Hibernator the third
Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.
Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.
My name is Rachel and I'm a scientist who is interested in mental health. I'm bipolar and missed a good chunk of the last couple years on LT because of my mental illness. But with therapy and meds, I'm hoping this year I will be a new person. I'd like to thank all my dedicated supporters last year! You're awesome!
Along with mental illness, I'm also interested in social justice, science, philosophy, and mostly fantasy fiction. I don't know if I'll have time to read 75 books this year or not, so I'm going to have to include picture books, short stories, magazines, and even movies. So this is more of a media thread instead of just a book thread. So book snobs beware!
Media completed January
Media #1: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber (1968) (comments)
Media #2: Doctor Who: The Krotons (1968)(comments)
Media #3 / Book #1 / Mt TBR #1: The New Testament Canon, by Harry Y. Gable(comments)
Media #4 / Book #2 / Mt TBR #2: Fire & Ash, by Jonathan Maberry(comments)
Media #5 / Mt TBR #3: Lesson 1 of The New Testament (The Great Courses, Course Number 656)(comments)
Media #6 / Book #3: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black (comments)
Media completed February
Media #7 / Book #4 / Mt TBR #3: Mr. Monk and Philosophy, by D. E. Wittkower(comments)
Media #8: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)(comments)
Media #9 / Book #5 / Mt TBR #4: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky(comments)
Media #10 / Book #6: The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein, by Minda Webber(comments)
Media #11 / Book #7: I Want my Hat Back, by Jon Klassen(comments)
Media #12 / Book #8: Penguin in Love, by Salina Yoon(comments)
Media #13 / Book #9 / Mt TBR #5: Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon(comments)
Media #14 / Book #10: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor(comments)
Media #15 / Book #11: Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen(comments)
Media #16 / Book #12 / Mt TBR #6: The Rogue Knight, by Brandon Mull(comments)
Media completed March
Media #17 / Book #13 / Mt TBR #7: The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, by Nikolai Gogol(comments)
Media #18 / Book #14: The Daughter of Highland Hall, by Carrie Turansky(comments)
Media #19: Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success. Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803–55.
Media #20: The New Scientist March 7th 2015
Media #21 / Book #15: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!, by Mo Willems
Media #22 / Book #16: Make Way for the Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
Media #23 / Book #17: The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
Media #24 / Book #18: Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
Media Completed in April
Media #25 / Book #19: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
Media #26: The New Scientist March 14th 2015
Media #27: Labyrinth (1986)
Media #28 / Book #20: The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancy
Media #29: King Kong (2005)
Media #30 / Book #21 / Mt TBR #8: Al Capone Does my Homework, by Gennifer Choldenko
Media #31 / Book #22 / Mt TBR #9: The Reason I jump, by Naoki Higashida
Media #32 / Book #23: What Do You Do With an Idea?, by Kobi Yamada
Media #33 / Book #24: Oh the Places You Will Go, by Dr Seuss
Media #34 / Book #25: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
Media #35 / Book #26: There's a Wocket in my Pocket, Dr Seuss
Media #36: Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Media #37 / Book #27: Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Media #38 / Book #28: Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
Media #39 / Book #29: The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
Media #40: Transendence (2014)
Media #41 / Book #30 / TBR #10: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, by Marcus Bork and N. T. Wright
Media #42 / Book #31: Death Note Volume 1: Boredom, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Media #43 / Book #32: Death Note Volume 2: Confluence, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Media #44 / Book #33: Death Note Volume 3: Hard Run, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Media Completed in May
Media #45 / Book #34: Death Note Volume 4: Love, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Media #46: Quantum Leap Season 1 (1989)
Media #47: Avengers: The Age of Ultron (2015)
Media #48 / Book #34 / TBR #11: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
Well, I didn't get much read in the month of March because I just disappeared for the past few weeks! I think a little bit of hypomania (from the bipolar disorder) set in and my brain simply wouldn't process the books properly. It was very frustrating! But I'm reading again now, so all is well. :)
I had some lovely interviews, and have another very-important-interview (potentially final) for a job at Be the Match on Monday. It's a pretty interesting opportunity that I will share more about IF I get the job. So wish me luck!
On the dating front, still up to it! Been out on 3 dates so far, and have another one scheduled for tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to this one. We're going to the Science Museum. And he's a book nerd. Who owns bunnies. Perfect. Well, except for the bunnies. My pets would totally eat his pets. But nobody's perfect.
I don't know if I'll have time to visit everyone's thread this weekend, but I'll try!
Is this your first time reading Soulless?
Oh, yay, you’re still in the running. I hope it goes well!
My pets would totally eat his pets.
Well, you probably shouldn’t let this happen until the second or third date.
Have you stalled out on the Happiness class? I have - haven't looked at it for all of March. I do want to get back to it, though.
Fingers and toes crossed for your interview and your dating adventures. Some of those big ole male rabbits are downright fierce. As a new technician, I was thoroughly terrified by one that I had to take weekly blood samples from. Every time I opened the door, he would come at me pouncing and growling. Those hind claws can be fearsome!
Absolutely adorable photos of the fur people - thanks for sharing.
>6 The_Hibernator: - Oh, kitties abound here! How lovely!
Wishing you a Happy Easter weekend!
And, joy of joys, I found the 4 volumes of Lapham's Quarterly 2013 (Intoxication, Animals, The Sea, and Death) at the Friends of the Library Sale two weeks ago and added them to my $5/bag. They are such a burst of thoughtfulness, intelligence, beauty, and subtlety. I would never have even noticed them had I not just started receiving them.
Yay kitties indeed. We love our two to distraction and it's always wonderful to see other peoples' furkids.
Have a lovely weekend and Easter, Rachel.
I'm sorry you've been struggling with your mood and I'm thrilled that you are continuing to live your life anyway - dating and going on interviews. It takes a strong person with determination to do that. Never give up! Never surrender! That's my motto.
Wishing you a blessed Easter this weekend.
And he's a book nerd. Who owns bunnies. Perfect. Well, except for the bunnies. My pets would totally eat his pets. But nobody's perfect. So true...hahaha!
The best thing about them was they nibbled my mum's clematis vine down to the ground every year, but when we had to give them up that vine bloomed like nobody's business :0)
ETA >14 qebo: but she is on the third date now: so ...?
Trust that your holiday weekend has gone swimmingly. xx
>11 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl! The interview went well, I think, but I won't find out for another week or so just how well it went.
>12 Ameise1: >13 alcottacre: I hope you had a happy Easter too, Barbara and Stasia!
>14 qebo: Thanks Katherine! I think it went well. We'll see in a week or so!
Well, you probably shouldn’t let this happen until the second or third date.
A very good tip. We're having our third date tomorrow and it looks unlikely that our pets will meet this time around. So maybe we're temporarily safe from my pets eating his.
I DID meet his bunnies on Wednesday when we went to Hoppy Hour. This is an event hosted by the Rabbit Companion Society at which people with pet bunnies congregate and let their bunnies all hop around and socialize while they talk baby-talk to any bunny that hops within their reach. It looks kind of like this:
>17 streamsong: Hi Janet!
Have you stalled out on the Happiness class? I have - haven't looked at it for all of March. I do want to get back to it, though.
Well, I wasn't working through the Happiness class very quickly to begin with, so I'm not sure what the definition of stalling is for me. :) I stalled out on reading in general, actually, because I was hypomanic for a while - my brain was buzzing too much to concentrate. But I'm better now and hope to get back to not only the Happiness class but also my beloved books.
Tim's rabbits don't look particularly fierce, but I imagine they can defend themselves against my cats. :)
>18 lkernagh: Hi Lori!
who is that adorable kitty peeking out from under the covers?
That's my younger kitty Othello. She's the one I rescued from a storm drain as a kitten. The cat in >6 The_Hibernator: is Myra, who I adopted as an adult.
