January 15th, 2004

Semiformalishmaybe

Smoking Trees

This is another of those days where I wake up with a bad headache..I'm now pretty certain that it's diet-related -- last night, I had aLOT of pizza, and often when I get these, I have a very large andunusual meal right before I went to bed (e.g. had lots of rice+olive oil+paneer)So, if I'm right, maybe I have a way of avoiding these blasted morningheadaches.

Last night, in my cognitive science research methods book, I was browsingthe section on ethics, and it's interesting how medical ethics often tackson 'not harming the reputation of the field' as part of the values being pushed.It is an interesting shift in perspective that I really will need to get usedto.. in some ways, it reminds me of the 'not embarassing the family' lectureI got so often when I was young. Another interesting case they brought up inthat chapter was a study where they hooked electrodes to a specimen, explainingto them that they were measuring sexual arousal, and showed the specimenpictures of males and females. The meter was actually controlled by theexperimenter, and the results of making specimens think they have latenthomosexual tendencies were being studied. This, the book suggests, is widelythought to be unethical, even with debriefing afterwards, causing seriouspsychological harm. I'm not really sure what I think.. if it is granted thatserious psychological harm is caused, then I wonder about a hypothetical wheresexual arousal is being measured, and people who have no idea about thesethings are still shown the pictures and end up having 'latent homosexual urges'made visible to them. It's the same harm.. is the fact that it was intrinsicto them mitigating? Speaking of concepts like mitigation, are medical ethicsin practice laid out like law? Or do IRBs and other parts of the infrastructureto advance this stuff weigh it all on the surface level? I think that it isstructured to be a bit more proactive -- the science/medical community sufferswhen members of it breach the code of ethics (or so the theory goes), whilethe legal community doesn't suffer when random citizens break the law.. soin practice, experiments typically need to be approved before they're carriedout. At least, that's the impression that I get from this book, the trainingI had to do for work, and classes so far. Another interesting tidbit --apparently, E. Velten designed a method to induce temporary depressionin subjects. I find this fascinating.

There was a competition to produce 30-second adverts to get BushJr outof office. The official site will let you see them,but it puts them in the middle of frames, and doesn't provide an easy way tolet you download them. On the web, I'm a kleptomaniac, and I'll help yoube one too. Here's easier links to download the 4 featured videos.Child's PayIf Parents Acted Like BushWhat I have been up to..Bring it On

If you want any of the other videos, figure out how to grab 'em yourself :)

This is an interesting story -- apparently in L.A., they want tomake it illegal for people to wear things that make it harder for the policeto arrest them. The place I saw the story originally had a user commentpointing to this sticker. It is, nontheless, a bit more tricky a problemthan that. I've been to riots, and generally neither the police nor therioters, in the ones I've seen, act very well. Property gets destroyed,roads get closed, and all sorts of fun stuff. I think there are better waysto make a political point (like surrounding government buildings, sit-insin them, and dogging the people doing things worth protesting). There may betimes when riots in the streets are the only option for a mass of people toprotest the government (WTO meetings?), but they're severely overused. Losinga football game is not a reason to riot. I guess that's a digression from theissue at hand. Anyhow, chew on it -- I'm not going to weigh in on this onefor now.

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to visit the mars mission page.There's another recent scientific advance that'll change the future ofhumanity here.

There's been a lot of not-well-publicized nervousness on the topic ofKurdistan and Iraq recently. The Kurds, since after the first Americaninvasion of Iraq, have had a large northern slice of Iraq for their ownbusiness, giving them a de facto state. As Iraq is being .. well, theoreticallyreconstructed, the question of what to do with the area is again open, andas I've noted before, all the countries that have land overlapping with thekurdish desired homeland have made very clear statements that they will notaccept a recognized kurdish state. Iraq is making moves that suggest thatnorthern Iraq will be a 'region' of Iraq that will have some moderate amountof self-determination. The Kurds are probably not too thrilled. One thing I dofind interesting about Islam -- it is a faith that, by the texts, is moreclearly for racial unity than Christianity... I find myself wondering if there'ssome tension between race-national tendencies in Kurds and the Kurdish flavourof Islam. There has been a call by antinationalist elements in Islam for thereinstatement of the Caliphate, and a single Islamic state stretching fromIran to Egypt to Turkey. Of course, these movements are labeled terrorist,but what Islamic state wouldn't label them as such when they're such a threatto their status quo... Do the Kurds want their nation for the traditionalreasons (in contrast to Islamic values), because Iraq and Turkey are moresecular and they're more religious, because Islamic states where they livehaven't done a good job of adhering to the antiracist creed, or am I missingsomething?

Some weird fun.