Hyperactive Prescribing? Ctd

Apr 19 2014 @ 7:29am

A reader wraps up the popular thread:

It’s remarkable how to me how much of the ADHD discussion has focused on people who seem to have been, even before diagnosis and medication, abnormally high achievers: elite college graduates, law school graduates, medical students. Recall that only about a third of this country attains the level of a bachelor’s degree. I think a large part of people’s knee-jerk skepticism about ADHD stems from the fact that, at least anecdotally, this condition seems to disproportionately afflict people at or near the top of the income/education distribution. I don’t doubt the sincerity of your readers who describe what a life-changing experience it was to start taking amphetamines, and I’m sure their diagnoses have allowed them to thrive in the rarefied ranks of fast-paced, high-pressure fields like law and medicine. But it’s the preponderance of ADHD cases among exactly those kinds of people that causes the suspicious looks from the pharmacists and the eye rolls from people like me.

Is it not worth considering the possibility that the pressures and expectations of modern-day elite occupations are, for lack of a better word, insane? That the person who can simultaneously excel and be happy under the typical demands of, say, a medical resident or first-year law associate is a very rare psychological outlier? My sense is that the strong feelings some people have about the (over)diagnosis of ADHD has to do with the fear that we’re trying to medicate our way out of an existential crisis: most people were simply not designed to thrive under the conditions that society holds up as the very height of achievement.

Saying Goodbye To Gabo

Apr 18 2014 @ 8:30pm

The Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, known as “Gabo” to fans, died yesterday at age eighty-seven. Nick Caistor reflects on the Nobel laureate’s legacy:

[I]t is as a writer of fiction, enjoyed by everyone from untutored readers to academics in universities around the world, that García Márquez will be remembered. By the mid-1960s, he had published three novels that enjoyed reasonable critical acclaim in Latin America, but neither huge commercial nor international success. His fourth novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, first published not in Colombia but in Argentina, was to change all that. It tells the story of succeeding generations of the archetypal Buendía family and the amazing events that befall the isolated town of Macondo, in which fantasy and fact constantly intertwine to produce their own brand of magical logic. The novel has not only proved immediately accessible to readers everywhere, but has influenced writers of many nationalities, from Isabel Allende to Salman Rushdie. Although the novel was not the first example of magical realism produced in Latin America, it helped launch what became known as the boom in Latin American literature, which helped many young and talented writers find a new international audience for their often startlingly original work.

Josh Jones remarks on the “magical realism” label inextricably linked with García Márquez’s work:

While the term has perhaps been overused to the point of banality in critical and popular appraisals of Latin-American writers (some prefer Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier’s lo real maravilloso, “the marvelous real”), in Marquez’s case, it’s hard to think of a better way to describe the dense interweaving of fact and fiction in his life’s work as a writer of both fantastic stories and unflinching journalistic accounts, both of which grappled with the gross horrors of colonial plunder and exploitation and the subsequent rule of bloodthirsty dictators, incompetent patriarchs, venal oligarchs, and corporate gangsters in much of the Southern Hemisphere.

Nevertheless, it’s a description that sometimes seems to obscure García Marquez’s great purpose, marginalizing his literary vision as trendy exotica or a “postcolonial hangover.” Once asked in a Paris Review interview the year before his Nobel win about the difference between the novel and journalism, García Márquez replied, “Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same.”

In that 1981 Paris Review interview, the author continued:

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A Poem For Good Friday

Apr 18 2014 @ 8:02pm


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

A new biography of the English poet George Herbert (1593-1633) by John Drury, Music at Midnight, has occasioned a lovely essay by Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian this week. To introduce the poems we’ve chosen for this Easter weekend, we’ll quote the opening of Lezard’s piece:

The devil, whatever people may say, doesn’t have all the best tunes. Of all the lyric poetry our language has produced, George Herbert’s is among the most musical, poignant, direct and, at the same time, subtle and intelligent. It makes allowances for the weakness of the heart—often, indeed, that is its primary subject—and nine-tenths of the poetry that survives is about God.

Herbert’s poetry was passionately admired by T.S.Eliot, W.H.Auden, and Elizabeth Bishop, who wrote, “The three qualities I admire in the poetry I like best are: Accuracy, Spontaneity, Mystery. My three ‘favorite’ poets—not the best poets, whom we all admire, but favorite in the sense of one’s ‘best friends,’ etc. are Herbert, Hopkins, and Baudelaire.

For more on Herbert, you might peruse the contemporary poet Alfred Corn’s illuminating essay on Herbert’s life as a country priest and poet. It can be found on the Poetry Society of America website here.

“Redemption” by George Herbert:

Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.
In heaven at his manour I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.
I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
Of theeves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, & died.