>29 The_Hibernator: A guy who goes to bunny rabbit events is probably a keeper. Have you read the article here about bunny rabbit pets?
thank you for turning me onto Lapham's Quarterly. I have the Foreigners volume and am savoring it slowly and thoroughly.
You're welcome. I'm glad that you're enjoying it! My dad and I both love it. :) How exciting and random to find a set of them at the sale! They're something I would have passed by without a second glance a couple of years ago, too. But now we know. ;) Thanks for the wishes! I hope you had a good Easter too.
>20 Morphidae: Hi Morphy! The bunnies, it turns out, are NOT bigger than my cats. But they're big enough to defend themselves.
I'm sorry you've been struggling with your mood and I'm thrilled that you are continuing to live your life anyway - dating and going on interviews. It takes a strong person with determination to do that
Thanks! It's nice to have people who are so supportive of my moods! Really, though, it's not too hard to continue with life when I'm hypomanic. The problem is experiencing too life a little too exuberantly. :) But luckily I'm back down to normal again.
>21 foggidawn: Thanks Foggi!
>22 Ape: Thanks for your support as well, Stephen. As well as the support you give on Yahoo Messenger. If only we could find time to meet there more often!
>23 nittnut: Mmmm. Yum. Thanks for the treat Jenn!
>24 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg! I'm enjoying Quiet a lot. I hope you had a happy Easter, too.
>25 jolerie: Happy Easter to you too, Valerie!
>27 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul! I hope you had a happy weekend as well!
>28 cbl_tn: Thanks for the wishes Carrie! The interview DID go well, and I'll find out how well soon enough. Keep the good vibes coming everyone! :)
>30 norabelle414: Hi Nora! Yeah, it certainly was an interesting experience! :)
>32 banjo123: Hi Rhonda!
Years ago, our neighbors rescued a cat from a drainpipe, and named him....."Drainpipe." You used to be able to hear them call "Drainy, Drainy, Drainy."
That's pretty cute. :)
A guy who goes to bunny rabbit events is probably a keeper.
That's what everyone keeps telling me. :) He's pretty shy so far - I'm having trouble drawing him out. But we'll see what happens with time.
Funny thing is, he texted me that his friend told him: "She didn't run when you told her about Hoppy Hour?! She's a keeper!"
Thanks for the article! I forwarded it to Tim, too.
>33 ronincats: hehe
Media #25 / Book #19: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen; narrated by Juliet Stevenson
Reason for reading: Loved Juliet Stevenson's reading of Sense and Sensibility and thought I'd try out something else of hers. :)
Summary: As a child, sweet-tempered Fanny is adopted by her rich relations and raised as a "lesser" member of the household. But as she grows up, she shows much more sense and perception than her family - leading first to difficulty, but finally to insight and acceptance by her relations.
Review: This is the second time I've "read" this book, the first time was when I was a teenager and didn't really understand the symbolism nor appreciate the romance. (The cousin thing sort of creeped me out.) This time around I really enjoyed the story. And Stevenson's reading is amazing. I want to listen to everything she's narrated now. :)
Media #26: The New Scientist March 14th 2015
An interesting article named "Fake Memories Conjured in Sleep" tells about how a team of scientists implanted a "memory" into the brains of sleeping mice. With experiments, they found a single neuron that fired in response to a particular location in a maze. When that neuron fired while the mouse slept, the scientists also activated the reward center. When the mouse woke up, it made a bee-line for the special location.
Now they're saying how helpful that would be in PTSD. If they just activate the reward system in the brain of people while they're having PTSD nightmares, then wouldn't that make everything all better?
What are they thinking?! Activating the reward centers in response to some horrible trauma? Couldn't that make people WANT to experience trauma, even if it DID help with the nightmares. Very, very bad idea, I say.
Hoppy Hour puts a smile on my face. Bunnies do too.
As cute as bunny rabbits are, they are perfectly capable of defending themselves from attack. Between those teeth that can chew through anything and those flippin' strong legs, they make worthy opponents. ;-)
I love the names of your cats. The fact that Othello is a rescue kitten from a storm drain makes the love in Othello's eyes all that more special.
>40 karenmarie: Yeah, the bunnies put a smile on my face, too, Karen. Though every guy I talk to about this is really creeped out by the bunnies and all the women are like "oooo, how sweet! Bunnies!" So much for trusting your friends about whether a guy is a good one to date. ;)
>41 connie53: Thanks Connie! Yeah, I'm pretty fond of that picture of Othello. I'm pretty fond of the picture of Myra, too, but that's because she's not very photogenic and that's the best picture I've ever gotten of her.
>42 lkernagh: Luckily I didn't have to clean up after the bunnies. :) After meeting the bunnies, I'm rather more worried about the safety (and feelings of safety) of my cats if they ever met. I don't want my pets to feel unsafe in their environment. That's just cruel.
Yeah, I agree, Othello looks very loving in that picture. :)
With that in mind, convincing people that what happened to them (or what they did, say, in war) was "okay" doesn't mean they are going to become some sort of homicidal maniac. And if they are that unhinged that base emotions/reward systems impede their ability to distinguish between right and wrong, then they are probably the type to snap and kill someone as a result of the PTSD anyway.
Basically, if someone is so far gone they are capable of killing someone, then the brain stimulation probably isn't going to change anything, it will just paint out perception of it...on the other hand, it could lessen the fears and anxieties of minor sufferers.
Hoppy Hour sounds like so much fun!
>46 nittnut: Agreed Jen. It's creepy!
>47 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. I imagine there's not much future because of the pets, but I'm not quite done with him yet. He's a pretty nice guy.
>48 souloftherose: Thanks Heather! I'm enjoying the dates a lot. It's fun to date a fellow reader, especially one that's read a lot of the same books as me. The interview went well, but sadly I didn't get the job. I guess I'll just have to try, try again!
>49 PiyushC: Hi Piyush! Thanks for stopping by!
>50 Ape: Maybe you're right. But I still think it's creepy and better left undone. They don't know what they're doing to those mice, who would volunteer for something like that as a human?!
>51 Deern: Hi Nathalie! Thanks a lot for the support. It means a lot. Hoppy Hour WAS a lot of fun. Though maybe it's a little creepy that on Wednesday he told me that his bunny told him to hold hands with me. hahaha
This week I have continued going out with bunny guy - and really enjoy his company. We have a lot in common and he enjoys a lot of the same types of books. :) In bad news, I found out that I did not get the job I was really hoping for, but at least it gave me the feeling that I CAN do this eventually - I just have to keep trying.
I'm working early mornings this weekend, and had my bookclub meeting at noon today with eeblue and katelism. We read 5th Wave for this month and chose the Death Note series for next month.
Happy Sunday and good luck with the bunny guy.
My DD had mini rex rabbits back in jr/senior high school. She never raised them, but did go to rabbit shows and events. The cats were always very respectful and even a bit scared when the rabbits were in the house. Mini Rexes are very small ; you boyfriend's rabbits look full size and I bet they'll do fine around your cats. Baby bunnies would be a different matter.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
Enjoy your bunny-guy. Similar taste in books is a great thing.
Media #28 / Book #20: The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancy
Reason for reading: Bookclub choice for March 2015
Summary: After a brutal 4 waves of alien invasion, Cassie wanders the forest wondering if she's the last human alive. But she soon realizes that the 5th wave is worse than them all, because it attacks humans at the root of what they are.
Review: This was a good book, but it was a bit over-hyped, and I wish it were a standalone rather than a series. I found the characters well-written, and the concept of the first 4 waves very interesting - they weren't just normal waves of aliens coming down and attacking people in combat, they were much more subtle than that. The subtleness is what separates this book from other alien invasion books. I'll probably read the sequel, but I'm not rushing out to do it.
I DO appreciate a good YA novel that isn't Dystopia or vampire romance, however. Thank goodness for that much originality.
Wishing you a happy weekend, Rachel!
