pockets of regressive thinking, the obsessive need to pass petty judgements. You can read Main Street for free – they have plain text, HTML, Kindle and EPUB.

“They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word “dude” is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always peddlers or pants-makers.

“Where does she get all them the’ries?” marveled Uncle Whittier Smail; while Aunt Bessie inquired, “Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My! If there are,” and her tone settled the fact that there were not, “I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!”


The Shenandoah (or ZR-1) moored to the mast of the airship tender Patoka. c1924.

The Shenandoah (or ZR-1) moored to the mast of the airship tender Patoka. c1924. I came across this great image the other day and just wanted to post it. I’ve posted about the The Shenandoah tragedy before.

rainy day times square, rent seeking american plutocracy equals money fueled power

rainy day times square

rainy day times square


H/T to Mike for The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rent Seeking in Top 1 Percent Incomes

The debate over the extent and causes of rising inequality of American incomes and wages has now raged for at least two decades. In this paper, we will make four arguments. First, the increase in the incomes and wages of the top 1 percent over in the last three decades should largely be interpreted as driven by the creation and/or redistribution of economic rents, and not simply as the outcome of well-functioning competitive markets rewarding skills or productivity based on marginal differences. This rise in rents accruing to the top 1 percent could be the result of increased opportunities for rent-shifting, increased incentives for rent-shifting, or a combination of both. Second, this rise in incomes at the very top has been the primary impediment to living standards growth for low and moderate-income households approaching the growth rate of economy-wide productivity. Third, because this rise in top incomes is largely driven by rents, there is the potential for checking (or even reversing) this rise through policy measures with little to no adverse impact on overall economic growth. Lastly, this analysis suggests two complementary approaches for policymakers wishing to reverse the rise in the top 1 percent’s share of income: dismantling the institutional sources of their increased ability to channel rents their way and/or reducing the return to this rent-seeking by significantly increasing marginal rates of taxation on high incomes.

The realization that top tear incomes are not connected to achievement, expertise, the noble forces of mythical perfect markets is an important concept for people to understand. Compensation of CEOs has become largely disconnected from merit. It is a cultural phenomenon with economic effects, not the result of market forces. There are certainly people in that income bracket with a conscience and realize this. On the other hand we have people with power and money. Historically and all too often psychologically, people with both will do and say whatever they have to in order to keep that money and power.