Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 29th, 2009

Roasting bacon is the berries

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Roasting bacon instead of sautéing it is great:

  1. You don’t have to watch it.
  2. You can cook a lot of strips at once.
  3. It comes out perfect.

I just roasted 11 strips: 400º F for 19 minutes. I line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, put a rack atop the foil, and lay the bacon strips across the rack. Better if they don’t touch each other: when they do, they stick together as they cook.

So now I have bacon for a salad for dinner and also for some kale I’m cooking. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

John Cole on the Permanent Republican Minority

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I would have called it the Dwindling Republican Minority, perhaps, but his post is excellent. Go read.

In another post, Cole quote Bradley Smith’s post:

Now that Specter’s gone, we can turn to the real enemy – Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe!  Then the only thing between us and victory will be Graham, Lugar, McCain, Murkowski, Grassley, Hatch, and some of the RINOs in the House.  And the Governors, like Crist and Douglas and Lingle and anyone not named Palin or Jindal.  And the Supreme Court Justices like the radical Kennedy.  But time is on our side.  If we get small enough, voters will finally see true conservatism, and then we’ll have to win.

Riiight.

Smith is not that far off the mark. Read this post.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Good argument against special prosecutor for torture

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Kevin Drum has an interesting post, quoting David Corn’s arguments against appointment of a special prosecutor. Go read.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 2:04 pm

Emotional cartography

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Very interesting—and from Mind Hacks, not Strange Maps:

We covered Christian Nold’s brilliant project to create emotion maps of cities before, and I had the pleasure of going to the launch of his new book on Emotional Cartography on Friday. It’s awesome for lots of reasons, but one of the best ones is that you can download it free from the project website.

Nold came up with the idea of fusing a GSR machine, a skin conductance monitor that measures arousal, and a GPS machine, to allow stress to be mapped to particular places. He then gets people to walk round and creates maps detailing high arousal areas of cities.

The biomapping website has some of the fantastic maps from the project.

His book, called Emotional Cartography: Technologies of the Self contains some of the wonderful maps images, but also chapters by artists, psychogeographers, designers, cultural researchers, futurologists and neuroscientists who examine the relationship between space and the self.

One of the chapters is written by our very own Tom Stafford who explores the neuroscience of the self through a case study of an amnesic patient from the scientific literature called SS, who seemed to be unaware of his own depression because of his profound memory problems. Tom also gave a great talk at the launch, which you can also read online.

If you want to read the books, and I highly recommend it, you can download the book as a screen quality or print quality PDF, and its released under a Creative Commons license so you can take it to your nearest copy shop if you want a hard copy.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Ecstatic seizures

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Interesting post at Mind Hacks:

A 2003 study in Epilepsy and Behavior has some descriptions of the ecstatic seizures experienced by some patients with epilepsy.

They include intense erotic and spiritual experiences, feelings of become close to and blending with other people, and some sensations that couldn’t be fully captured in words.

I’ve put some of the descriptions below because they sound absolutely wonderful:

Patient 1
The first seizure occurred during a concert when he was a teenager. He remembers perceiving short moments of an indefinable feeling. Such episodes recurred and a few months later evolved into a GTC [generalized tonic–clonic seizure]. He characterizes these sensations as “a trance of pleasure.” “It is like an emotional wave striking me again and again. I feel compelled to obey a sort of phenomenon. These sensations are outside the spectrum of what I ever have experienced outside a seizure.” He also describes cold shivering, increased muscle tension, and a delicious taste, and he swallows repeatedly. He enjoys the sensations and is absorbed in them in a way that he can barely hear when spoken to. When in a particular, relaxed mood, he can sometimes induce seizures by “opening up mentally” and contracting muscles. He denies any religious aspects of the symptoms. “It’s the phenomenon, the feeling, the fit taking control.” It lasts a few minutes and afterward he is tired with difficulties expressing himself for about 1 hour.