(Antonio Ciseri’s, Ecce homo, a depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people, via Wikimedia Commons)

Face Of The Day

Apr 18 2014 @ 7:35pm

Good Friday Ecumenical Service And Procession

Sister Daphne and Sister Suzette participate the ecumenical Good Friday procession  in Berlin Germany on April 18, 2014. Under the theme of “Reformation and Politics”, the Protestant church invites this year’s politicians to join the traditional march through Berlin. By Christian Marquardt/Getty Images.

Marking Jackie Robinson Day earlier this week, Matt Welch attributes the declining percentage of black baseball players in recent years to the expansion of opportunities for black men elsewhere:

Baseball, ahead of other professions, and ahead of other sports, allowed people with black skin to compete. Combined with the deep bench of talent that had been nurtured in the Negro Leagues, this opening led to black participation rates that quickly zoomed north of U.S. Census figures (which these days put the African-American population at 12.6 percent). But as other professional sports opened up and—importantly—became popular, black Americans started picking up the shoulder pads and lacing up the high-tops. Happiest of all, black kids in school nowadays know they are not doomed to max out as porters or bellhops. That doesn’t mean racism is behind us in the workplace, but it does mean that fields of competition in all walks of life have opened up in ways that even optimists would have found difficult to believe in 1964.

Meanwhile, actual “diversity” in baseball has never been higher. More than 26 percent of big-league baseball players were born outside of the United States, across 16 different countries.

Kavitha Davidson pushes back a bit:

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John D. Sutter worries that the pangolin, or “scaly anteater,” could die out due to lack of publicity:

The pangolin possesses none of the cachet of better-known animals that are hot on the international black market. It lacks the tiger’s grace, the rhino’s brute strength. If the pangolin went to high school, it would be the drama geek – elusive, nocturnal, rarely appreciated and barely understood. When it’s frightened, it actually curls up into a roly-poly ball. The pangolin could go extinct before most people realize it exists. Or, more to the point: It could go extinct because of that.

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Algeria Votes

Apr 18 2014 @ 6:04pm

In a primer written before yesterday’s election, Hicham Yezza outlined the state of play:

Of course, rather than a credible contest pitting six viable pretenders, the 2014 elections were always destined to be a popular referendum on the past record – and future legacy – of the one candidate many have already accepted as the inevitable winner, presidential incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika. In power since his election to a first term in 1999, and already the country’s longest serving leader, the 77-year-old has had a rather eventful 12 months. Having suffered a minor stroke a year ago – which consigned him to a 3-month hospital stay in Paris – he has spent much of the period since his return in June 2013 trying to shore up his position at the helm of the Algerian governing ship. Seeing him as fatally weakened, many thought the prospect of a fourth term no longer thinkable, and the outspoken nature of such scepticism presaged a palace mutiny. Instead, Bouteflika took everyone by surprise with a brutal and wide-ranging summer reshuffle at the heart of the state apparatus, chiefly an attempt to cut his key rivals within the DRS (secret services), the FLN and the army, down to size. Whatever Bouteflika’s plans for 2014 were, a side-door gentle exit was not one of them.

Nabila Ramdani provides some background on the ailing president, who local media have declared the winner before the vote count is even finished:

Bouteflika is by no means a Gaddafi, Ben Ali or Mubarak, but his decision to stand in what were described by his government as fair and free elections was unwise.

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How To Stamp Out Stampedes

Apr 18 2014 @ 5:29pm

With the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster falling this week, Chris Cocking looks at the lessons learned:

The way the police viewed football (and other) crowds in the 1980s influenced how they policed them. This is why they failed to spot the fatal crush developing until it was too late; it was exacerbated by the police believing that Liverpool fans were attempting to invade the pitch (hence the cordon they maintained near the half-way line while the disaster was at its height), when in fact they were merely trying to escape the fatal crush. This misplaced belief resulted in police pushing fans back into the pens while people still inside them were dying.

A common theme emerges runs through this catalogue of mistakes:

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I’m done venting. Promise. For a sane and reality-based short history of the marriage equality movement, check out this Buzzfeed piece from a year ago by Chris Geidner, the best reporter on gay politics online. For a more objective take on Becker, here’s a very solid, informed critique by Adam Teicholz. He helps you see better why Becker’s disparagement of the key men and women who made marriage equality is so offensive. Money quote:

It will be tempting for those on the outside to dismiss Sullivan’s critique (and those, to come, of the slighted activists who will surely line up to take potshots) as the infighting and backbiting of sore losers. They are not. I have no skin in the fight between factions; to the extent I have personal connections, they are on both sides. I know Evan and others at Freedom to Marry, and Ken Mehlman, whom Becker features prominently, is a friend. I believe that marriage would not have come to New York State in 2011 if it weren’t for Melhman’s savvy, and obstinacy. But there is simply no plausible case to be made that he, Griffin, Black, Olson, and Boies—as hardworking and smart as they are—are the protagonists of the gay-rights revolution.