>62 streamsong: Hi Janet! Thanks for the support! Problem about the bunnies is that I'm just as concerned for the "mental health" of my own cats as of his bunnies. They might be scared of the bunnies, too. And animals should be in an environment where they feel safe.
>63 humouress: Thanks for the support humouress and Rhonda.
>66 jolerie: You're welcome Valerie. I hope you enjoy the book!
>67 lkernagh: Hi Lori! Thanks for the support!
Happy weekend, Rachel!
>71 msf59: Thanks Barbara! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too.
>73 PiyushC: Hi Piyush. Actually, I rather liked Transcendence. Yes, I suppose it was a bit pretentious, but it also had some things that made me think.
>74 connie53: Happy weekend Connie!
>75 banjo123: Happy weekend to you, too, Rhonda!
Media #30 / Book #21 / Mt TBR #8: Al Capone Does my Homework, by Gennifer Choldenko
Reason for reading: Autism April
Summary:Set on Alcatraz island in 1936, Moose Flanagan's lives with his parents and sister (who has autism before autism was a diagnosis). Moose's father has just become the associate warden, and Moose feels that he needs to protect his father from the criminals who are always out to get the wardens. When tragedy strikes the family, and Moose's sister is blamed, Moose and his friends set out to clear her name.
Review: This was another adorable book from the Moose Flanagan / Alcatraz Island series. I enjoyed it pretty much as well as the first one in the series, Al Capone Does my Shirts. The writing is fast-paced enough to keep my interest, but set at a reasonable pace for a 5th grader to easily keep up with. The historical aspect of the series, as well as the autistic character, are educational to kids. Definitely a series I recommend for kids and adults to read.
Media #31 / Book #22 / Mt TBR #9: The Reason I jump, by Naoki Higashida
Reason for reading: Autism April
Summary:Written by an autistic teenager in Japan, this book is an interesting list of questions and answers about living with autism.
Review: This book isn't like other books about autism. Most books written by autistic people are either written by people who were always high functioning or people who have overcome their past and become high functioning. This book was written by a lower functioning teen who was able to communicate through a computer program...he seems less capable of communicating orally. It was a fascinating little book with a lot of insight into how to react to autistic people - and how to help them to be emotionally happier individuals. The point that was repeated over and over was "Don't give up. We feel miserable when you give up. We really ARE trying, sometimes we can't control our actions." That said, I do have a few qualms about the book. It does read like it was written by a teenager - which is better than to be expected. It also generalizes the author's reasons for doing things as if it is the reason all autistic people do things. But other autistic people might have different reasons for feel differently about certain aspects. This should be taken as an insightful view into one autistic teen's world, but it should be generalized with caution. Not that I totally disapprove of generalization. Just don't assume everything he says is true about everybody, as he implies in his book.
Well, nothing too exciting has happened in Rachel's Real World. I had a lot of working woes - mostly to do with my staff not acting responsible. I got the tires of my bike pumped up FINALLY, so I'm eager to get in some riding and lose that winter weight. Instead of training for a triathlon this year, I'm going to train for a 100 mile bike ride. I think that will take less time, and I'm a pretty busy girl right now. Comic Con is in town this weekend, and I'm SOOO jealous that I don't get to go. I'll have to work a little tomorrow and also on Sunday, but I'll hang out with Tim (the bunny guy) afterwards on Saturday - I think we're going to go to an arcade. And I'll work on cleaning my home on Sunday after work. Right now, I'm hanging out at the crisis hotline center, waiting for someone in crisis to text in.
Unfortunately there's a bright window in the background. :(
Glad to hear you've been doing well, Rachel. Way to go with the bike training. Cheering you on from the sideline as I'm trying to get rid of weight carryover from 2 pregnancies. Dang it! ;)
Rachel, I wish you a nice weekend. No photo today due to my leaving for holiday tomorrow.
Good luck my dear. xx
>86 The_Hibernator: Oh my goodness. He's cute.
>83 The_Hibernator: Triathlons and 100 mile bike rides. Wish I could join you (really?) but I think I'll be on the sidelines with the rest of the gang, cheering you on.
>85 The_Hibernator: So sad. I don't know how you manage it. You're doing good work there.
>86 The_Hibernator: Cute! I see he's been eating dessert ;0)
>87 jolerie: Me too, Val. Um ... does it still count after 6 years?
>96 Donna828: I've just had the tyres pumped and cleaned the bike up a few weeks ago (things deteriorate fast in this climate). I don't want to give the bike away, because the kids and I only got bikes a couple of years ago ... and I'm still harbouring hopes that I'll use it someday soon.
>96 Donna828: Well, there are audio books; but on second thoughts, probably not the safest thing to do
#36 - I have to second your comments about Juliet Stevenson. Have just finished Sense and Sensibility and she's my favorite when it comes to Jane Austen. And her reading of Jane Eyre - well, perfection.
I'm trying to decide if I should slow-release my posts to you so that you can read what I've been going through, or if I should just start from now. I think I'll compromise by slow-releasing some of my more important posts.
That's my brand new niece Leilani. I think she's criticizing someone's outfit. :)
This has been an incredibly busy month for me. I started my second class of the semester (now I'm taking Abnormal Psychology and an EMT certification class). These, together with my full time job in a nursing home and my volunteer work at a crisis hotline, keep me feeling pretty darned overwhelmed.
My EMT class is a lot of information. As of yet, I'm not keeping up with the reading in the 2000 page text at all, but I'm bumbling along in the class regardless. I am now CPR/AED certified for infants/children/adults. That's a nice feeling. I think everyone should know how to save a life in this way.
In Abnormal Psychology I have taken my first test and got the highest score in the class. I give my blogging complete credit for that score. Writing blog posts about my psychology class is the best studying I've ever done in my life. If only I could do the same thing with my EMT text without boring you all silly. This month's Abnormal Psychology posts are:
Definition of Abnormal
A History of Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal Psychology in Contemporary Society
Contemporary Viewpoints on Treating Mental Illness - Biology
Contemporary Viewpoints on Treating Mental Illness - Psychology
Frontline: New Asylums
Brave New Films: This is Crazy
I am currently reading or listening to:
In anticipation of Riverview Theater's yearly showing of the movie Serenity (proceeds benefit Equality Now), my boyfriend and I watched the TV series Firefly. If you haven't watched this show, you need to.
In this story, created by Joss Whedon, humans have moved from an overpopulated Earth to a galaxy with many planets. A totalitarian government called the Alliance rules.
The plot follows a spaceship called Serenity, with a crew of scavengers and smugglers operating on the outskirts of society. They visit undeveloped worlds where people live in an interesting fusion of Eastern culture and the Old West.
To appear more "respectable" the crew pick up some passengers, inadvertently welcoming a man with a secret the Alliance will do anything to hide. During the rest of the season, the crew wrestle with their moral obligations to keep the man safe and their self-protective desire to get as far away from him as possible.
Filled witty repertoire, action, and irony this show appeals to fans of science fiction, westerns, and humor.
In one of my favorite scenes, a hard-ass mercenary character - Jayne Cobb - spends the entire episode wearing a ridiculous knitted hat from his mom. In a touching and hilarious scene, Jayne opens a package from his mom and haltingly reads a letter from her. When he gets to the phrase "the enclosed" he exclaims "Ooooh!" and gleefully reaches into the package to bring out the hideous hat. He gives it a strange look, and then puts it on his head with a huge smile. The crew tried to keep straight faces and compliment the hat. One said "A man walks down the street wearing that hat, you know he's not afraid of anything."
I'm hesitant to put up a picture of Jayne wearing the hat, because I don't want to post any pictures that might be copyrighted. You can always Google it if you want to see it. But here's a picture of my boyfriend at the Serenity showing dressed up as Jayne.
By December of the year aired, Firefly had 98th in Nielson rating. Despite this success, it was canceled half-way through the season. Apparently it had some problems with Fox. Fox wanted the main character, Mal, to be more jolly and less dark. Frankly, I believe that would have ruined the atmosphere of the show. Also, Fox was not happy that the show focused on "nobodies" who get "squashed by policies."
