space bike, wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

Spacelander Bicycle

Spacelander Bicycle. Designed by Benjamin Bowden for a 1946 exhibition of British industrial design. While this great postwar example of streamline futuristic design was a critical success at the exhibition, Bowden had a difficult time finding a manufacturer who would put it into production. By the time it found a manufacturer in the U.S. in 1960, much of the public’s taste in this kind of style had changed. Only around 500 were sold. Though now it is was of the most highly valued old bicycles on the market.

Study finds wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person’s sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.

Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost “there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism).”

“Narcissism is a multi-faceted and complex construct, but that wealth is specifically associated with it suggests that as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview,” he explained.

“The studies in the paper measure narcissism in a whole host of ways, including measuring how likely someone is to stare at their reflection in a mirror (wealthier people do that more often). Even students who come from wealth, but have done little to create their own wealth (yet), report more entitlement. This suggests that wealth shapes an ideology of self-interest and entitlement that’s transferred culturally from one generation to the next.”

This is obviously not always the case, some people with wealth turn out to be great humanitarians. For those people the Spiderman message about great powers  being coupled with great responsibility does sink in with some people. I’ve experienced this quite a bit. There is an attitude of entitlement over the phone or in person – do you know who I am – I want what I want, I want it now and I deserve it because I am a executive VP or a wealthy lawyer or banker. Very strange behavior, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

beach walkway

beach walkway. I noticed this morning that the 6 am sunrises are gone and then along came the big yellow school buses. Summer will soon be gone.

This recent editorial is a good example of the culture of entitlement and narcissistic behavior that guides our economy, The Leveraged Buyout of America

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy.

These assets – airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts – are being packaged as investment instruments, a bet on their future value, much like the collateralized debt obligations that contributed so much to the Great Recession of 2007. And their are doing it with your money, your deposits – the excess of deposits over loans – as collateral for borrowing. Once again making bets that they cannot pay, if like the housing market, values should go down.


the feudal serfdom of hobby lobby, a possible remedy for muscle wasting

summer wheat wallpaper

summer wheat wallpaper


Imagine a country where within that country there is a feudal city with a castle and a great wall surrounding it. The city, castle, ruling family and the residents are  part of a country. The country has a set of rules, like say a democratic republic constitution. Oh, and many of the residents of the feudal castle are there because economic circumstances are such there is not many other choices available. The feudal lords of the castle say they do not have to follow the rules that the country has established to protect the rights of all serfs citizens because those rules are offensive to the beliefs of the ruling family. They claim this option to disregard the rights of individuals is perfectly in line with a constitutional right to worship as they please. They’re claiming that their rights supersede the rights of the serfs that serve them, clean the castle, produce the food; actually the serfs produce the wealth that makes it possible for the castle to exist. This true life tale of modern feudal lords is being acted out by a large corporation known as Hobby Lobby and book store chain, Mardel. The remarkable thing about their court successes thus far is that the kingdom of Hobby Lobby is making it easier for someone else to start their own kingdom where they might have prayer rugs and all the employees are required to face Mecca or not let employees have deodorant because their messiah likes human body odor. So lots of fun stuff to look forward thanks to Hobby Lobby.



 Motorola’s new combination TV and Stereo Record playing models

August 31, 1949.  New York. Georgia Lee (l) of San Antonio, TX and Lois Langley (r) of Pasadena, CA, try out the newest and one of the most expensive of Motorola’s new combination TV and Stereo Record playing models, the Gainsborough, which retails for $795. Maybe some day they’ll make something that plays music, media, connects to a world wide network of information and makes phone calls that is small enough to fit in your pocket.

A “smart” way of using testosterone to prevent muscle wasting

New Australian research suggests that a small dose of testosterone directed solely to the liver stimulates protein synthesis, likely preventing muscle loss and wasting, and potentially promoting muscle growth. The researchers believe they have developed a safe and effective treatment for men and women, that could prevent the muscle wasting associated with many chronic diseases and with ageing.

