25 May 2008

All on the Mind

"Provigil and Ritalin really do enhance cognition in healthy people. Provigil, for example, adds the ability to remember an extra digit or so to an individual's working memory (most people can hold seven random digits in their memory, but have difficulty with eight). It also improves people's performance in tests of their ability to plan. Because of such positive effects on normal people, says the report, there is growing use of these drugs to stave off fatigue, help shift-workers, boost exam performance and aid recovery from the effects of long-distance flights.

Earlier this year, Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, carried out an informal survey of its (mostly scientific) readers. One in five of the 1,400 people who responded said they had taken Ritalin, Provigil or beta blockers (drugs that can have an anti-anxiety effect) for non-medical reasons. They used them to stimulate focus, concentration or memory. Of that one in five, 62% had taken Ritalin and 44% Provigil. Most users had somehow obtained their drugs on prescription or else bought them over the internet."


From He That Hath Not

...simply putting someone into a weak social position impairs his cognitive function. Conversely, “empowering” him, in the dread jargon of sociology, sharpens up his mind.

Dr Smith focused on those cognitive processes that help people maintain and pursue their goals in difficult and distracting situations. She suspected that a lack of social power may reduce someone's ability to keep track of information and make plans to achieve his goals.


I feel that I have had personal experiences that tally with this finding.

It also tallies with an assertion in The Lucifer Principle.

Smart Drugs

"Many people already use Provigil to cope with night-shift work, jet lag and lack of sleep, and suffer few side-effects. Others use beta-blockers to overcome the anxiety and stress of performance. Scientists use off-label drugs to increase their focus. If that helps them unravel the mysteries of the universe, so much the better. If chemical assistance can help increase the useful human lifespan, the benefits could be huge."


I wonder what the "off-label drugs to increase their focus" are.

21 May 2008

Super Consolidation Project

Eligible Rollover Fund

13 May 2008

Chinese Nationalism

The CNN television channel stoked anger not only with its coverage of events in China, but also with some intemperate remarks made by a curmudgeonly in-house commentator, Jack Cafferty. He said that although America's relationship with China has changed a great deal, “they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years.” Few in China were mollified when he later made it clear that he had meant China's government, not its people.


You mean they're a different bunch of goons and thugs?

11 May 2008

Render Unto Caesar

Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Matthew 22:19-21

The Romans were right to persecute Christianity - what a millstone it's been! But the "render unto Caesar" commandment was clever - it was a way out for Christians on the issue that governments care about most. It allowed them to survive, eventually to take over the government.

But most importantly of all, it set the stage for the distinction 1600 years later between the Church and the State, and public and private morality. It was an expedient, and although the chickens didn't come home to roost for 16 centuries, it contained one of the seeds of Christianity's ultimate downfall.

10 May 2008

If Japan Had Not Bombed Pearl Harbour...

It used to irritate me when, in response to any and every criticism of the United States, someone (usually an old fogey) would say: "They saved us [Australia] in The War".

It took me 20 years to formulate my response:

"If the Japan had not bombed Pearl Harbour, Australia might today be Japanese."

03 May 2008

The Tick Tock Man

Airport fiction, with all the attendant annoyances.

However, very good for 3 reasons:

1. It impresses upon on the psychological pressures on the bomb squad guys;

2. It goes into detail about various bomb types and the cat-and-mouse that go with their employment;

3. It shows the relationship between terrorism and politics, and the various political pressures and their relationship.

Trackers: The Untold Story of the Australian Dogs of War

Great book about Australian tracker dogs hunting the enemy in Vietnam. Well worth reading.

I think every squad ought to have a dog, both for tracking and for early-warning.

Status: Returning to Crackers.

Crossfire: An Australian Reconnaissance Unit in Vietnam

Part of the excellent series on Australians in Vietnam that began with Trackers. The present-day interludes of the vets on a hike in the Outback (not a feature of Trackers) were annoying, but the Vietnam bits are interesting.

Status: Returning to Crackers.

Fighting Skills of the SAS and Special Forces

Terry White
Secrets of hte world's fiercest combat units

Useful manual. Not thoroughly checked out, but the chapter on CT was useful, I thought.

Status: Returning to Crackers.

Shoot to Kill

Great book. Can't remember what it's about. Nice prose. Worth reading.