5 snowflakes for sheer awesomeness
After the show was canceled, it gained a cult following. These avid fans demanded to know how the story ended. Thus, the movie Serenity was released.
Although this movie kept the dark action and philosophical questions, it lacks the humor of the TV show. Also, I doubt the movie would make any sense to someone who hasn't seen the show. Despite these disappointments, I enjoy the movie and would be happy to see it any number of times.
4 snowflakes for plot, characterization, and action
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about the futility of seeking immortality. It's a journey of self-discovery in which Gilgamesh learns the ultimate truth - every human dies. It follows Gilgamesh, king of the ancient city of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia. As a youth, Gilgamesh was a capricious and domineering king. He deflowered the maidens, bullied the children and elderly, and forced labor on the men. His people prayed to the gods that they would send respite. So the gods formed the magnificent wild-man Enkidu out of clay. Enkidu fought in mighty hand-to-hand combat with Gilgamesh. When they found themselves nearly equal in strength, they embraced and became dear friends.
Gilgamesh found entertainment and love in his new friend, and left the people of Uruk alone. But the two unearthly men soon became bored. They decided that they wanted to earn immortality by achieving great feats - or at least die trying. Rash youths, they glorified death, thinking it would immortalize them.
First, they set out to defeat the beast Humbaba, whom the god Enlil had appointed protector of the forest. Once conquered, Humbaba begged for mercy. But the two youths, mistaking death for victory, chopped off his head and then downed many of the huge trees Humbaba had protected.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu certainly made an impression, because upon returning to Uruk, Ishtar, the fertility goddess, fell in love with Gilgamesh. In his blood-glory, Gilgamesh scorned the love of Ishtar, who ran to daddy and pouted and screamed until her father loaned her the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh.
The Bull brought famine and drought. He drank the Euphrates in a few gulps. He snorted, and the earth cracked before him. But Gilgamesh and Enkidu were in a blood-lust fury. They tore the Bull apart, and Enkidu threw the shank of the Bull at Ishtar claiming he'd tear her limb from limb if only she'd come down from the wall. Then Gilgamesh and Enkidu rode through the streets exclaiming: "Who is the most magnificent hero? Gilgamesh is! Enkidu is!"
With these two "victories" over death, Gilgamesh and Enkidu fancied themselves equal to the gods. But they soon found themselves sorely wrong. The gods punished the two by giving Enkidu a wasting illness. Before, they had glorified death as a path to immortality. But now they were standing face-to-face with death, and they were appalled by what they saw. To slowly die breath by breath? Humiliating! The loss of life, of friendship, of love? Tragic!
Gilgamesh could not face the reality of his friend's death; refusing burial until maggots fell out of Enkidu's nose. Then Gilgamesh melted down. He realized that he is human - and humans die. And death is not glorious. It leads to rot and decay. This was the second stage of Gilgamesh's folly: he no longer saw death as a path to immortality, nor did he see it as a natural part of life. To Gilgamesh, death was an enemy who must be defeated.
Gilgamesh wrapped himself in the bloody skins of a lion and roamed the earth trying to hide from death. He became increasingly more violent and insane. In one passage, he found a boat that would take him to a man-god who Gilgamesh thought could advise him on becoming immortal. But instead of asking the boatman to ferry him across the lake to Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh furiously destroyed everything in sight. Having shown his power, he then demanded the boatman ferry him. But the boatman told him "How can I? You have destroyed the tools I need to do that."
Everyone Gilgamesh talked to on his journey told him the same thing - death is inevitable. You are wasting your life in futility. But he would not listen.
He finally reached Utnapishtim and asked the man-god how he had become immortal. Utnapishtim related the story of an annihilating flood which killed all but him, his family, and the animals he brought on his ship with him. Realizing the horror that they had empowered, the gods rewarded Utnapishtim with god-hood - promising never again to destroy the inhabitants of earth. But, Utnapishtim assured, the gods would never again grant immortality. Death was now the inevitable finale of life.
Gilgamesh was relentless, so Utnapishtim challenged him to fight death's younger brother sleep for only seven days. Gilgamesh reclined and immediately fell asleep from exhaustion. He slept for 7 days before Utnapishtim woke him.
Defeated in the realization that death could not be overcome, Gilgamesh prepared for his journey home. He bathed, anointed his body with oils, and donned civilized clothes. He was now willing to face death as a man. But there was one more lesson Gilgamesh had to learn before returning to his kingdom.
As a parting consolation prize, Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh that at the bottom of the lake lay a plant that would return youth to whomever ate it. Gilgamesh dove into the lake and retrieved the plant. Instead of eating it right away, Gilgamesh decided to take it back to Uruk. In his hand, he finally clutched a tiny morsel of immortality, something that would allow him to return to Uruk wise and youthful. Yet he hesitated.
While on his return journey, Gilgamesh stopped by a lake and bathed. He carelessly placed the plant on the shore. Of course, the plant was stolen by a passing snake, which sloughed its skin and slithered youthfully into the ground.
Thus Gilgamesh realized that his entire quest for immortality - from the glory-seeking of his youth, to the insane grasping for godhood, to his desperate clutching at the comfort of youth - was in vain. He returned to Uruk an introspective, wise king. This elderly Gilgamesh finally attained a form of immortality: he built temples, halls, and the great wall of Uruk (parts of which have been found by archaeologists today). He brought prosperity to the city.
My one lingering question after writing this analytical summary is why did Gilgamesh hesitate to eat the plant? Was it his final folly to hesitate? Or was this hesitation encouraged by his new-found wisdom? I can't decide.
There are so many things to say about The Epic of Gilgamesh, and I had big plans for this post. But I see now that there's no way to give even a small portion of Gilgamesh's due in one post. So I will break this into a series of posts. More is yet to come. If you have anything specific you'd like me to discuss, let me know.
I just read all your blog posts. I thought they were very interesting. I've been doing some reading on the subject myself and I know for sure that there is an appalling lack of effective mental health care. You would think, with all the money they spend on keeping the mentally ill in prison, they could fund quite a few supported living facilities. Sigh.
The last book I read was The Price of Silence. I've added Crazy: A Father's Search to the list. I will look forward to seeing your thoughts on it. I
Also, the fact that Fox thinks it has a right to ban people from making generic woolen hats is just depressing. Seriously. If you want to copyright something, you need to make it a bit more distinct. Let's just copyright blue jeans too. I CLAIM BLUE JEANS! Because I took a selfie with them no one can ever wear them ever again! Bwahahaha!
An indie video game by a Youtuber I watch was harassed with lawsuits because they used "Fallout" in their name, and another video game decided that since they have "fallout" in their name no one else can use it. You know, because apparently you can own words now and ban everyone else from using them. Ugh.
Oh, and, um, HI RACHEL! :)
>109 nittnut: Hi Jenn! I just finished The Biology of Desire and enjoyed it quite a bit - though I don't entirely agree with his thesis that the disease model of addiction has outlived its usefulness. I'll have to check out The Price of Silence. Sounds like it's getting pretty mixed reviews. What did you think of it? Thanks for reading all my blog posts!
>110 Ape: There's my buddy Stephen!!!! I agree, it's silly for them to think they can copyright a generic woolen hat - though they do have SOME right to claim the name "Cobb hat." On the other hand, why are the complaining about free advertising? Silly, silly FOX.
>111 banjo123: Hi Rhonda! Yeah, I've been pretty busy, though this week I decided that enough was enough and I decided to drop the EMT class until next semester. I'll continue with my job, volunteer work, and the Abnormal Psychology class, though. I realized (luckily on time) that I had over-committed.
>112 Ameise1: Thanks for stopping by with the lovely picture Barbara!
