54k is a historical high point for the number of views of my flickr account in a single day. Nearly 42k of those views were for the dog photo in this post. It appeared to me that the dog got more views than any other photo on flickr that day... except for a photo of three cats that edged out the dog by about 500 views. Still, on a per-pet basis, the dog trounces the cats.
Today, the dog has garnered another nine thousand views.
I've been binge-listening to the wildly popular program, Serial. If, somehow, you haven't heard about this documentary podcast, here's the lowdown from Wikipedia.
Season 1" is an investigation into a 1999 Baltimore murder. [co-producer and host Sarah] Koenig has said, Serial is "about the basics: love and death and justice and truth. All these big, big things." She also has noted, "this is not an original idea. Maybe in podcast form it is, and trying to do it as a documentary story is really, really hard. But trying to do it as a serial, this is as old as Dickens." Episodes are released weekly on Thursday.
Hae Min Lee was an 18-year-old student at Woodlawn High School. Lee was last seen at approximately 3:00 p.m. on January 13, 1999. Her corpse was discovered on February 9 in Leakin Park and identified two days later, with the case immediately being treated as a homicide. Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Musud Syed was arrested on February 28 at 6 a.m. and charged with first-degree murder, which led to "some closure and some peace" for Lee's family. A memorial service for Lee was held on March 11 at Woodlawn High School. Syed was found guilty of Lee's murder on February 25, 2000 after a six-week trial, and was given a life sentence despite pleading his innocence.
The podcast also exposes the challenges to finding the truth when faced with complex and unknown motives, conflicting judgments of character, various cognitive biases and the limitations of eyewitness memory.
The subject matter is dark, but Koenig avoids sensationalism in her thoroughly engaging presentation.
Retriever emailed an interesting article about pros, cons, hopes and doubts associated with the increasing use of ketamine (the party drug Special K) in the treatment of depression. You can find that article here.
Promising research findings have led to off-label prescription of ketamine for depression and clinics that provide extremely expensive infusion therapy for those who have not found help with other treatments. Lots of caveats, but I'm glad that another option may be opening up for those who find nothing else that helps.
Recently, I came across this entertaining (to me) video of the B52s performing in Atlanta (they're from Athens, GA) before the release of their first album. Around 5:30-5:40 you can see what it was, a charisma of sorts, that got the crowds going in those small clubs.
At some point, a friend in the music industry gave me a cut-out of one of the early B52s albums, but I don't remember if it was that first album. In the 80s, my friend gave me a couple of hundred cut-outs that I eventually sold with the rest of my vinyl because of a lack of storage space, and to pick up a little extra cash while I was in graduate school. There was a lot of New Wave stuff in that collection.
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, long one of the state's most colorful and outspoken elected officials, died early Wednesday of complications from a stroke she suffered Tuesday, her chief of staff said. Ms. Topinka was 70.
For those outside Illinois, Topinka was a longtime Republican pol who was defeated by Rod Blagojevich in the 2006 Illinois governor's race. She was quite a character.
Far from being a politician packaged and presented like a commodity, Topinka displayed an impulsive, candid style. During one of her campaigns, her fliers called it "common sense, straight talk, hard work" -- that either drew people in or drove them away.
During the 2006 GOP governor primary, she dubbed her Republican opponents "morons" and proclaimed that then-Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has "little weasel eyes." Her joke about flatulence at her first inauguration (to the Illinois House) is now a part of Springfield lore. [...]
Ms. Topinka graduated from Ferry Hall High School in Lake Forest in 1962 and received a degree four years later from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After graduating, she worked for several suburban newspapers, eventually becoming an editor. She later served in public affairs for the American Medical Association and also provided public relations advice to local political candidates. She began her own political career with election to the Illinois House in 1980 and moved to the Illinois Senate in 1984, where she served for a decade until her election as state treasurer.
[B]oth the New York Times and NBC News have identified them as Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two psychologists who have been previously singled out for their roles in developing and legitimizing the torture program.
Both psychologists come from an Air Force background and had been involved in training service members in resistance to torture.
[H]ow did these two men come to play such an outsized role in developing and enacting the CIA’s torture program? Much of the story is captured in a 2009 Times article by Scott Shane. Shane writes that Mitchell, who after retirement “had started a training company called Knowledge Works” to supplement his income, realized that the post-9/11 military would provide business opportunities for those with his kind of experience and started networking with his contacts to seek them out.
