California police use of body cameras cuts violence and complaints

So this one largely speaks for itself; all commentary on my part would pretty much come in the form of angry rants. Basically, yes, please, let’s implement this. Accountability FTW.

I *will* say that if the reported scope of change with cameras vs.without is accurate, then “When you know you’re being watched you behave a little better” is one heck of an understatement.

Depression for Algernon

So, I can’t comment directly on the research without seeing the research directly (it’s behind a paywall). So, I can’t *authoritatively* say just how crap I think the research is, or just how unfounded the conclusions are (but, I always find something to criticize, of course).

That said, the broad conclusion reached is, well, also brought to you in part by Captain Obvious. Different kinds of stressors generate different kinds of reactions, and those reactions also vary based on the individual. Like, no crap, dude.

That said- and I’m dodging so very, very many tangents and pet rants, I promise you- the subject of learned helpless is one that does kind of fascinate me, because it hits on an oft-ignored aspect of “depression,” which is this: *It does what it does for a reason.* Hence “learned.”

Insanity* has been operationally defined as repeatedly trying the same thing and expecting different results. Why on earth, then, is it considered a form of mental illness to, after a series of defeats, *stop trying?* Really. Think about it. The fact that capitulating to depression is *usually* a bad idea aside, it’s also something that often *makes sense* to do.

Anyway. So, science continues to tell us that we can make mice depressed or not depressed based on different factors. Hooray for us.

*if you ask someone in a 12-step program, anyway. It’s actually more precisely a legal term that refers to the ability to know right from wrong, but let’s pretend, for a moment.

Those Specific Drugs We Like To Use When We Kill People- Update

So apparently Ohio decided to get creative and use midazolam (a benzodiazepine- same class of drugs as xanax, klonopin or valium) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid- a very powerful opiate) instead.

Well, that’s just lovely.

Those Specific Drugs We Like To Use When We Kill People

OK, let’s start off with the news that brought this to my awareness (this, plus a coincidental conversation last weekend- where, might I add, I was glad I had decided to keep this blog/actually had successful interactions with fellow human beings where I had interesting things to say, so we can totally score one for the silly blog concept):

If this issue is interesting enough to you, you can certainly click around from the two articles and find other things, and/or Google (or DuckDuckGo, if you want more privacy) some of the stuff that comes up.

Discussion about the death penalty (and broad discussion about how effed the criminal justice system is) aside, can I just say. For one second. Srsly…

Big pharma decided to have morals? Like, for realsies??? Since when? Is this a Europe thing, or is it just that it stopped being profitable to the companies, or what?

OK, anyway, assume the above paragraph went on for several more pages of me wanting to believe that there can be good in this world at levels it seems unlikely to continue to exist at, and let’s move on. Because there’s another layer, one step back.

Apparently the people-killing drug we’re running out of *now* is actually the drug we *started* using when we ran out of the *original* drug that we liked to use to kill people.

So here’s the kind of amazing part. We’ve been getting our lethal injection drugs from a very limited number of suppliers. Guess I never thought about it, but it strikes me as truly amazing that one company can have a monopoly on… well, death. Or, state-ordered death, anyway. Perhaps that’s partly because my job, in particular, serves to remind me on a more-frequently-than-I’d-like basis that it’s not exactly difficult to come up with lethal drugs.

We’ve got drugs that we can use in assisted suicides (and legislation for allowing that is becoming increasingly popular). We sure as heck have drugs we can kill ourselves with *accidentally,* and we can go (start to finish) to fascinating underground lengths to get ahold of the illicit ones. The country regulates the heck out of “illegal” drugs and encourages and in some cases outright enforces the use of ‘”legal” drugs in ways that often only make sense when you assume someone somewhere is getting bribed. We’ve got, in short, all kinds of issues with drugs in this country, and all kinds of drugs, and lots of the drugs we have do, in fact, end up killing people.