>113 xymon81: Hi Matthew! Firefly takes so very little time commitment that it should definitely be thrown in ASAP. :)
>114 lkernagh: Hi Lori! Yeah, I think Firefly and Serenity are pretty good. I'll probably do the whole Firefly/Serenity marathon again next year.
The Blank Slate, by Stephen Pinker; narrated by Victor Bevine
In The Blank Slate, Pinker outlines three dogmas that he says are the prevailing views of human nature in modern philosophy:
1) The blank slate, in which the mind has no innate (genetic) properties and, as John Watson boasted, through conditioning you could train a child to become anybody you want her to become.
2) The noble savage, in which people are born good, and society forms them into deviants. Pinker suggested that Rousseau was a strong proponent of this theory, but according to Wikipedia (which is always accurate), Rousseau never used this term.
3) The ghost in the machine, in which people's choices are solely dependent upon their soul.
Personally, I'm a little skeptical that these are the dominant views of most scholars of human nature. I'm sure there are quite a few people who believe quite firmly in a genetic component to behavior, as Pinker does. But perhaps I'm biased because I'm a biologist and not a psychologist.
Pinker provides evidence that these three dogmas are false, and that there is a strong genetic drive in human behavior.
The first section in The Blank Slate that really caught my attention was the one on racism. He brings up the controversial book The Bell Curve, by Richard J Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Much to the dismay of the politically correct (I'm sure), Pinker suggests that Herrnstein's data are correct and that African Americans have a lower IQ than white people, and that this difference is at least partly genetic. He says that the reason people are so horrified by The Bell Curve is due to their fear of inequality. That it is not racist to report such data - what is racist is to judge someone solely upon that data and not upon the person's demonstrated abilities.
Pinker also suggests that we only fear inequality when bigotry on the subject already exists. For instance, there is another set of studies in which height and IQ are positively correlated. He points out that no one frets about those studies, because there isn't an already existing negative bias about short people.
I was originally offended by Pinker's thoughts on racism, but then I realized that at some level, at least, he is correct. I don't like the data because it implies something that I don't want to believe. I still cringe at the data presented in The Bell Curve, and I like to think there was some bias in the studies which led to incorrect results. That Herrnstein and Murray were terrible racists who should be shunned from academia. But Pinker managed to sew a seed of doubt.
More interesting sections were those on violence and rape. Pinker suggests that both violence and rape are part of human nature. He says that most people cringe at this concept because we believe that anything that is "human nature" must be good. But why do we believe that? Are we all proponents of "the noble savage" dogma?
In the section on rape, Pinker references Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer's book A Natural History of Rape. This book posits that rape is motivated by sexual and aggressive urges, not upon a male desire to dominate females (as many feminists claim). Personally, I have no problem believing that rape is motivated by sex and violence and not by male domination. In fact, it never occurred to me that men rape women for the purpose of oppressing them. Is this really a currently common belief? I guess I should follow the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter more. Perhaps that would educate me on this subject. If you follow that hastag, please let me know your thoughts.
This brings us into Pinker's section on the genetic differences between women and men. Pinker points out that it is not sexist to suggest that there are genetic (and therefore emotional as well as physical) differences between women and men. There are two kinds of feminism: gender feminism and equity feminism. Gender feminists believe that the male and female "roles" are determined by society and not by genetics. Pinker argues that these roles are genetically driven - that girls naturally want to play with dolls and boys naturally want to roughhouse. He points out that although his beliefs are contrary to gender feminism, they are compatible with equity feminism, in which women and men deserve civil and legal equality. Pinker says that most modern women don't consider themselves feminists because they equate "feminism" with gender feminism. That most women are equity feminists, they just don't know it.
In fact, that's true of me. I always considered myself "not a feminist" because I believe that my feminine qualities are naturally derived and not societally derived. Now I know that I am a feminist. :)
Overall, I found this book fascinating. I didn't think I was going to agree with Pinker...especially when I first started the book. But he presented some pretty good arguments. One problem I did have with the book, though, is how arrogant Pinker is. Instead of saying "I will now provide evidence that..." he says "I will now prove..."
He also makes an off-putting comment that poked a pet peeve of mine. He says that any scientist that believes in the three prevailing dogmas of human nature should be as skeptical of evolution as the Pope. I guess I've never asked the Pope his personal opinions of evolution, but being a Roman Catholic, I know that evolution is quite acceptable in the Church. If you don't know anything about what Catholics believe, then don't write about them.
This is a pet peeve of mine because I've had people tell me: "I know about Catholics because I've read about them. If you don't believe insert false belief here then you aren't a very good Catholic." Someone literally said that to me (where the inserted false belief was that mother Mary is divine). It is ignorant statements by otherwise intelligent and educated people like Pinker that make well-read people think they know more about my religion than I do.
That aside, I still recommend the book. :)
4.5 snowflakes for fascinating subject, good research, and writing style
History of the epic
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest epic still in existence. Coming from the third millennium BCE, it predates Homer's epics by at least one and a half thousand years. It is from a time long forgotten by historians - only rediscovered in the last century by archaeologists in the Middle East. The fascinating part about the Epic of Gilgamesh is that even though it is 5 millennia old the humanity and passion of the story still resonate with readers today.
The most complete version of Gilgamesh yet discovered is a series of eleven tablets in the Akkadian language found in the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. Ashurbanipal (668-627 BCE) was a great king of the Assyrian empire and a collector of literature from all over the Middle East. His library disappeared after the fall of Nineveh in 612 BCE, and was uncovered by archaeologists in 1839. The tablets were transferred to the British Museum where they received little attention until 1873, when a scholar named George Smith realized that they included an account of the flood (recounted in the Bible as the story of Noah's ark). This announcement set off an immediate sensation because it suggested that the authors of the Bible might have been familiar with Gilgamesh's story (though possibly both versions come from an earlier source). After this discovery, archaeologists dug up more and more tablets and scholars busied themselves with translations. Unfortunately, some of the tablets are fragmented, and the story has to be pieced together from different versions. This leaves the story very open to interpretation.
Who was Gilgamesh?
The character of Gilgamesh is thought to be based on a real king of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk (Erech in the Bible). The historical Gilgamesh probably raised up the famous walls of Uruk, described in glorious detail in the epic. The walls had a 6 mile perimeter and more than nine hundred towers. Its ruins are near the town of Warka, in southern Iraq. Archaeologists date parts of the wall to around 2700 BCE, so they believe Gilgamesh may have lived around then. According to the "Sumerian king list," Gilgamesh was the fifth king of the founding dynasty of Uruk.
Gilgamesh was clearly a great builder - not only building the great wall, but also restoring the shrine of the goddess Ninlil. He very likely led a successful expedition to retrieve timber from the lands to the North - a story which was related in the epic.
Reason for reading: Interest, TBR pile
Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
What can I say about Game of Thrones that hasn't already been said? I'm not even sure how to summarize it properly because there is so much that would be left out. But, briefly, Lord Eddard Stark is swept up into a web of conspiracy when he is suddenly demanded to go to the capital city to be the Hand of the King. He must protect his family, his honor, and the king from enemies - and everyone is an enemy.
This is a sweeping epic that jumps from character to character to weave an intricate web of plots, subplots, and sub-sub-plots. The characters are heartbreakingly well developed - and I say heartbreakingly because you fall in love with the "good" ones and hate the "bad ones." As each character gets thrown into his or her own trap, your heart aches for them. None of the characters are all good or all bad - they're very human. This is not Tolkien. It's not a happy story where the good guys always prevail and only a few people die - and that for the sake of heroism. People die left and right. And they don't necessarily die heroic deaths - they die because that's what happens in the game of thrones. It's as bloody and horrifying as the War of the Roses. And I think that's what makes the book so good: it's a story about human nature and the struggle between power and honor.
