Month: September 2018

How to become a Trump judge

Retired Federal judge Nancy Gertner writes:

‘Kavanaugh’s performance at that hearing alone should be disqualifying. His behavior and affect, the pointed and partisan nature of his accusations, resonated with this President’s incivility and name calling. He was consumed with rage at his Democrat interlocutors, fairly spitting out his answers. He treated them with disrespect, interrupting, repeating his talking points rather than answering question. When Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked him if he would call for an FBI investigation, to make the process more fair, he did not answer. He showed himself to be a zealot determined to get on the high court, at all costs.

With this performance, Kavanaugh became Trump’s version of what a judge should be, not unlike Trump’s version of what his attorney general should be. They were both supposed to be Trump partisans, not neutrals, and above all, ready for central casting. Trump reportedly was unhappy with Kavanaugh’s performance on “Fox News” several evenings before; Kavanaugh was “wooden,” he said, insufficiently assertive. So Kavanaugh changed his tune. Now, fully a Trump judge, he was playing to his base — President Trump. And it worked. Trump tweeted minutes after the hearing completed: ”Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him.”

I had never heard a judge speak like that to a public audience, let alone during a confirmation hearing.

A judge is not only supposed to be unbiased, he is also to reflect the appearance of impartiality, avoiding situations in which reasonable people can believe he is partisan. How can Kavanaugh possibly meet that requirement given what we all saw on Thursday?

Consider this: Kavanaugh is confirmed is immediately sworn in by Justice John Roberts in the chambers of the Supreme Court. And on the docket is a challenge to gerrymandering brought by Democrats in one state; or another involving accusations of voter suppression against Republicans in a swing state. What about the cases that directly challenge presidential power, like the enforceability of a subpoena brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against Trump in the Russia investigation? How can he even appear remotely impartial in these cases when his presentation so fully and completely reflected the Republican party’s rage? He cannot. He is not.

Kavanaugh will not get his reputation back whether or not he is confirmed. These accusations, that performance, scotched all such hopes. But if he cared about the Supreme Court as an institution, he would withdraw now. Of course he will not; he wants this position, no matter what the cost, so stunning is his ambition. His body of work has been the functional equivalent of a 20-year application. He was a zealot in the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton, and then, when it suited him to be more neutral, wrote a law review article changing his tune; no president should be subject to the treatment, the very treatment he visited on Clinton. Serious issues were raised with respect to his truthfulness in his confirmation hearings concerning his role in the Bush administration.

He categorically denied Ford’s accusations again — even when he and others confirm at least part of it. He was the thinly-disguised Bart O’Kavanaugh in Mark Judge’s book, “Wasted,’’ passed out in a car. He joined a Yale fraternity famous for its wild drunken parties. At Yale Law School, my alma mater, he touted the all night parties, broken tables, etc. most recently in a 2014 speech. It was not such a leap to Ford’s account of drunken adolescents preying on a younger woman …’

Source: The Boston Globe

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Severe Trauma And Giving Up on Life

Sleep sad depressed Woman large bigstock’New research shows that people can die simply because they’ve given up, believing life has beaten them and they feel defeat is inescapable…

It usually follows a trauma from which a person thinks there is no escape, making death seem like the only rational outcome, explains Dr. John Leach, a senior research fellow at the University of Portsmouth.

“Psychogenic death is real,” he said. “It isn’t suicide, it isn’t linked to depression, but the act of giving up on life and dying, usually within days, is a very real condition often linked to severe trauma.”

In the study, he describes the five stages leading to progressive psychological decline.…’

Via Psych Central

The study describes the psychological stages of such giving up but does not suggest the mechanism by which it brings about death. Others have talked about, literally, dying of a broken heart. At least some cases involve what is referred to medically as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy.

Relative evasiveness of Kavanaugh and Ford visualized

Respectfully hearing from both sides’Kavanaugh didn’t just DARVO his way through yesterday’s hearing: his bluster, tears, rage, and blame-shifting also allowed him to dodge a remarkable number of questions raised by the senators.

