Just Say No W

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“Subtle but effective, these 3″ diameter weatherproof stickers will get your message across. Designed to hold up for at least three years, this may be the last anti-Bush bumper sticker you will ever need!”


The lump in the White House thinks he writes poetry. Worse yet, his wife thinks he does.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Oh my, lump in the bed

How I’ve missed you.

Roses are redder

Bluer am I

Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.

The dogs and the cat, they missed you too

Barney’s still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe

The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier

Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

Now it makes sense why she cancelled a White House poetry event because she was afraid the invited poets might have had something offensive to say.


Earth to Wesley, Earth to Wesley…

Faith in FTL:

“‘I still believe in e=mc², but I can’t believe that in all of human history, we’ll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go,’ said Clark. ‘I happen to believe that mankind can do it.

‘I’ve argued with physicists about it, I’ve argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It’s my only faith-based initiative.'” —Wired

Should we have concerns about Clark’s willingness to submit to the rule of law if he becomes president. since he clearly has little reverence for the laws of physics?



art brut : self taught outsider and folk art: ‘art brut connaissance & diffusion was created in 1999. It is a French foundation with international scope, whose main objective is to research, study and make known Art Brut by means of exhibitions, publications and audio visual productions.

Our founding members are art historians, psychoanalysts, writers, collectors but also amateurs with strong interest in Art Brut. The diversity of our members contributes to the original crossing of different points of view.

Jean Dubuffet:

“Art Brut designates works executed by persons unharmed by artistic culture, in which mimesis, in contrast to what happens in the case of intellectuals, has little or no part at all. Consequently, the authors draw their inspiration (themes, materials, the means of transposition, rhythm, different styles of writing, etc.) from their resources and not from the clichés of classical or fashionable art.”

I am gratified to see this group cite Dubuffet and his 1945 definition of ‘outsider art’ as a defining influence. The art brut movement seems to have forsaken him recently to the extent that several listings of exhibits fail to mention the imposing Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne which evolved from Dubuffet’s personal holdings.


Doctors ‘failing manic depressives’

People with manic depression are being urged to demand better medical care: “The Manic Depression Fellowship says many doctors fail to provide patients with enough information or choice over which drugs they take.

It says this can cause people to stop taking their medication, increasing their risk of committing suicide.

The charity has now published a document outlining the different treatments available so they can demand a better standard of care.

Manic depression or bipolar disorder affects around two in every 100 people in the UK.

However, that figure is beginning to rise as more and more people are being diagnosed with the condition.” —BBC News

Several factors other than doctors’ failure to adequately inform their patients may contribute to patients’ failure to follow through with treatment for manic depressive disorder, better known these days in the US as bipolar disorder. There has been a drastic increase in the number of patients diagnosed with this condition for several reasons — a new gospel in child psychiatry asserting unconvincingly that mood and behavior instability problems in children and adolsecents that look nothing like bipolar moodswings are a form of bipolar illness; the reluctance in adult psychiatry, for reasons largely of political correctness, to diagnose people with a prevalent cause of mood instability, borderline personality disorder; and the growing carelessness in diagnosis — diagnosis by gut feeling — overall, whereby schizophrenic patients who show some superimposed moodswings are called bipolar instead.

Lithium carbonate, once the mainstay of prevention of moodswings in manic depressives and thought effective for around two-thirds of patients, has suffered a decling reputation as recent research suggests lower success rates. In my impression, this is related to the point I made above about the imprecision of diagnosis. As the category of bipolar illness broadens, research studies will be lumping in a variety of other types of pathology with ‘classical’ bipolar disease, and this will dilute out evidence of efficacy with the core syndrome. This has resulted in a general shift to the use of anticonvulsant (anti-epileptic) drugs, which also have mood-stabilizing properties and of which there is a bewildering and ever-growing variety. These medications may have lesser effectiveness — certainly some of them do — but they are expensive proprietary products of pharmaceutical manufacturers and aggressively marketed to psychiatrists. (Lest you think that psychiatric marketing is mostly carried out by salesmen visiting doctors’ offices, it is much more a matter today of the industry funding most of the psychopharmacological research which makes it to the journals, and much of the continuing medical education offerings at conferences and in various media which psychiatrists consume and which are the main shapers of their practice patterns after they are out of their training.)

In contrast, lithium carbonate is a dirt-cheap generic drug; self-paying for your prescription for lithium will probably cost you less than the co-pay if you got it with your insurance plan.