Usually I drag my feet reading long books. No matter how good a book is, it's hard because I'm such a slow reader that I feel I'm not making progress. Not so with this book. This book was so smooth that I barely noticed the length. I didn't want it to end. As soon as it ended, I bought the rest of the series so I could start them right away. But this book was also a very difficult read for me. There's so much sorrow in Game of Thrones. The reality of the suffering attenuates the escapism that one usually feels when reading epic fantasy. And yet I couldn't stop myself from reading. I was too invested in the characters - both the likable and the detestable ones.
5 snowflakes for sheer awesomeness, intrigue, plot, unexpectedness, character development, world building, battle scenes
Reason for reading: Interest, TBR Pile
I DID do my 100 mile ride, and it was a delight. I really enjoy the area up there next to the headwaters of the Mississippi. It's so lovely.
Tim and I have not yet resolved the bunny/cat issue. We simply have not introduced them. I'm a little worried, though, since my cat has progressively been bringing home more and more dead bunnies lately, and she's getting into the habit of dropping bunny heads at my feet (perhaps because that's the best part of the bunny?!).
You didn't miss any big reveals, I think. :) I've been gone quite a while.
Great to see you back and posting.
As for Game of Thrones, I got to the end of the first book and my favourite characters had been killed off, and by the end of the second, even the kids seemed to be getting wiped out. At which point I gave up :0) I'm not sure there'll be any humans left in a couple of books. Winter is coming.
Happy weekend, Rachel! I hope it's lots of fun.
Hope you made it to see The Martian. I haven't read the book, but enjoyed the movie last night. Someday I'll get to the book. :-)
I would love to hear more about your bike ride.
Hmmmm GOT books. One of our post-docs got me hooked on the TV series, but Netflix DVD's has left me hanging after season 4. If possible, she loves the books even more. And there's a long Montana winter ahead - in other words - WINTER IS COMING - bwahhahaha
>122 foggidawn: Yeah, Foggi, I've been wondering the same thing. She didn't used to be so brutal. I mean, cats are cats, but she's a small cat and hadn't been catching smallish adult bunnies in the past. I know she still wouldn't be able to take on Tim's bunnies, but I'm still concerned about the fur flying. And I'm afraid Tim is much more sensitive to little scratches that his bunnies might get than I am about small injuries to my cats. Not that I'm heartless, but cats are kind of like little boys (or for that matter any age boy) in that way, aren't they?
>123 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! It's always a pleasure to see you on my thread! I know you're really busy this year and aren't posting as much. We all have those years. Every year is THAT year for me.
>124 humouress: :) You're funny Nina. I've heard plenty of complaints about all the characters being killed off. I've decided to consider it an "epic" sort of like those family epics in which you progress through many births and deaths. That way, I won't be too disappointed when my favorite characters are killed off. I don't know how quickly I'll be able to get through the books, I'm generally not very good about reading series quickly.
>125 banjo123: Rhonda, another thing I already knew before starting the series is that it wasn't finished. So luckily I won't be surprised when I reach the end.
>126 evilmoose: Yeah, Megan, one of my cats (Myra) is a scardy cat, and I'm worried that she'll be living in terror if I ever move in with Tim. The other cat (Othello) has a need to exert dominance over anybody that she can. That not only includes Myra, who is much larger than Othello, and who WAS dominant when Othello was a kitten, but also my nephew back when he was 8 AND my 16 month old nephew. There was kind of a funny scene yesterday when the 16 month old, Bryant, picked up a "gift" and haltingly edged his way closer and closer to Othello with hopes of getting to pet her. Othello eventually hissed and walked away. Of course, had the "gift" been a treat, Bryant's attempt might have worked better.
>127 xymon81: I'll definitely stick with GOT, Matthew, though I imagine I'll start moving more slowly through the books now that I've already put Clash of Kings aside in the middle of the book (only temporarily while I finished some books for a reading challenge). I wouldn't have been able to put Game of Thrones aside.
>128 streamsong: Hi Janet! My hope is that I will be able to read The Martian next month and that the movie will still be in the theater at that time. It's always more fun to read the book first. Of course, if I don't get to the book on time, I'll head out to the theater regardless.
The GOT TV series is very good, though, again, I'm trying to read the books first. We'll see how long that lasts.
Actually, it's been two weeks since my last update, but that's ok since I haven't gotten many books read and no reviews.
I managed to finish a beta-read for a friend. It is a YA fantasy, and was pretty good. Though the author isn't experienced at reading YA fantasy, so I'm wondering why he chose that genre. The story is good, though nothing particularly novel. I'll probably leave that comment out of my critique, since it won't help him to improve the book any. I can say it here because he's not on LT.
I also finished:
And I watched:
As for my RL, I got a bit burnt out on all the activities I've been participating in as described in message >102 The_Hibernator:. In summary, I'd been working full time, volunteering 4 hours a week at a crisis hotline, taking a 3 credit Abnormal Psychology class as well as a 7 credit EMT class. When I first signed up for the EMT class, I hadn't realized it was 7 credits (that wasn't mentioned on the class description), so I didn't realize how hard it would be. After a couple weeks of it, I got so burnt out that I got really sick - this was last week.
I decided to drop the EMT class, and they were kind enough to let my tuition transfer to next semester. I will NOT sign up for another class - so I'll be able to focus on the EMT class in January.
Then on Monday, I had a 3 hour anxiety attack. I'm not sure how many of you have had anxiety attacks before, but they aren't supposed to last that long. It's sort of like running a marathon for 3 hours. This happened at work, and because I'm the manager I didn't have a boss I could call in and be like "oh, gotta go home." I simply had to finish the work. It was an exhausting day. The next day, I freaked out on my boyfriend for no reason at all, and then when I was trying to sleep I felt like a screaming monster was trying to claw its way out of my brain. That's when I realized I was in a bipolar mixed state.
Bipolar mixed states have characteristics of both depression and mania. They're very dangerous because they have suicidal ideation mixed with impulsivity, motivation, and energy. Mixed state people are much more likely to commit suicide than a depressed person, because they often lack the energy and impulsivity, motivation, and energy to commit suicide.
Yesterday, I called my psychiatrist but I got stuck in the labyrinthine maze of monsters that is the Park Nicollet phone reception system. One of the monsters even hung up on me, and I had to proceed to "go" without collecting my $200. By the time I got through to the nurse (an hour later), I was rather worked up. She calmly told me that this is not a crisis line, and I should call Crisis Connection (where, by the way, I volunteer). I practically yelled at her that I didn't want a crisis hotline, I wanted to talk to my psychiatrist. She made an appointment for me to see her later that afternoon. I also made an emergency appointment with my therapist, who I haven't seen since March.
In the end, my psychiatrist tweaked my mood stabilizer and gave me a prescription to Klonopin, which is a benzodiazepine - an addictive sedative. I'm a little worried since addiction runs in my family and when I start getting symptoms of mania (or apparently mixed symptoms) I start craving alcohol, pain meds, and other such things. I'm not much of drinker and I'm not in the habit of taking unprescribed pain meds, but I crave them all the same. So getting permission to take a benzodiazepine is a little troubling to me. However, I recognize that I need it in situations like those described earlier in my post.
On a happier note, I was able to go to the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College on Tuesday and Wednesday. The theme was addiction, and my Abnormal Psychology prof took a bunch of his students. There were 6 speakers and they were all really interesting. One of the speakers was Marc Lewis, the author of The Biology of Desire, which I just finished. It turns out Mark Lewis is a bit annoying, though, because he kept trying to push his point (that addiction is a choice and not a disease), until the 2000 Nobel Prize Laureate Eric Kandel told him "it's either bullshit or science." Another speaker, Carl Hart, who is big on social justice, tried to break the tension by saying "I didn't know we could swear at this conference!" And then the next day during Hart's speech he said "and to quote Dr Kandel, this is bullshit!" It was a pretty amusing conference. Of course, the science was really interesting too, but I plan on writing a review both of the conference and of Biology of Desire, so I'll stop here.
Hopefully you all had a good week! Happy Friday!