Ford, by contrast, answered virtually every question put to her.…’

Via Boing Boing

Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh Donates $10,000 to Christine Blasey Ford

5600172ae’Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh contributed $10,000 to a GoFundMe campaign benefitting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her family. A representative for Lesh confirmed to Rolling Stone that the bassist did make the donation, though Lesh declined to provide further comment. Lesh ostensibly made his donation last Sunday, September 23rd, though it wasn’t until Thursday – the day Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary committee about the time Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her – that several websites spotted the contribution

The GoFundMe campaign for Ford and her family is no longer accepting donations after raising $528,315. A note on the page reads, “A statement of gratitude from the family will be forthcoming in the next 48 hours with a fuller explanation, but in the meantime, do keep your comments coming. I am sharing them with her.”…’

Via Rolling Stone

R.I.P. Marty Balin

 

Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Dead at 76

GettyImages 115857280’Jefferson Airplane vocalist-guitarist Marty Balin, who co-founded the San Francisco psychedelic rock band in 1965 and played a crucial role in the creation of all their 1960s albums, including Surrealistic Pillow and Volunteers, died Thursday at the age of 76. Balin’s rep confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone, though the cause of death is currently unknown. “RIP Marty Balin, fellow bandmate and music traveler passed last night,” Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady said in a statement. “A great songwriter and singer who loved life and music. We shared some wonderful times together. We will all miss you!!!!”…’

Via Rolling Stone

 

First Paul Kantner, then Marty Balin, gone on to a better place from one of the all-time greatest soaring psychedelic rock bands ever. (And, Marty, you are fully forgiven for Starship.) Playing some Airplane LOUD now.

How to Impeach a Supreme Court Justice

Hpxyo34y3kzvxcndzfrz’Impeachment isn’t just for presidents. The Constitution allows other officials to be impeached, including Supreme Court justices. No justice of that court has been successfully removed through impeachment—yet.

The process has the same two steps as for presidents. The House of Representatives can vote, with a simple majority, to impeach a justice or other federal official. Then the Senate holds proceedings similar to a trial, then votes on whether to convict. If two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict, the justice is removed from office.…’

Via Lifehacker

Study Suggests ‘Dark Core’ Underlies Malign Character Traits

The quotdark corequot of humanity Studies show that psychopaths narcissists sadists and others share a common personality factor

’A new Danish-German study suggests that all malevolent aspects of the human personality, including narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, spitefulness and others, appear to share a common “dark core” and are essentially just flavored manifestations of a single common underlying disposition: extreme selfishness.

According to the theory, if you have a tendency to show one dark personality trait, you are more likely to display others.

The common denominator of these traits, known as the dark core factor or “D-factor,” can be defined as the general tendency to maximize one’s own benefit over the benefit of others. This often includes creating justifications for one’s own hurtful actions and thus avoiding any feelings of guilt, regret or shame; or disregarding, accepting, or even malevolently provoking disadvantage for others.

In the journal Psychological Review, researchers Dr. Ingo Zettler, Professor of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen, and two German colleagues, Drs. Morten Moshagen from Ulm University and Benjamin E. Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau, demonstrate how the D-factor is present in nine of the most commonly studied dark personality traits:

  • Egoism: an excessive preoccupation with one’s own advantage at the expense of others and the community;
  • Machiavellianism: a manipulative, callous attitude and a belief that the ends justify the means;
  • Moral disengagement: cognitive processing style that allows behaving unethically without feeling distress;
  • Narcissism: excessive self-absorption, a sense of superiority, and an extreme need for attention from others;
  • Psychological entitlement: a recurring belief that one is better than others and deserves better treatment;
  • Psychopathy: lack of empathy and self-control, combined with impulsive behavior;
  • Sadism: a desire to inflict mental or physical harm on others for one’s own pleasure or to benefit oneself;
  • Self-interest: a desire to further and highlight one’s own social and financial status;
  • Spitefulness: destructiveness and willingness to cause harm to others, even if one harms oneself in the process.…’

Via Psych Central

Has one of math’s greatest mysteries, the Riemann hypothesis, finally been solved?

File 20180323 54878 15xsrf7’Over the past few days, the mathematics world has been abuzz over the news that Sir Michael Atiyah, the famous Fields Medalist and Abel Prize winner, claims to have solved the Riemann hypothesis.

If his proof turns out to be correct, this would be one of the most important mathematical achievements in many years. In fact, this would be one of the biggest results in mathematics, comparable to the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem from 1994 and the proof of the Poincare Conjecture from 2002.