Dr Vita Birzniece and Professor Ken Ho, from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, showed in healthy postmenopausal women that a small dose of the male hormone testosterone prevented protein wasting. The pure crystalline testosterone, taken orally, went straight to the liver, and the dose (40mg/day) was small enough to ensure it was contained there, with no spillover to the bloodstream and other organs. The findings are now published online in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

This new approach allows people to benefit from testosterone’s ability to stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle strength. At the same time, it sidesteps the side effects of testosterone when given in the usual way – administered in much larger doses by injection, gel or patch through the skin.

When testosterone is injected, it goes directly to peripheral tissues and major organs, including the brain. This can cause unwanted side effects, including aggressive behaviour and heightened libido. It can also cause heart damage, and in women induce facial hair and a deeper voice.

When taken orally in a small dose, it is absorbed through the gut and goes straight to and acts on the liver, where it is also broken down, so that no other tissue or organ is exposed.

As humans age their muscles tend t waste. It also does not help that on average people become more sedentary as they get older. So they do not do the  muscle strengthening exercises which they should be doing to counter the wasting. Just taking a tablet would be nice.

never let a libertarian take over your business, ultrasound may be the new anti-depressant

red and yellow wallpaper

red and yellow wallpaper


How a Libertarian Used Ayn Rand’s Crazy Philosophy to Drive Sears Into the Ground

…He thought he could increase profits, too. After making a nice wad of cash from Kmart by selling off the valuable real estate sitting under dozens of stores, shutting down 600 stores and laying off tens of thousands of workers in the name of cost-cutting and thereby jacking up the stock price, he got bigger ideas. He would use Kmart to take over another ginormous retailer, Sears.

…A handy chart on Yahoo Finance show that buybacks reached a high [13] just about the time that Sears’ sales went into the toilet. Stock buybacks are really just an effort to manipulate stock prices, and they don’t help a company’s long-term health. They divert money away from the things that a company needs to have to succeed, like decent salaries for workers and investments in new products and services. Wonder why Apple is no longer making anything interesting? Why its retail workers get paid squat? Check out what they’ve been doing with stock buybacks.

Lampert’s buyback scheme has raked in a pile of money for him and his early investors, but it’s also flushing the company down the drain. Hoovering cash out of any firm, especially a retailer that needs appealing stores and strong advertising, will eventually crush sales.

And so it has. Sears has lost half its value in five years [14].

Lambert also worshiped the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, who is still a saint, regardless of how often he is proved wrong, to people like former VP candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Hayek and his clones are pretty much in charge of the conservative-libertarian economic movement. In some ways they have turned the U.S. into Lambert’s version of Sears.

Roofs and Sky

Roofs and Sky, 1939. By Louis Lozowick  (American (born Ukraine), Ludvinovka 1892–1973 South Orange, New Jersey). This work was originally published by the Roosevelt era Works Progress Administration.

Ultrasound waves applied to the brain can alter patients’ moods

Ultrasound waves applied to particular parts of the brain have been found to be capable of altering a patient’s mood. The research, conducted by a team from the University of Arizona, may one day lead to the development of non-drug-based interventions for conditions such as depression.

The research hinged on the fact that ultrasound vibrates in megahertz at around 10 million vibrations per second — roughly the same rate that microtubules (protein structures in the brain linked to mood) resonate.

He placed an ultrasound transducer against his head for 15 seconds, but initially felt no effect. “And then about a minute later I started to feel like I’d had a martini.”

I’m not wild about feeling like I just drink a martini, that aside they might be on to something. They experimented with different frequencies and various time intervals, finding that a 30-second blast at 2 megahertz made patients feel happier and generally better for up to 40 minutes after the treatment.




modern still life wallpaper

modern still life wallpaper

modern still life wallpaper


This editorial points out some recent egregious abuses of restrictive voting rights laws, Voting rights ruling ignored centuries of discrimination

Last year, the law ( section 5 of The Voting Rights Act) stopped attempts that would have limited voting by nonwhites in Florida, Texas and South Carolina.

It (section 5) prevented Alaska in 2008 from eliminating precincts in Native American villages. Without the intervention, voters would have been forced to travel by sea or air to cast ballots.