1. The New Testament Canon, by Harry Y. Gamble
2. Fire & Ash, by Jonathan Maberry
3. Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
4. Mr. Monk and Philosophy, by D. E. Wittkower
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
6. The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein, by Minda Webber
7. Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
9. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
10. Rogue Knight, by Brandon Mull
11. The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, by Nikolai Gogol
12. The Daughter of Highland Hall, by Carrie Turansky
13. Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
14. The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey
15. Al Capone Does my Homework, by Gennifer Choldenko
16. The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida
17. The Meaning of Jesus, by Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright
18. Death Note Volume 1: Boredom, by Tsugumi Obha
19. Death Note Volume 2: Confluence, by Tsugumi Obha
20. Death Note Volume 3: Hard Run, by Tsugumi Obha
21. Death Note Volume 4: Love, by Tsugumi Obha
22. Death Note Volume 5: Whiteout, by Tsugumi Obha
23. Death Note Volume 6: Give-and-Take, by Tsugumi Obha
24. Death Note Volume 7: Zero, by Tsugumi Obha
25. The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey
14. The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong
15. Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
16. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
17. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
18. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
19. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien
20. The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by N. K. Sandars
21. Gilgamesh, adapted by Stephen Mitchell
22. The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien
23. The Return of the King, by J. R. R. Tolkien
24. The Norton Critical Edition of Gilgamesh, by Benjamin R. Foster
25. Death Note Volume 8: Target, by Tsugumi Obha
26. The Blank Slate, by Stephen Pinker
27. Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett
28. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
29. Crazy, by Pete Early
30. The Biology of Desire, by Marc Lewis
31. beta read of "Aurix," by D. J. Schuette
32. Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake
33. Let Me in, by John Ajdive Lindqvist
34. Blood Child and Other Stories, by Octavia E. Butler
35. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon
36. Carmilla: A Vampyre Tale, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Knights of Badassdom (2013)
In the spirit of the Halloween season, I watched The Knights of Badassdom with my boyfriend. As expected, it was both cheesy and hilarious. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, here is the YouTube official trailer. In summary, Joe is an intelligent underachiever who lives with his accidental millionaire friend in a castle. When Joe is dumped by his long-time girlfriend, his friends decide it would be a great distraction to kidnap Joe. He wakes up at a LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) expedition at the "Fields of Evermore" (a large parking lot near a forested park). There, an "epic battle" is about to take place. It's all going pretty well until Joe's sorcerer friend accidentally summons a succubus that looks exactly like Joe's ex-girlfriend. The succubus wanders around the forest attacking LARPers, who mistake her for a lost LARPer soul who has stumbled upon the "wrong" LARPing event. Joe and his friends must send the succubus back to hell.
This movie is exactly what you would expect from the summary. It's silly. It's funny (if you "get" LARP). And it's gory, but only in a humorous way. One of Joe's friends is played by Peter Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame). Yes everyone. You can stream this on Netflix.
For humor, originality, and quality LARPing
>117 The_Hibernator: Hooray for Gilgamesh!
Also, I think it's totally normal for your cat to be a murderous psychopath. Now, if she begins showing signs of compassion or unconditional love you may commence fearing for your life.
>136 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara!
>137 Ape: I've recovered well enough, Stephen. I'm still a little tired, but I'm back to studying, blogging, and reading - which is a good sign. And my cat loves me very much, thank-you.
The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Narrated by Rob Inglis
Caution: There will be spoilers!
A couple of months ago I had the immense pleasure of listening to the Rob Inglis narrations of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. If you ever have the slightest wish to listen to these books, just do it. Inglis' voices are fantastic; he even sings the songs! It was a true delight.
A humble hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is unwillingly thrown into a "nasty adventure" when the wizard Gandalf thrusts himself into Bilbo's home, a troop of dwarves in his wake. Gandalf has misinformed the dwarves that Bilbo is a burglar - the dwarves want Bilbo to burgle a gigantic horde of treasure from the dragon Smaug, who had stolen the treasure (with their mountain kingdom) from the dwarves' ancestors decades before. This is a strange coming-of-age story, since the character is 50 years old already (which is youngish for a hobbit, but still firmly in the adult range). But as the story progresses, Bilbo recognizes that he is a brave hobbit, an adventuresome hobbit, and a very sneaky burglar.
The Hobbit was Tolkien's first major work about Middle Earth, and although it is an excellent book on its own, it is unfortunately overshadowed by his later work The Lord of the Rings. Although LOTR is a sequel to The Hobbit, these two books are very different styles. The Hobbit was intended for children, and therefore has a light-hearted, almost silly air to it. The songs tend to be funny and childish rather than somber and chilling, as in LOTR. An example is when the dwarves are teasing Bilbo with the song:
Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates—
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!
Another factor of the young audience is that the characters in the book are much more silly than they are in the live-action movies. (I will discuss the movies in a later post.) A striking example is of Thorin's character, who in the book is silly and long-winded, but who in the movie is dark and romantic (not to mention quite handsome).
The spider scene in the movie is dark and scary. Bilbo is heroic and rescues his friends through cleverness and brave swordsmanship. In the book, he swings through the trees singing a silly song that diverts the spiders' attention.
Old fat spider spinning in a tree!
Old fat spider can't see me!
Won't you stop,
Stop your spinning and look at me!
Old Tomnoddy, all big body,
Old Tomnoddy can't spy me!
Down you drop!
You'll never catch me up your tree!
After dragging the spiders off on a wild goose chase, Bilbo is able to return to his friends and cut them down from the webs.
The themes in The Hobbit also tend to be a bit black and white - probably for the sake of the young audience. There is a clear good and evil. The good characters always end up choosing mercy and righteousness over power and wealth. (Though, there is a bit of wealth to go around!) As in any good book, there are momentary shades of grey. Thorin, who is otherwise quite honorable, is temporarily blinded by greed - though he eventually redeems himself.
An interesting fact that I found out while researching this review is that J. R. R. Tolkien changed The Hobbit after writing LOTR in order to better fit with the dark purpose of the One Ring. Originally, Gollum willingly bet the ring in the riddle contest. Gollum was dismayed when he found out that he could not keep his promise of the ring, and he instead bargained to lead Bilbo out of the cave. They parted on good terms.
In LOTR, the ring changed from a helpful charm to a powerful device that would suck the soul out of the wearer. Because of this change in the ring's nature, The Hobbit's Gollum had to turn murderous when he discovered the ring was missing.
Overall, this story was quite enjoyable, and I'm glad that I decided to "re-read" it as an adult. I got a lot more out of it this time around than I did when a child.
4.5 snowflakes for originality, adventure, humor, morals, and fun
Reason for reading: Interest, TBR Pile, Classics Club List
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Spoiler alert (for movie and book)!
As most of you know, the short children's book The Hobbit was stretched impossibly into three movies. An Unexpected Journey was the first. When I first saw this movie, I expected it to be stand-alone, so I was a bit shocked at the ending. This time around I knew what to expect, so I was better prepared to enjoy the movie.
This movie covers approximately the first third of the book. The wizard Gandalf appears unexpectedly in Bilbo's home, bringing with him a band of dwarves. Bilbo is hired as a burglar to steal a treasure from the formidable dragon Smaug. Bilbo and his friends almost immediately run into Radagast the Brown - a rather befuddled nature wizard who tells Gandalf that a terrible force is destroying the forest and killing animals. Gandalf runs off with Radagast, leaving Bilbo and his friends alone. This is an interesting development compared to the book, since Gandalf does, indeed, run off and do his own private stuff at this time, but Gandalf's reasons are much more mysterious. Radagast isn't even a character in the book The Hobbit, though he is a Middle Earth character developed by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Once alone, the first obstacle Bilbo and the dwarves run into is a few hungry trolls, who capture them and begin to argue about how to cook them. Bilbo saves his friends by distracting the trolls with inane conversation and argument until the sun rises and the trolls are turned to stone. In the book, it was actually Gandalf who saved them all by making mock troll voices which kept them arguing around in a circle until the sun came up. I rather liked Peter Jackson's twist on this story - it makes Bilbo seem more capable and less of a buffoon than he was in the book. This fits with the more adult vibe of the movie compared to the book.