Eventually, Shane writes, Mitchell got himself an audience with the CIA, won some of its members over with his toughness-infused ideas for dealing with terrorists, brought his old friend Jessen onboard, and developed a proposed interrogation method of dealing with al-Qaeda detainees that would grow into the frequently brutal program described in the Senate report summary. Shane writes that Mitchell participated in the 2002 CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda’s purported third in command, in Thailand:
With the backing of agency headquarters, Dr. Mitchell ordered Mr. Zubaydah stripped, exposed to cold and blasted with rock music to prevent sleep. Not only the F.B.I. agents but also C.I.A. officers at the scene were uneasy about the harsh treatment. Among those questioning the use of physical pressure, according to one official present, were the Thailand station chief, the officer overseeing the jail, a top interrogator and a top agency psychologist.
The brutal techniques described in the senate report don't appear to be the product of professional expertise. Any sadist can come up with ways to inflict physical and emotional pain that drives a target to the brink.
Here I should also add that nothing in the training of a psychologist prepares one to be an effective torturer. I also doubt that the existing body of literature on torture includes peer reviewed research on how to effectively torture people.
My inbox is always stuffed with requests to promote or review books, products and services. Most of it is of no interest, so you'll never hear about it from me. But today, NPR sent a promo for a new psychology program that begins airing on Friday, January 9, 2015. The show is called Invisibila. I'll definitely check it out.
Here's an excerpt from the email:
Invisibilia explores how people's lives are shaped – and sometimes even controlled – by ideas and feelings that are powerful and rarely examined. Creators and co-hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller – who helped to create the groundbreaking radio programs This American Life and Radiolab – combine powerful storytelling and cutting-edge research from the pages of scientific journals to bring listeners a unique audio experience. In the pilot season, Spiegel and Miller dig into how everyone has had, at times, dark, disturbing thoughts and whether those thoughts have any significance. They look at how fear can shape people's actions; what causes fear and how to exert control over it. Another show examines how expectations have real-world consequences so powerful that they could overcome physical disability.
"Each program is scientifically rigorous, jumping right to the heart of the latest psychological and brain research," said Anne Gudenkauf, Senior Supervising Editor of NPR's Science Desk. "Alix and Lulu show us how what scientists know sheds light on what we experience. Invisibilia anchors its examinations with intimate accounts from real people living at the boundaries of our understanding of that new science."
"Invisibilia will introduce you to people and ideas you've never encountered before," said Spiegel. "We profile these very unusual people because their experiences allow us to look more closely at the invisible forces that shape us all – things like fear and empathy."
A 2011 post on therapists sleeping during sessions saw a bump in traffic yesterday, prompting me to reread the New York Magazine article discussed in the post. I may comment further when I've got a bit more time, but for now, here is a repost.
Cheryl Fuller offered some thoughtful comments on a New York Magazine article about therapists falling asleep during sessions. Dr Fuller has never fallen asleep during a session, but she writes:
I have certainly had the experience of being sleepy in a session, especially late in the day, though I have never fallen asleep during one and so far as I know no therapist I have seen has fallen asleep while I was there either. There are those hours when the time crawls, when it takes forever for the hand on the clock to move 5 minutes, let alone 50. When that happens, I know to look both at what is going on in me -- am I unusually tired? Is there something in this material that I want to avoid, to not hear? Is there something about this patient that I turn away from? And I consider what might be happening with the patient -- what, on an unconscious level, might have him want to put me to sleep, to move me into unconsciousness. What does that represent to him?
And you thought publicizing nude photos of celebrities was an invasion of privacy? The Sony Pictures hack has revealed sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, of more than 47,000 current and former Sony employees—some of them famous Hollywood stars.
Social Security numbers appeared more than 1.1 million times in the 601 publicly-posted files stolen by hackers, according to Identity Finder.
The data security firm also found a handful other other identifiable data, including full names, dates of birth, and home addresses, which Identity Find said could easily be used to commit identity fraud.
"The most concerning finding in our analysis is the sheer number of duplicate copies of Social Security numbers that existed inside the files," Identify Finder CEO Todd Feinman said in a statement. "In this instance, some SSNs appeared in more than 400 different locations, giving hackers more opportunities to wreak havoc."
It's one thing if your credit or debit details are stolen—you can just call the bank to cancel your card and have a new one reissued, often getting fraudulent charges wiped out. But Social Security numbers aren't so simple to replace. Such a breach, according to Identity Finder, could take many years for victims to rectify.
Use of social security numbers should be limited to taxpayer identification and receipt of associated government benefits. Period. The use of nearly impossible to replace, lifelong government-assigned identification numbers by private organizations in the business of tracking and extending credit creates a massive, involuntary vulnerability.
I'm sure criminals would still find ways to commit credit fraud, but the crime-magnet business of credit extension should be separated from unchangeable government identification.