I posted this on Saturday, but somehow it unposted, so that's why the title refers to Friday.
Last night, I read a Trib article about Illinois high school students releasing alligator snapping turtles in Southern Illinois. I've never seen a snapping turtle in Illinois and, to be honest, I didn't know if we had snapping turtles in Illinois. Only time I ever saw them in the wild was in the South, most recently in Florida, in small golf course lakes at a resort.
Anyway, that got me reading about snapping turtles and I learned that Southern Illinois is the northern edge of the range for alligator snapping turtles, but the range for common snapping turtles extends to southern Canada. So we got 'em.
In fact, I've rarely seen turtles of any kind locally. Maybe only a half dozen times, all when I lived in the Northwest Burbs. I think they were all box turtles. Definitely not snapping turtles.
Today we were walking over a bridge above one the Chicago River branches, and what did we see swim to the surface? A big snapping turtle.
On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA.
NASA’s online article about the science of this solar storm is well-worth the read. Perhaps the scariest finding reported in the article is this: There is a 12 percent chance of a Carrington-type event on Earth in the next 10 years according to Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc.
I do wonder about that prediction. Is there something predictable about the sun's activity over the next 10 years that makes this an especially likely event?
Something interesting I read earlier in the week was that one of the suspects was identified using facial recognition software that presumably matched surveillance images to mugshots. That seems like a reach given the poor quality of the surveillance images, but perhaps the software created a pool of possible matches for further investigation.
Surprising new research on schizophrenia suggests, however, that people with mental illness may have stronger, stranger ties to their societies than we commonly assume. In a new article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann explains that for schizophrenics experiencing auditory hallucinations, the cultures they live in shape the voices they hear in their minds. Most psychiatric research is conducted by scientists. Luhrmann argues, though, that the same psychiatric condition can express itself differently in different cultures, which is where anthropologists come in. For this study, she interviewed adults with schizophrenia who live in three different places: Chennai, India, Accra, Ghana, and San Mateo, California. She asked each person to describe his or her auditory hallucinations—how many voices they heard, what the voices said, where they felt the voices were coming from.
I wonder how they insured that they were really sampling comparable populations in these three places? I can't find a free version of the article online, but I'm a bit doubtful. Maybe people who have more persecutory hallucinations in Accra and Channai are dealt with in ways that kept them out of the study samples. As deficient as much of our treatment of psychotic disorders in the US is for so many people, consider what treatment could consist of for a person afflicted in Ghana. Perhaps those afflicted with more paranoid and persecutory hallucinations wind up in those settings.
Mind you, this isn't to dismiss the potential significance of the findings. If the differences they found reflect real differences in the broader populations of persons with schizophrenia, the implications are quite important and consistent with those who argue that we could be more helpful to patients experiencing auditory hallucinations by including innovative non-pharmacological therapies. I posted something on this subject a couple of years ago and, looking that post up, I see that I linked at that time to another article by Tanya Luhrmann, which is also worth a look.
By the time I was in graduate school, psychiatry had for the most part adopted a medication and minimalist supportive therapy approach, though my psychologist education still included introduction to non-pharm therapeutic approaches. Does anyone still read Ping-Nie Pao? The problem with non-pharm therapies that went beyond caseworker support was that they were lengthy and costly at a time when the insurance industry was rapidly moving toward a cheapest and quickest model of reimbursement.
Recently, Illinois passed legislation to put prescription pads in the hands of psychologists, so I imagine that will only lessen the interest in non-pharm, therapeutic intervention, at least among young psychologists around here who will no doubt gravitate toward more profitable prescription practice.