He’s particularly sharp on how Becker/Griffin disses one of the most gifted political strategists of the movement, Tim Gill. Hank Plante notes how Becker’s attack on everyone in the movement apart from Griffin is just an extension of Griffin’s own contempt for the two decades of staggering progress that made his unseemly credit-grabbing possible:

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Mental Health Break

Apr 18 2014 @ 4:20pm

A watercolor compilation of your favorite YouTube cats:

New York Is Down With NPV

Apr 18 2014 @ 4:00pm

It just become the 11th state to join the National Popular Vote Compact, whose members agree to award their electoral votes in presidential elections to the winner of the popular vote, effective as soon as 270 electors’ worth of states sign the compact. Rick Hertzberg cheers:

A lot of people labor under the misapprehension that the Electoral College status quo is good for small states, or rural states, or states that don’t have big cities in them. Actually, the only states it’s good for, qua states, are swing states. The jurisdictions that have approved N.P.V. so far come in all sizes. Four are small (Rhode Island, Vermont, and Hawaii, plus the District of Columbia), three are medium-sized (Maryland, Washington, and Massachusetts), and four are large (New Jersey, Illinois, California, and now New York).

The discerning reader will have noticed that all eleven, besides being spectator states, are also blue states. The absence of red states from the roster is due largely to to a suspicion among Republican politicians and operatives that N.P.V. is somehow an attempt to get revenge for 2000. In opinion polls, Republican rank-and-filers, as distinct from Party professionals, strongly favor the idea of popular election. And a nontrivial number of Republican pros favor the plan itself.

Ryan Cooper looks at which states get screwed over the most by the Electoral College:

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The View From Your Obamacare

Apr 18 2014 @ 3:40pm

A reader writes:

Thank you so much for giving me a platform to share my Obamacare success story! Well, actually, it’s my brother’s story and it starts about a year ago. He was 25 and working for a small radio group in President Obama Visits Boston To Talk About Health CareIthaca, NY. He got into a PhD program at IUP, and since he was barely making any money, he decided to quit his job and spend the summer relaxing and traveling and visiting friends before starting school.

Those plans got thwarted when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June. Three surgeries later, I am happy to say that he is in recovery and doing great, but damn, my family would’ve been fucked without Obamacare. It let my brother stay on my parents’ insurance, so he was covered when he got his diagnosis. I’m not sure what the costs of his treatment have been exactly, but the bill for just administering the radioactive iodine pill he had to take was almost $200,000.  When you add to that all the tests and the three surgeries, the costs have got to be close to a million, if not more. My family would likely be considered well-off, but those costs would’ve bankrupted us.

It’s possible that he would’ve been on Cobra without Obamacare, but I think it’s at least equally likely that he would’ve decided to just wait until he could join the school plan because Cobra is so expensive. At the very least, Obamacare has saved my family from significants costs. And, because he now has a pre-existing condition, it’s the only reason he can buy health insurance and will be able to for the rest of his life.

A reader in Georgia:

My ex and I are splitting soon. I’m leaving my job in a few weeks and moving to another state across the country and will be unemployed for a few months as I switch careers. He’s staying here and working his way through his last couple of semesters of college. He has a pre-existing condition that requires medical oversight and expensive prescriptions. Until I leave my employer in a few weeks, I pay for his insurance through my employer-provided domestic partner coverage. Now that I’m leaving my job and moving to another state, he will have to purchase insurance on his own, something that was impossible before Obamacare due to pre-existing exclusions from the individual health insurance market.

Because we live in a GOP state, thanks to Obamacare, he can buy insurance (yay!) but doesn’t make enough to qualify for subsidies (boo!).

Read On

Malkin Award Nominee

Apr 18 2014 @ 3:22pm

“In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about [Truvada], they’ve all been associated with bareback porn. They’re all associated with bareback porn, which kind of makes my point that it’s a party drug,” – Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest HIV/AIDS medical care provider in the U.S.

Yesterday, a troubling report that Jews in Donetsk were being ordered to report to the local authorities and register their property made the rounds in the press and on the Internet. Ioffe explains that the story is overblown:

Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill: apparently, the People’s Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new “authorities,” or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel, who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and, today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers as “grotesque.”