Besides being one of the great unsolved problems in mathematics and therefore garnishing glory for the person who solves it, the Riemann hypothesis is one of the Clay Mathematics Institute’s “Million Dollar Problems.” A solution would certainly yield a pretty profitable haul: one million dollars.…’

Via The Conversation

DRC Ebola outbreak: WHO warns of “perfect storm”

GettyImages 696530764 0 0’The fight against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing a “perfect storm” that could help an outbreak spin out of control, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.

The storm’s main ingredient: insecurity brought on by war. The outbreak response is based in North Kivu, a conflict zone that borders Rwanda and Uganda. More than a million people are displaced there, and armed opposition groups have been carrying out deadly attacks on civilians. The conflict even forced the WHO to halt its response in one epicenter for a week.…’

Via Vox

How would we fare encountering alien music?

9061cfb72867ec5a40fbcd962e3c33829a5674e7 103488 540 85’What might alien music sound like? Would it be structured hierarchically as our music is with verses and a chorus? Would we even be able to appreciate it? Vincent Cheung, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, thinks the answer would be yes, assuming it was predicated on local and non-local dependencies. His research published this week in Scientific Reports explains what exactly that means.…’

Via Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

Our Shared Reality is Fraying

15359186256062812027’The concept of truth is under assault, but our troubles with truth aren’t exactly new.

What’s different is that in the past, debates about the status of truth primarily took place in intellectual cafes and academic symposia among philosophers. These days, uncertainty about what to believe is endemic – a pervasive feature of everyday life for everyday people.

“Truth isn’t truth” – Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, famously said in August. His statement wasn’t as paradoxical as it might have appeared. It means that our beliefs, what we hold as true, are ultimately unprovable, rather than objectively verifiable.…’

Shared reality neurosciencenewsVia Neuroscience News

X-Files-Real-Life Dept.

ImageMysterious Evacuation Of Solar Observatory Overlooking White Sands Smells Like Espionage:

’A bizarre, unexplained situation has unfolded in and around the tiny enclave of Sunspot, New Mexico. A week after U.S. federal government officials ordered the evacuation of the National Solar Observatory facility there, as well as a nearby post office, the first site remains closed due to a “security issue” and no one can or will say what it is.

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and potentially other federal government agencies, arrived in Sunspot on or about Sept. 7, 2018, at which point they ordered everyone out of the National Solar Observatory site, which is technically at Sacramento Peak, situated above the tiny town. They also told the clerk in the Sunsport Post Office to evacuate.…’

Via The Drive (thanks, abby!)

Nearly 30% of opioid prescriptions lack valid medical justification

Opioids unsplash

’…new research shows that doctors failed to list a
good reason for why they prescribed opioids in nearly a third of cases over a 10-year period.…’

Via Big Think

Much of medical prescribing is irresponsible, unprincipled and knee-jerk. Opioid prescribing in the face of the opioid crisis is the prime example. 

WH Staffers Reportedly Told Psychiatrist Trump Was ‘Unraveling’

Omirmkrisciilkr32f99’It’s easy for casual observers to watch President Donald Trump stumble over words, stop mid-thought to wave at passing boats, ramble about “snakes everywhere” and to conclude to themselves that yes, this guy is definitely losing it. That said, it’s something altogether different when the people who work closest with the president actually ask a professional mental health expert to step in because he’s freaking them the fuck out.

That, however, is exactly what Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee claims has happened.

In an interview with Salon published Thursday, Lee, editor of 2017’s The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, claims that several White House staffers approached her to address the president’s declining faculties.…’

Via Splinter News

Wait, What? Antidepressant Exposure Breeds Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria?

Common Antidepressant Might Help Bacteria Become Superbugs:M2z9sipbqdeh4tauniw2

’Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a class of drug that prevents certain neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, a neurotransmitter. People with clinical depression often have less serotonin freely available, and SSRIs boost these levels, helping treat the condition to some extent.

In recent years, though, there’s some research showing that SSRIs such as fluoxetine can also kill off bacteria and other microbes, sparking interest in them being used as a new type of antimicrobial. But the flip side to this realization is the theoretical worry that fluoxetine can foster antibiotic resistance in the environment, since some of the drug ends up in our sewers after it flushes through our bodies.

The current study is touted as the first to test out that theory.…’

Via  Gizmodo