Over at Geekdad, they've posted an interview with David Peterson, who has been charged with creating a new language specifically for the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. I look forward to watching this eventually, as I don't subscribe to HBO. I enjoyed the first three books of Martin's series immensely. I didn't get through my first effort on the fourth book of the series - the main problem was the span of time between the third and fourth books, which was so long I had trouble picking up where the story had left off. I'll probably go through the whole series again from the beginning at some point, especially now that I see this production being made. HBO tends to do this sort of thing well, so hopefully the screen version won't disappoint. The interview is worth a quick read; the linguistics of creating a new language based on a fictional world is interesting (at least to me!).
"The effects of chronic methamphetamine use are numerous and often pronounced. Brecht, O'Brien, von Mayrhauser, and Anglin (2004) found that in a sample of 350 individuals recruited from a publicly funded treatment site, 84% reported weight loss because of their methamphetamine use. Other problems included sleeplessness (78%), financial problems (73%), paranoia (67%), legal problems (63%), hallucinations (61%), work problems (60%), violent behavior (57%), dental problems (55%), and skin problems (36%). Such consequences of continued use of the drug result from the stress the drug places on the physical being of the individual. Also, behavioral outcomes associated with methamphetamine use in terms of impaired cognitions and emotions place additional stress on the homeostasis and well-being of the human organism. In one extreme case, a 44-year old White man bisected his penis in a methamphetamine-induced psychosis (Isreal and Lee, 2002)."
One last Friday post snuck in! I chose this topic mainly because we are seeing just a ton of guys for evaluations who's past functioning has been chronically impaired by methamphetamine use, so we're really having to study up of the various symptoms associated with methamphetamine use, withdrawal, etc. The other reason is because I am preparing to launch a Breaking Bad marathon within the next couple of weeks, courtesy of receiving Seasons 1 and 2 as a birthday present. Nothing like some light, fluffy entertainment...
Research posted by Techcruch estimates that, worldwide, $112 billion was spent on televisions in 200, accounting for 205 million televisions. Of those, 141 million were LCDs. Of those, one was an LCD I purchased. I guess I'm just one of the herd, but damn do I like watching Blu-Ray movies!
On the other hand, I suppose this does not bode well for the global expansion of waist lines...
I have a book review pending for Rubicon, a book about the last days of the Roman Republic (hint: I loved it!). Unfortunately, it is written on a computer that is now without a screen, and that is now being mailed back to me by Dell (unrepaired, I might add). Once returned, I'll do my best to pull my writings off of its hard drive, and will hopefully be able to post my review.
Rubicon was written by Tom Holland, who also wrote Persian Fire, about Leonidas, Xerxes, and the war being the Greeks and the Persian Empire. Note - I loved that book, too. As a result, I read Rubicon, and will read Tom Holland's other stuff when able.
Based on my enjoyment of Rubicon, I recently began receiving HBO's series Rome in the mail. Disc 1 sat on my computer stand for two weeks, but I finally popped it into the player this weekend. All I can say is, "Wow!"
I'm not going to go into any kind of review; this has been around awhile (2005?), and I'm sure there are tons of quality reviews all over the Internet. Suffice to say that if you enjoy history presented well, with a focus on both the major players, as well as the day-to-day lives of the typical citizens, this series is for you. Well written, well acted, beautifully filmed, and with a story of remarkable importance and timelessness, I am four episodes in, and can't wait to watch more. I recommend the double dip - read Rubicon, which is very well written and will provide you with a sense of the time, players, and issues. Then, start watching Rome, and be sure to use the special feature "All Roads Lead to Rome," which provides bits of information and trivia on-screen as the episode plays. Two seasons were filmed, with 22 episodes total. I find this appealing, in that an end is in sight right off the bat, and the last episode appears to be at an appropriate juncture in Roman history. Enjoy! I know I will...
Blundering Barnacles!!!! Thar be pirates everywhere!!! Okay, not really. But, given the Somali pirate stuff in the news the last few months, pop culture has incorporated those events in a number of places. Here are two of my faves:
1) South Park - Episode 13 this year is "Fatbeard," where Cartman travels to Somalia to live out his dream of pirating. Of course, upon arrival, he and the crew observe Somalia is not a land of blue lagoons and overstuffed treasure chests. The episode is hysterical, and as usual, the South Park guys skewer a whole bunch of targets while delivering laughs along the way. Here's the musical clip of Cartman teaching the Somali pirates to shape up...