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. ”I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”

But Anna Nemtsova talks to a local Jewish leader who points out that there are prominent anti-Semites within the pro-Russian camp and worries that nobody is looking out for his community:

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A Quote For Good Friday

Apr 18 2014 @ 2:37pm

“Just as we were all, potentially, in Adam when he fell, so we were all, potentially, in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday before there was an Easter, a Pentecost, a Christian, or a Church. It seems to me worth while asking ourselves who we should have been and what we should have been doing. None of us, I’m certain, will imagine himself as one of the Disciples, cowering in an agony of spiritual despair and physical terror. Very few of us are big wheels enough to see ourselves as Pilate, or good churchmen enough to see ourselves as a member of the Sanhedrin. In my most optimistic mood I see myself as a Hellenized Jew from Alexandria visiting an intellectual friend. We are walking along, engaged in philosophical argument. Our path takes us past the base of Golgotha. Looking up, we see an all-too-familiar sight — three crosses surrounded by a jeering crowd. Frowning with prim distaste, I say, ‘It’s disgusting the way the mob enjoy such things. Why can’t the authorities execute criminals humanely and in private by giving them hemlock to drink, as they did with Socrates?’ Then, averting my eyes from the disagreeable spectacle, I resume our fascinating discussion about the nature of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful,” – W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book.

(Hat tip: Alan Jacobs)

The View From Your Window

Apr 18 2014 @ 2:20pm


Avery Island, Louisiana, 10 am

Dissent Of The Day

Apr 18 2014 @ 2:00pm

A reader writes:

Your criticism of Jo Becker is hopelessly histrionic. I watched election returns at my then-boyfriend’s apartment in West Hollywood on November 4, 2008. I still recall the bewildering disorientation associated with feeling such enormous pride that our country had elected our first black president – while, at the same time, feeling such hopeless despair that my state didn’t care about making me a second-class citizen by approving Prop 8.

It was clear to me on that night that something in the marriage equality movement needed to change. The “No on Prop 8″ advertisements that I had been watching and writing a series of small checks to fund were offensive in their banality. Rather than frame the issue in the manner that a majority have subsequently come to understand it – as a matter of fundamental human dignity, love, family, and fairness – the “No on 8″ campaign relied on soundbites from Dianne Feinstein, overly defensive rebuttals of ads claiming that Proposition 8 would lead to the kids being converted to homosexuality, and a steadfast resistance to showing gay couples who were actually affected by the issue. The folks who Jo Becker write about are the folks who saw what a hopeless loser the No on Prop 8 was – and how laughably awful other similar campaigns opposing gay-marriage bans were.

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The Putin Way Of War, Ctd

Apr 18 2014 @ 1:39pm

Vice captures a Ukrainian police station being overrun:

Mark Thompson explores the Russian military tradition of maskirovka in more depth:

Maskirovka (which is rooted in the English word, mask) is designed to sow confusion and frustration among opponents by denying them basic information.

The anonymous troops in eastern Ukraine say only that they’re “Cossacks,” but Ukrainian and Western officials believe many of them are led by Russian special forces. Yet the murkiness of their origin and sponsors inflates their menace, and makes it more difficult to figure out how to deal with them. Snipping puppet strings between Ukraine and Moscow may be easier than controlling indigenous separatists operating independently. A combination of both complicates matters still further.

Patrick Tucker reports that Ukrainians are taking the matter of separating real protesters from Russian infiltrators into their own hands:

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The Math On The Midterms

Apr 18 2014 @ 1:18pm

Sides calculates that the GOP’s House majority could grow significantly larger:

 [B]ased on the current model and current conditions, there is a real chance that the 2014 election could give the GOP as many or more seats as it had after the wave election of 2010.  There is less of a chance, though still a chance, that the GOP could command a majority as large as its post-WWII high-water mark.  But, as of now, 2014 appears unlikely to give the GOP the unprecedented majorities it had after 1928 (or after 1920 for that matter, when it controlled 302 seats).

Sean Trende, meanwhile, wonders about the Democrats picking up Senate seats:

Don’t get me wrong: For Democrats to gain seats this cycle would be the equivalent of drawing a straight flush. With that said, straight flushes do occur, so it’s worth examining how it might occur here.

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Joe Coscarelli introduces the above video:

With NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s asylum in Russia still technically temporary, he’s doing his best to fit in. [Yesterday], that included a special appearance — or bizarre PR stunt — during a televised Q&A with Vladimir Putin, in which Snowden served up a chance for Putin to tell the world that Russia doesn’t spy on its citizens like the big bad U.S. does. “I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia’s policy of mass surveillance,” said Snowden. “So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze the communication of millions?”

Putin, it’s safe to say, was not caught off guard by the line of inquiry.

For Allahpundit, this proves that Snowden is a tool of the Kremlin:

Only two possibilities here. One: There’s an FSB agent out of frame with a gun pointed at Snowden’s head, just to make sure that he reads the cue card as written. In that case, decide for yourself how likely it is that Snowden’s refused to share any U.S. state secrets with Russian intel. Two: He’s doing this cheerfully, either at Putin’s request as a condition of his asylum or at his own request, to exploit a Putin press conference as a way to further needle the NSA.

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