I didn’t have a chance to look at last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine then, so I’m just catching up now on this special issue on The Year in Ideas. There are around a hundred of them. Warning: doing justice by this issue could take you a considerable chunk of time.
US Infant Homicide Rates Doubled from 1970-2000: ‘The rate of infant homicides in the US has more than doubled over the last 30 years, according to a new report by Child Trends, a not-for-profit research organization in Washington, DC.
“Although tragic, the numbers of children who die each year from infant homicide do not indicate that a huge social epidemic is taking place. Nonetheless, the data offer important information that may be useful in trying to reduce the numbers of infants who are victims of homicide each year,” said Brett Brown, director of social research for the organization and a project director of Child Trends DataBank.
Brown explained that, most likely, two factors play a role in the increase in the number of infant homicides. For one, more babies are being born to unwed teens, who are known to be at highest risk for infant homicide, Brown told Reuters Health in an interview.
Secondly, the reporting of infant homicides has become more accurate over the last 30 years, Brown pointed out.’ Yahoo! News
‘Today brings with it some potentially ugly news for Yahoo and Microsoft. America Online has secured a patent for Internet instant messaging services. Filed in September of this year, the patent grants broad ownership rights to the technology, which is used by millions of people to chat quickly and cheaply across the Internet. The implications of this are, of course, legion. “The claim is it’s a system where you have a network; you have a way to monitor who’s on the network,” Gregory Aharonian, publisher of the Internet Patent News Service, told News.com. “If you’re doing something like that, you’re potentially infringing.” ‘ siliconvalley.com
“our favorite geek gifts to give and get this year.” Scientific American
Child Bookworms? Are you struggling to get your video-game-playing kids to read more? New York University suggests these strategies… [more] HealthScout News
The Return of the Repressed: The Strange Case of Masud Khan
In February 2001 the psychoanalytic world was shaken by a London Review of Books article by Wynne Godley [which I sent around to every colleague I could think of FmH], visiting scholar at Bard Colleges Levi Economics Institute, professor emeritus of applied economics at Cambridge University, and onetime member of H.M. Treasury Panel of Independent Forecasters (the so-called Six Wise Men). Saving Masud Khan tells the story of Godleys lengthy psychoanalysis with Mohammed Masud Raza Khan, the charismatic Anglo-Pakistani whoit was recently revealedslept with and abused many of his patients. In Godleys telling, he was essentially tortured by Khan from beginning to end. It was a long and fruitless battle culminating in a spiral of degradation.
(…)The professional reaction to Godleys revelations has been swift and defensive. While it is no secret that equally serious violations of the professional boundary between analyst and patient plague analysis today, there remains the damning fact in his case that many of Khans contemporariesthe venerable Winnicott includedknew of his infractions at the time he was committing them but did nothing. This is like a return to the days of Freud and the earliest psychoanalytic pioneers. Everything is being criticized and re-evaluated here, everything is up for grabs, says Gregorio Kohon, an animated Argentine émigré and senior member of Londons Institute of Psycho-Analysis who studied with Khan in the early 1970s. Every family has secrets. And what we are witnessing in the family of psychoanalysis is nothing less than the return of the repressed. Kohon suggests that the present purging of the tradition may be the first steps of a return to the original promise of psychoanalysis. Boston Review
The Intolerability of Freedom? Don’t Set the People Free: “Theodore Dalrymple says that many poor souls need institutions, but the ideologues and cost-cutters insist on giving them autonomy…
Spare a thought, then, for those poor souls this Christmas who will try desperately to insinuate themselves into hospital, in order that they should not be alone during the festive period; upon whom our society places a burden that they cannot bear, for lack of real charity and in the name of a crude ideology. Our giant apparatus of welfare, to which we devote an ever increasing proportion of our income, is to adapt, slightly, a well-known phrase from an official report institutionalised callousness.” Spectator
Related (?) ‘The Rehab Don’t Work‘: Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, my favorite medical iconoclast from the UK, reflects:
The key shift signalled by the promotion of ‘detox and rehab’ is away from a ‘law and order’ approach to the drug problem towards a new therapeutic strategy, emphasising education, treatment and support. (It is not surprising that Keith Hellawell, the drug tsar, had to go: New Labour’s crusade against drugs needs a social worker or a counsellor, not a policeman, as its symbolic head.) ‘Detox and rehab’ now go together like ‘rum and coke’, but what do they mean?