Another important barrier to treatment of bipolar disorder comes from the nature of the disease itself. While not always the case, it is often true that patients when manic are artificially happy, energetic, confident and blissfully unaware that they are in the midst of an episode of an illness even as they alienate friends and spouses, lose their jobs, drain their bank accounts and develop sundry other legal and financial problems with their impaired judgment. They almost never seek help voluntarily while manic but are brought in against their will by family or authorities because of the trouble they are in, and thus are resistant to treatment. Euphoric mania is virtually unique as a psychiatric illness in that its sufferers feel happy and cannot recognize that they are in trouble and distress (making for an interesting philosophical question of whether they should be treated…). Because the disease is so episodic, they will eventually return to a happy medium, so to speak, with intact judgment and recognition of the need for care.

But there is peril at the other extreme as well; there is often a temptation when they are in the depressed phase to stop their preventative medication on the mistaken belief that getting manic again would be an attractive alternative to the pain. This is a repetitive scenario I see time and again with bipolar patients with otherwise sophisticated understanding and sound judgment, who often have several go-arounds of this devastating disease before they ‘learn their lesson’ and remain on their medications. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that some psychiatrists are leery of giving depressed bipolar patients antidepressant medication, fearing that it might induce mania; this prolongs their misery.

Finally, there is another basis for patient resistance to accepting treatment. The corollary of accepting that you have bipolar disease is never being able to trust your emotions at face value. While normal people have moodswings in the natural course of day-to-day living, once someone has become known to have a bipolar process all mood variability becomes suspect as a harbinger of a fullblown episode. It becomes difficult for the patient and those around her/him to avoid pathologizing all emotional swings. This often sullies the person’s ability to have ‘normal happiness’, in effect, without thinking that instead of something good it is a warning sign of an illness. In essence, bipolar disease is potentially a betrayal of one’s relationship with one’s own emotions. One learns, in a sense, that to trust being happy — which the bipolar patient desperately wants to be able to do — one has to ignore or deny that s/he is bipolar. This becomes a strong impetus for the patient to reject treatment in an effort to make happiness possible and acceptable again.

There are other twists and turns in the skillful treatment of this complicated condition. (I hope I’ve suggested effectively that, even for the psychopharmacology of a ‘biological’ illness, the caregiver must have the ability to create an alliance, understand the dynamics of the patient, and help him/her introspect. This is my style of medication prescribing — inextricably linked with a very psychotherapeutic relationship with my patients. None of this “wham-bam-thank you ma’am, how ya doin’? write your prescription and out ya go” style of psychopharmacological followup that is so common in modern office psychiatry…) Suffice it to say that getting inadequate information about drug choices from your prescriber is just the tip of the iceberg as a contributor to a patient’s not following through with potentially stabilizing treatment for bipolar disorder. It is an urgent issue, both because of the devastating morbidity and, indeed, mortality associated with out-of-control bipolar disease, and because the illness is usually so treatable and the restitution of function between episodes usually so complete that it is especially poignant and frustrating when patients with this illness, among the panoply of psychiatric disease, will not stay engaged.


Lifeline for Those Who Need One

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college-age Americans, with 1,000 students expected to commit suicide this year, health officials say. With demands for mental health services on campus at record highs and students more wired than ever, school officials now say online support could save those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

They have turned to the Satows’ new website, Ulifeline, to reassure the ‘worried well’ — the healthy students who needlessly crowd school counseling centers — and to gently nudge those who truly need help to seek it. Since its debut last year, 72 colleges and universities have subscribed to the free service, noting that it centralizes help and information far better than their own sites do. So far, 1.3 million students have used it.” —Wired News


A near-record Ozone hole in 2003

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Atmospheric ozone depletion vies with record late-’90s’ severity: “As expected, the ozone hole near Earth’s South Pole is back again this year. This year’s hole, being slightly larger than North America, is larger than last year but short of the record set on 2000 September 10. Ozone is important because it shields us from damaging ultraviolet sunlight. Ozone is vulnerable, though, to CFCs and halons being released into the atmosphere. International efforts to reduce the use of these damaging chemicals appear to be having a positive effect on their atmospheric abundance. The relatively large size of the ozone hole this year, however, is attributed partly to colder than normal air in the surrounding stratosphere.” —Astronomy Picture of the Day


2003 Rock Paper Scissors International Championships

I have previously written about The World Rock Paper

Scissors Society
. Now comes word of the upcoming 2003 Rock Paper Scissors International

World Championships taking place on October 25th. They have a new Championship specific site. The organizers are expecting about 1000 of the World’s best players competing

this year and have athletes registered from the UK, 6 US States and Canada. Winner will receive $5000.00 (CDN) and will be able

to claim the title of RPS Champion of the World (2nd place $1500.00, 3rd

$500). Video clips in Quicktime format are available at the site.

All players note: “Legion of the White Fist” of Toronto, Canada has requested a team name change to “Legion of the Red Fist”. Please update your strategies accordingly.