It stopped cancellation of a city council election in Kilmichael, Miss., in 2001 after candidates of color were set to win for the first time in local history.

[  ].. and more here, In other words, five-sixths or more of the cases of proven election discrimination from 1957 through 2013 have taken place in jurisdictions subject to Section 5 oversight – which would mean very skillful targeting for any government program.

Many of the discriminating counties harbor repeat offenders. For example, since 1975, violations of the Voting Rights Act have been found in various Shelby County government entities 20 times. So the test case selected by opponents of the Voting Rights Act  to demonstrate that the coverage scheme is outdated and that discrimination is a thing of the past is, in fact, the poster child for Section 5’s effectiveness and the continued need for the VRA.

The conservative trolls rushed to the comment section to claim 1) There was no reason to keep section 5. Obviously didn’t care what the editorial said or the examples provided. 2) One guy said he could not buy whiskey or rent a motel room without a proper picture ID so what is the problem. Voting is a fundamental right in a democratic republic, buying whiskey and renting motel rooms not so much. 3) This will stop all the illegal aliens from voting twice.  So we’re passing laws now to address problems that only exist in the fetid imagination of paranoid nativists. Impersonating someone to vote or voting twice is not a problem, voter fraud is close to non-existent. 4) Liberals have lost this argument based on logic and facts. No, we win on the facts and logic, which that troll ignored completely. The troll proves that the conservative mind is wrapped in tin-foil so thick it is immune to basic facts, common decency and the implicit rights of the Constitution.

movie poster for persona

movie poster for persona (1966). i would not consider persona a movie as much as cinematic art. it is not for everyone and those who don’t like art film are not clueless because they do not. bergman is frequently difficult to take. after he made persona he made cries and whispers, which may be, short of a documentary about genocide, one of the most depressing films ever made. the movie aside, i think this poster is a great example of 60s graphic art.

Territory I write about here frequently, probably too often for some, The Fall of the American Worker.

Scientists invent contact lenses that bestow telescopic vision. One has to wear the contacts and special glasses, but that might be worth the trouble for some people.


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.

when drugs do not work – the new brain stimulation, the immoral inquisitors are back

Glacier streams at Mt. Cook New Zealand

Glacier streams at Mt. Cook New Zealand.


Deep brain stimulation: a fix when the drugs don’t work

Artificial cardiac pacemakers are typically associated with controlling and resynchronising heartbeats by electrical stimulation of the heart muscle.

In a similar manner, DBS sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain that control discrete functions. This stimulation evokes control over the neural activity within these regions.

Prior to switching on the electrical stimulation, electrodes are surgically implanted within precise brain regions to control a specific function.

The neurosurgery is conducted under local anaesthetic to maintain consciousness in the patient. This ensures that the electrode does not damage critical brain regions.

The brain itself has no pain receptors so does not require anaesthetic.

…Drug therapy for Parkinson’s disease involves the use of levodopa (L-DOPA), a form of dopamine that can cross the blood brain barrier and then be synthesised into dopamine.

The administration of L-DOPA temporarily reduces the motor symptoms by increasing dopamine concentrations in the brain. However, side effects of this treatment include nausea and disordered movement.

DBS has been shown to provide relief from the motoric symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors.

For the treatment of Parkinson’s disease electrodes are implanted into regions of the basal ganglia – the subthalamic nucleus or globus pallidus, to restore control of movement.

I practically grew up on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Suddenly, Last Summer. So I have a built in anxiety about anyone messing around with the brain. While some level of wariness is reasonable when considering brain altering treatment, modern medicine seems to be leaving the nightmarish Nurse Ratcheds behind.

I’m posting this in it’s entirety so you’ll have the background, What’s Next For Kaitlyn Hunt, The Teen Charged With A Felony For Same-Sex Relationship With Classmate.

On Friday night, 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt and her family went public with their story: Kaitlyn was charged with a felony stemming from a relationship she had with a 15-year-old girl at her high school. The response in the 48-hours that followed, Kaitlyn’s father Steven Hunt told ThinkProgress in an interview, was “extraordinary.”