(…) ‘Many people who oppose the ‘war on drugs’ say that the ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ is ‘treatment’. This is baloney. Addiction treatment is a scam.’ (11)
The phrase ‘treatment works’ is repeated like a mantra in the government’s ‘Updated Drug Strategy’. Everybody in the world of drug policy is desperate to believe that it is true. Indeed it is supported by evidence from research that is either carried out directly by government agencies (such as the National Treatment Outcomes Research Study) or commissioned by them. But are such studies reliable? Here the British authorities might learn from the (vast) experience of the USA in this field.
Research on the efficacy of treatment programmes for problems of addiction in the USA follows a now-familiar pattern. This begins when promoters of a new scheme or programme claim dramatic successes (often accompanied by media and celebrity endorsements). Early studies, often influenced by the enthusiasm of the promoters and the zeal of those they have cured, tend to confirm impressive results. Later, when the publicity had died down and independent researchers take a more dispassionate view of the outcomes of treatment over a longer period, the extravagant claims cannot be sustained. sp!ked
“A substantial chunk of that collection is on view at the Metropolitan Museum in a show titled “The Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Painting From the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection.” It’s installed in the museum’s Japanese galleries, and it’s wonderful.
Calligraphy has long been the most revered of art forms in China, and in the sixth century A.D. Chinese Buddhist monks carrying sacred books called sutras brought it to Japan. Eager to have their own copies of sutras, the Japanese learned Chinese and adopted its script as their own, engendering a love of the written word — the word as an expressive, information-rich image — that continues today.
The show is really about that love. It begins with a copy of an eighth-century sutra taken directly from Chinese prototypes. Clarity and accuracy were its primary goals, and its script is as crisp and regular as a printed typeface. But already a subtle sensuousity graces the calligraphic endeavor: the writing paper in this case is impregnated with specks of aromatic wood.” NY Times
And so the Shortest Day came and the Year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of that snow white world
To drive the Dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees
They hung their homes with evergreens
They burned beseeching fires, all night long
To keep the Year alive
And when the new Year’s sunshine blazed awake, they shouted
Through all the frosty ages, you can hear them
Echoing behind us.
All the long echos sing the same delight
this Shortest Day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land
They carol, feast, give thanks, and dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now
This year and every year: Welcome Yule!
All: Welcome Yule!
— Susan Cooper, “The Shortest Day”
A POX On You: A tiny galaxy is born: “New detailed images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show a “late-blooming” galaxy, a small, distorted system of gas and stars that still appears to be in the process of development, even though most of its galactic cousins are believed to have started forming billions of years ago. Evidence of the galaxy’s youthfulness can be seen in the burst of newborn stars and its disturbed shape. This evidence indicates that the galaxy, called POX 186, formed when two smaller clumps of gas and stars collided less than 100 million years ago (a relatively recent event in the universe’s 13-billion-year history), triggering more star formation. Most large galaxies, such as our Milky Way, are thought to have formed the bulk of their stars billions of years ago.” STScI
Responding to Sen. Trent Lott’s recent comments, Rep. Cass Ballenger told a newspaper he has had “segregationist feelings” himself after conflicts with a black colleague. Friday morning, he went on local radio to say it was a stupid comment to make.
Ballenger, a North Carolina Republican, had said in Friday’s Charlotte Observer that former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., so provoked him that “I must admit I had segregationist feelings.”
“If I had to listen to her, I probably would have developed a little bit of a segregationist feeling,” Ballenger told the Observer. “But I think everybody can look at my life and what I’ve done and say that’s not true.
“I mean, she was such a bitch,” he said. Associated Press [via Salon]
Life after: “Bill Frist, the likely new Senate majority leader, is hailed as a moderate, but he’s an antiabortion hard-liner who votes much like Trent Lott.” —Michelle Goldberg in Salon
“Few senators have a worse voting record on civil rights than Trent Lott — but Bill Frist is one of them,” the National Organization for Women’s Kim Gandy said in a press release. “Frist has voted against sex education, international family planning, emergency contraception (the morning-after pill), affirmative action, hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This is the man who is supposed to save face for the GOP in the Senate? Think again.”
Also: Leadership in Recapturing Senate Pushed Frist Into Spotlight: “Until 1989, Bill Frist had never voted. Until Thursday, he had expressed no interest in being Senate majority leader. Now he will lead the United States Senate.” NY Times
And: a broader warning from Paul Krugman: Gotta Have Faith:
I’d like to think that the furor over Trent Lott’s nostalgia for Jim Crow, hidden in plain sight for years, would serve as a signal to ask about other uncomfortable truths hidden in plain sight. But I suspect that it won’t, that we’ll soon go back to worrying about politicians’ haircuts.
And then, years from now, when it becomes clear that much public policy has been driven by a hard-line fundamentalist agenda, people will say, “But nobody told us.” NY Times