Patient 6
This man has a multifaceted symptomatology and a tendency to interpret bodily sensations as supernatural phenomena. Nevertheless, from the beginning of his forties, he experienced distinct, stereotypical attacks with a “change of concept of the surrounding world.” He reports an “oscillating erotic sensation, like twinkling polar light” in his pelvic region and down the inside of his thighs. This is described as different from sexual excitement, more like “an erogenous charge of the skin.” He may also have a clairvoyant feeling of a “telepathic contact with a divine power.” These sensations are of short duration and may be accompanied by faintness and followed by drowsiness. With carbamazepine treatment, the frequency of these attacks has been considerably reduced.

Patient 11
The attacks started in his first school year. The experiences are beyond what can be described in words. “I can sense the colours red and orange without seeing them. The feeling has an erotic aspect. It starts in the stomach and spreads upwards. It is pleasant, but not similar to ordinary joy. It is like an explosion.” In the close presence of another person, he can feel a sort of peculiar unification. An intense déjà vu sensation, a queer taste, and “gooseflesh” are also components of the seizures. As a child he was surprised that his friends denied having similar feelings, and he learned to keep them to himself. Sometimes these attacks evolved into CPSs with reduced consciousness and complex automatisms and afterward he had transient difficulties speaking. Before the diagnosis of epilepsy was made in his late teens, he was referred to a psychiatrist. A right-sided temporal lobe calcification was diagnosed by computed tomography at about 30 years, but he refused surgery. At 42, an expansion in the same region was found by MRI, and he was operated for an anaplastic oligodendroglioma. He was seizure-free for 6 years until recurrence of the tumor.

One of the striking things about epilepsy is how different each person’s experience of having a seizure can be.

While it is stereotypically assumed to be a negative experience, some aspects can be remarkably beautiful.

The Russian author Dostoyevsky famously said of his epilepsy "I would experience such joy as would be inconceivable in ordinary life – such joy that no one else could have any notion of. I would feel the most complete harmony in myself and in the whole world and this feeling was so strong and sweet that for a few seconds of such bliss I would give ten or more years of my life, even my whole life perhaps."

There are several more case descriptions in the article, all of which have some aspect which touch at least the edge of ecstasy, if not the very heart of the experience.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Shell shock revisited

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Mind Hacks:

New Scientist covers the debate on the causes of the non-specific emotional and cognitive symptoms that are appearing at an alarming rate in US soldiers who have been caught up in blasts while on service.

The controversy centres on whether the symptoms of ‘post concussional syndrome’ (which can include depression, irritability, concentration difficulties, headaches and reduced memory function) are caused by damage to the brain from shock waves of the explosion, or are largely triggered by an emotional reaction to the stress of war.

It’s an interesting debate, not least because it’s almost 100 years since almost exactly the same debate raged over shell shock.

This is from an excellent article by medical historian Edgar Jones and colleagues who discuss the similarities between the ‘shell shock’ debates, and the current controversy:

Frederick Mott, then Britain’s leading neuropathologist, who was recruited by the War Office to discover the etiology of the disorder, argued that in extreme cases shell shock could be fatal if intense commotion affected "the delicate colloidal structures of the living tissues of the brain and spinal cord," arresting "the functions of the vital centers in the medulla". It was also speculated that the disorder resulted from damage to the CNS from carbon monoxide released by the partial detonation of a shell or mortar. In other words, shell shock was formulated as an organic problem even though the pathology remained unclear.

However, research conducted in 1915 and 1916 by Myers, consultant psychologist to the British Expeditionary Force, led to a new hypothesis. Based on his own observations, an increasing appreciation of the stress of trench warfare, and the finding that many shell-shocked soldiers had been nowhere near an explosion but had identical symptoms to those who had, Myers suggested a psychological explanation. For these cases, the term "emotional," rather than "commotional," shock was proposed. The psychological explanation gained ground over the neurological in part because it offered the British Army an opportunity to return shell-shocked soldiers to active duty.

As mentioned by the NewSci two big studies have recently found strikingly similar results: many soldier who have the symptoms of ‘post concussional syndrome’ were never actually in an explosion.

Extreme stress and trauma, of whatever type, seems to predict the likelihood of someone having the symptoms better than actually being caught up in an explosion.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 1:58 pm

The GOP lives in its own reality

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I wonder whether the GOP will simply cease to exist as a political party and be replaced by some other conservative party—one that is in touch with reality.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2009 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

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