And yet, somehow, with all that, we can actually *run out* of That One Drug We Like To Use When We Kill People On Purpose.

Because… why? The American criminal justice system is concerned with minimizing suffering and being humane? *That’s* the justification we’re using? because, seriously. Just sit and think about that one for a second. Ponder it. *Digest* it. Well, maybe take some Pepto Bismol preemptively first.

I guess it’s just one more “what the $*&%?” to add to the long list of issues and rants about, well, a whole bunch of topics at once, really.

A Hospital Tells Police Where Fights Happen, And Crime Drops

There’s pros and cons to everything.

In many ways, this is a wonderful example of research actually being used in a useful way, in my opinion.

I do wonder what the responses were on the parts of consumers and business establishments to these mandates, though. Plastic cups, for example- brilliant, in a sense, but what was the cost to the pubs and clubs to make the switch? What are the fines and/or costs to violating the no-glass-cups order? What’s the cost to the environment to be using more plastic? More to the point- *is it patronizing?* (Couldn’t we also just force all drunk people to wear helmets and mittens?)

Always interesting to consider the tradeoffs that can be made between safety and freedom. I greatly like the idea of harm reduction and policy change towards that, as an extremely general rule. But the
closure of “trouble spots” starts to wander into “too-far” territory. Before I could judge it one way or another, I’d need to know exactly what these “big trouble spots” were, and what options were provided to their owners. Heck, I’d need the whole history and backstory to the culture around each “trouble spot,” the “trouble” it tended to attract, why that was the case, and that sort of thing. And, of course, as this is a study done within a specific location, whether eliminating these trouble spots actually *reduced* violence, or just moved it. (Best guess: It probably did both.)

Not that my judgement means anything. I certainly hope that the people behind making this policy also thought through all the subtle nuances. They may have. If they did, they’re better than most.

Do antidepressants impair the ability to extinguish fear?

So, this one I know darn well is questionable. Because, well, practically all medical science is questionable, because common research practices are atrociously sloppy at best (fraudulent at worst). But, nevertheless, I find this interesting, because WHATIF.

Antidepressants are super-common for people, in general, to be on. Moreso people who have anxiety disorders. That using them would, in fact, help trap people in the very problems they’re supposed to fix… well. It speaks for itself.

And I shall stop my rant here before I start sounding like Tom Cruise.

quick facts on Syria

So, a more serious post, here. I honestly found the linked article above somewhat helpful. Though, without getting into a political rant, I don’t at all assume we (‘merica) are sticking our nose in anyplace except to protect and further our own interests. Cuz, that’s not how it really works. It seems, honestly, almost silly that we ever pretend anything else, but I guess some people really do but it.

HOORAY depressing things to think about.


So here’s a heavier topic than radioactive bananas, but I think it’s worthy of a post, anyway. (Or, rather, worthy of resurrection from my stockpile of “interesting factoids I found on teh internets.”)

One of my pet hates is bad research; closely following on its heels is my loathing of the way that research is reported upon in the media.

Unemployment statistics that are most often reported are also most often pretty much meaningless, because they leave huge chunks of the population out. Like, huuuuuuuge. So, when I stumbled across this, it gave me at least an eensy bit of hope that somewhere, someone really *was* doing data collection a little less stupidly. It’s just that it’s the stupider statistics that get reported on most. Of course. Anyway, have a look at the above links, while I contemplate the state of research, statsics and reporting in the media (aka while I bang my head against my desk).

and now for your daily dose of depressing

Man, I’m not sure there’s even an adequate way to comment on this one. But, for those of us who live in coastal areas, g’head an take a second, and think that maybe, within your lifetime, damn near everything that you currently value, use, live in, and think of as normal will literally be doomed to be buried underwater.

OK, so now that I’ve ruined your day, watch the following video and feel better (and feel your teeth instantly decay away to nothing):

(if for some reason the link dies, google “how to stop a nightmare.”  You’ve probably seen it before.  It’s worth watching again anyway.)