Already, nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Assistant State Attorney, Brian Workman, to drop the case. On Facebook, more than 13,000 people have joined a group — Free Kate — in support of the family.

Last week, her father said, Workman offered Kaitlyn a plea bargain. She could plead guilty to child abuse, a felony, and spend two years under house arrest. The judge would determine if she would have to register as a sex offender. They were given a deadline of May 24th to accept the offer or face trial.

Kaitlyn’s father suggests his daughters arrest — and the substantial sentence sought by the prosecutor — are motivated by anti-gay bias. He told ThinkProgress that the younger girl’s parents have told teachers at the high school that “their daughter will NOT be gay.”

So what’s next for Kaitlyn?

The family is hoping that public pressure will improve the offer from the State Attorney. Her father said Kaitlyn would be willing to plead to a misdemeanor, but not a felony. If the position of the State Attorney does not change, Kaitlyn and her family are prepared to go to trial.

The family’s attorney, Julia Graves, has assembled a table of experienced defense lawyers that will convene next week to discuss Kaitlyn’s legal options. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is scheduled to appear in court again on June 20. At that time, if a plea agreement is not reached, the judge could set a date for trial.

We dangerously close to returning to the worse of American historical traditions, with attitudes that resemble those of those Salem witch-hunters. Two teens having a relationships. Oh the horror. That has never happened before, someone must be punished. Criminal laws are supposed to be about protecting victims from abusive and violent behavior, negligence by individuals and corporations, not enforcing the twisted 17th century moral sensibilities of local inquisitors.

ww i sopwith camel, the tension between democracy and greed, the mini-rocket helicopter

Sopwith Camel in Flight

Sopwith F-1 Camel in Flight. World War I allied fighter plane. The Sopwith was introduced on the Western front during 1917. While it was difficult to learn to fly because of maneuverability issues, once a pilot got the hang of it, the Sopwith proved to be a very effective fighter plane. They were used by both the U.S. and Great Britain.

This is interesting reading. It runs counter to the way most economists teach economy and the way much of the media portrays the connection between capitalism and democracy. Whether one agrees with every word is not as important as understanding the tension that exists between those who see freedom almost solely in terms of pursuing money and those who see freedom as a more complex combination of pursuits, Democracy versus capitalism: take two

At this point two directions appeared open: continuation of a restricted freedom and limited representative governance of society; or a Marx inspired march towards socialism. The middle way of democracy was a hard fought for compromise. It was resisted by conservatives as a precursor to socialism. The tyranny of the masses, don’t forget, is what stopped democracy from being America’s early form of government, and the series of social upheavals rocking Europe from the 1780’s through to 1848 simply strengthened conservative opposition to any broadening of the right to vote and thus to anything remotely like modern democracy.

But the excesses of capitalism came to be too much. The hardship and exploitation embodied in early industrialization led to both the Trade Union movement and to other social changes. The right to vote became pivotal in the fight against those excesses.

In other words: the creation of modern democracy was a reaction to, and very much in opposition to, capitalism. It was, from the outset, designed to mitigate the excesses. It was not at all to foster freedom, but to limit it. This limitation coming in the paradoxical form of extending participation in government even to those without property. The very definition of freedom was thus amended. Freedom was now the right to vote regardless of property ownership, which was still protected, but which was now abridged.

I picked up the piece about half way through. The introduction, with a brief history and the conclusion put this part in perspective.

A one-man 100 lb helicopter,

A one-man 100 lb helicopter. The following is from a press release,

“A one-man 100 lb helicopter, powered by rockets in the tips of two small rotor blades, would be tested soon by the navy, it was announced to-day.
It is the nearest approach that has been made to [strapping] a pair of rockets upon the back of a man and shooting him into space “comic strip fashion,” said the designer (Mr. Gilbert Magill).

The liquid fuel rockets, he said, were controlled by a throttle. The rotors were fixed to a [steel] tube which supported fuel tanks and an open air pilot’s seat.”

Cairn’s Post, Wednesday 24 October 1951. There was also a feature article in Popular Science of January 1952. Other than that Magill and his rocket helicopter have been largely forgotten.