3) One of my favorite magazines, Mental Floss, has an article this month: "Ten Things You Didn't KNow About Somali Pirates." It's subscription only, so I'll give you just a taste:
"#2 - Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like a Pirate - According to some estimates, pirates in 2008 pulled in as much as $150 million, indicating that piracy is now Somalia's biggest industry. In fact, successful pirates are the country's most eligible bachelors. While small-time swashbucklers earn in the low five figures, bosses can pull in $2 million a year-this, in a country where you can buy dinner for less than $1. But, as their wallets fatten, many pirates are heading for greener pastures, and the real money is flowing out of the country with them. Many are buying properties on the seashore of Mombasa, Kenya where new condos are being built every day. If a condo is selling for a few million dollars, there's a good chance the bosses will throw in an extra half-million, just to make sure the Kenyans don't ask too many questions."
4) It seems like when most people think of pirates, they think 1600s to 1800s. However, piracy goes back waaaay before that. I recently finished reading Rubicon by Tom Holland, a fantastic book chronicling the end of the Roman Republic, and Caesar's rise in power. One section I found particularly interesting, in these heady pirate times, was that the early Roman Empire had its problems with pirates; in fact, many of the difficulties in dealing with the Somali pirates today (hard to find, many officials looking the other way) were major reasons for Rome's difficulties in combating pirating. From the book:
Whatever the rewards it was capable of brining them, however, kidnapping was only a sideline for the pirates. Calculated acts of intimidation ensured that they could extort and rob almost at will, inland as well as at sea. The scale of their plundering was matched by their pretensions. Their chiefs "claimed for themselves the status of kings and tyrants, and for their men, that of soldiers, believing that if they pooled their resources, they would be invincible." In the nakedness of their greed, and in their desire to make the whole world their prey, there was more than a parody of the Republic itself, a ghostly image that the Romans found unsettling in the extreme. The shadowiness of the pirates' organization, and their diffuse operations, made them a foe unlike any other. "The pirate is not bound by the rules of war, but is the common enemy of everyone," Cicero complained. "There can be no trusting him, no attempt to bind him with mutually agreed treaties."
Other issues related to the pirates (such as their being a main supplier of slaves, which created an interesting paradox to Cicero's concerns) are discussed in some detail, and the book in general is full of information presented with a very readable style. I'll review it more thoroughly in my next book review post, but suffice to say I recommend the book whole-heartedly.
So, I hope all this will slate your pirate thirst for awhile!
This article has been out for about a week now, but I figure I ought to comment on it, since I’ve pushed this meme on this blog on more than a few occasions. According to the research cited in this article, an analysis of 30 years worth of data from the General Social Survey is consistent with Robert Putnam’s conclusions in Bowling Alone: That is, happier people are more socially active, more religiously involved, more politically involved, and read the newspaper more frequently. In contrast, unhappier people spend a significantly higher amount of time watching television. It is noted in this article that there is a contrast between these findings, and recent research that showed people rating television-watching as a pleasurable activity in time diaries. From the article:
In contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time. These results also raise questions about recent and previous time-diary data, in which television rated quite highly when people were asked to rate how they felt when they engaged in various activities in "real time" in these daily diaries.
"These conflicting data suggest that TV may provide viewers with short-run pleasure, but at the expense of long-term malaise," said Professor Robinson. He also noted that earlier general satisfaction surveys also showed people rating TV below average as a significantly less satisfying free-time activity on the whole. "What viewers seem to be saying is that while TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, the shows I saw tonight were pretty good."
The ease and convenience of watching television is noted as a possible explanation for the generally high marks people will give to watching television in the moment. However, it is also pointed out that the short-term pleasure associated with watching T.V. is contrasted with a longer-term malaise.
Robert Putnam goes into even more detail in his book. He points out that more socially active/happier people not only differ in the amount of television they watch, when compared to less socially involved people, but also in the content of the programming that is watched, as well as how the television is watched. For example, from what I recall, individuals who are less socially involved will tend to leave the television on throughout the day, even when not actively watching it.
My general take on television, when I’ve applied it to treatment, is that it’s like most everything else: moderation is fine, but too much is no good. I’ve found that many of my depressed clients have watched way too much television, which lends extremely informal support to the arguments made by this article, and by Putnam. In addition, I’ve seen television creeping into areas of peoples’ lives where it is unhealthy, and interferes with social activity, even on a spousal or familial level. The main example of this, of course, is the family that has the television on during dinner.
This article would seem to be one more piece of evidence suggesting that reducing one’s television watching, and increasing one’s social activity, makes for a healthier, happier you. Then again, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already knewthat’s where I stand.
Well, apparently it was, but according to Wired, a second season has now officially been ordered. I'm surprised there was any debate. The show was well-done, and appeared to garner both good ratings and good reviews. And on a personal note, to borrow from Paul Rudd in The 40-Year Old Virgin, I thought TSCC "rocked the sh!t!" In other words, you know at least one show I'll be watching next year...