The troop are then chased by the orc henchmen through the countryside until they have no choice but to seek refuge with the dwarf king Thorin's perceived "enemies," the elves. Despite Thorin's animosity, they are welcomed by the elf-king Elrond. This is another difference between the movie and the book. There wasn't so much elf-dwarf animosity in the original story. I think this difference adds depth of character and a darker undertone to the story - thus giving it the same darkly romantic atmosphere as the LOTR movies.
The rest of the movie fits pretty well with the book. The troop is captured by goblins, and the dwarves escape while Bilbo manages to find an enchanted ring and to win a riddle competition with the frightening amphibious Gollum.
As soon as everything seems fine, they are then chased yet again by the orcs. Although this second orc-chase did happen in the book, the backstory of Azog (an orc warlord and Thorin's sworn enemy) is entirely made up. This is one of many insertions used to lengthen the story into three movies.
I'm not generally one to dislike a movie just because it doesn't follow the book, so I found these changes interesting (I love contrasting various adaptations). The movie was more enjoyable this time around than it was the first time - partly because I was expecting the sudden end, and partly because the book was fresh in my mind for comparison. It's a fantastic epic story, and I think everyone should be familiar with it. Though reading the book would probably take less time than watching all three movies. :)
4 stars for adventure, characterization, mood, plot, action, and special effects
Thanks for dropping by.
I read The Hobbit to the kids before we went to see the first film. They seem to remember the film more; they loved the songs. And Thorin. :0)
Clinical Mental Health Diagnosis - Biological Assessment
This is another in my series of posts about what I'm learning in my abnormal psychology class.
One of the most difficult tasks for mental health workers is to clinically assess and diagnose mental illnesses - especially when comorbidity (having more than one mental illness) is so common. It usually begins with a psychological assessment through tests, observation, and interviews so the clinician can catalog the symptoms. Then the DSM-5 is consulted to give the diagnosis.
A clinician may focus the assessment in three ways - biological, psychodynamic, and behaviorally.
For the sake of appropriate treatment, it is very important to make sure that the symptoms are not due to a physical rather than a mental illness. In my experience, many doctors shrug off certain types of symptoms as those of a mentally ill patient. For instance, when I fainted at work a while back I was told it was "anxiety." (And because it was diagnosed as a mental problem, my insurance didn't pay - but that's a problem to discuss on another day.) Granted, my fainting spell could have been anxiety-induced, but it could have been many things.
A more extreme example that I heard of from a doctor at a large university hospital was that a foreign patient (I can't remember his origin) kept coming in complaining that there was a worm in his head. The doctors kept shunting him off to mental health. Eventually, the man came back and said "There's a worm in my eye!" They looked, and sure enough there was a worm in his eye. (Possibly something like this?) Yeah. Sometimes the patient knows what he's talking about.
Of course generally there aren't really worms in people's heads - but symptoms that seem mental could be due to head injuries, strokes, seizures, etc. There are a number of brain scans that can be performed to check for such problems.
One is computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, which moves X-ray beam around the head to create a 2D image of the brain. CAT scans have become more rare because of the availability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI quantifies magnetic fields affecting varying amounts of water content in tissue, thus giving a sharp image of different structures (or lesions / tumors) in the brain.
Another brain imaging technique is the positron emission tomography (PET) scan. PET scans measure the metabolic activity in the brain, thus allowing more clear-cut diagnoses to be made. PET can reveal problems that are not anatomically obvious. However, the images in PET images are low-fidelity and the scans are prohibitively expensive.
Functional MRI (fMRI) measures blood flow of specific areas of tissues, thus providing information about which areas of the brain are active. fMRI is the scan that helps researchers discover which parts of the brain are important for certain types of thoughts or activities. At the moment, it is more important in the research than in the clinical world, but there is some optimism that fMRI might eventually be used to map cognitive processes in mental disorders.
Sometimes, a lesion hasn't developed enough to be recognizable by brain scans. In this case, neuropsychological tests can be performed to quantify a person's cognitive, perceptual, and motor performance to determine what parts of the brain might be affected. The neuropsychological assessment usually involves a battery of tests such as the Halstead-Reitan assessment for adults. This assessment is composed of 5 tests.
1. Halstead Category Test: Measures learning, memory, judgement, and impulsivity. Patient hears a prompt and selects a number 1-4. A right choice gets a pleasent bell sound and a wrong choice gets a buzzer. Patient must determine the underlying pattern in prompt-number combinations.
2. Tactual Performance Test: Measures motor speed, response to the unfamiliar, and the ability to use tactile / kinesthetic cues. A blindfolded patient is asked to place blocks in the correct spaces on a board. Then she draws the board from memory, without ever seeing the board.
3. Rhythm Test: Measures attention and concentration. The patient listens to 30 pairs of rhythmic beats and must determine whether the pairs are the same or different.
4. Speech Sounds Perception Test: Determines whether patient can identify spoken words, and measures concentration, attention, and comprehension. Nonsense words are spoken, and the patient must choose the word from a list of four printed words.
5. Finger Oscillation Task: Measures the speed at which the patient can press a lever.
Update: Just on my abnormal psychology class, will re-start the EMT one in January.
This was a good month. I had three Thanksgiving celebrations: one with my cousins in Iowa, one with my boyfriend's family, and one with my own family & boyfriend. They were all a wonderful time. I'm pleased with my progress in my Abnormal Psychology class, work is going uneventfully, and I was very active on my blog, but I'm too lazy to post in the whole month's worth for you to see. If you want the summary you can go to my blog. I had a post pretty much every day, alternating between posts about what I'm learning in Abnormal Psychology class and book reviews.
I participated in Nonfiction November with the ladies at Doing Dewey, Sophisticated Dorkiness, I'm Lost in Books, and Regular Rumination.
During the month, I read 6 nonfiction books (Evil Hours, I am Malala, The Epic of Gilgamesh and Old Testament Parallels, Quiet, and The Archetypal Significance of Gilgamesh) and reviewed 7. I also enjoyed reading science fiction along with Rinn Reads. I was only able to read 2 science fiction books (The Martian and Shada), and review 3.
Next month I'll be joining the
Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. So far, my plans are Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott; The Three Sisters, by Sonia Halbach; and The First Christmas, by Marcus Borg. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in some more.
I've also joined some fantastic year-long challenges for my blog.
- Women's Classics Literature Year
- Little House on the Praire 12-book read-a-long
- Woolf-a-long (yes, that's reading a bunch of Virginia Woolf's books)
- Literary Bible Read-a-long
These are organized by someone other than myself on the blogosphere (luckily, but I generally get sick on and off and disappear for a while). But I imagine these people would be thrilled if I would start a thread for LibraryThingers to join in. Let me know if there's any interest.
(By the way, when you see this picture, it's what I'm learning in Abnormal Psychology class)
Paraphilias are sexual behavior patterns in which unusual objects, rituals, or situations are required for full sexual satisfaction. And yes, believe it or not, paraphilic disorders are diagnosable in the DSM-5. But in order to have a disorder, you can't just be turned on by unusual situations - it has to involve suffering or humiliation of yourself or others. (Though unfortunately, the suffering may be caused by stigma within society.) I will list several paraphilic disorders and discuss each:
- Fetishistic Disorder: Individual has recurrent sexually arousing fantasies, urges, and behaviors involving inanimate objects (i.e. women's underwear) or parts of the body (e.g. feet). People with fetishes are generally men.
- Transvestic Disorder: Hetreosexual men who must be wearing women's clothes in order to experience full sexual experience.
- Voyeuristic Disorder: Individuals with voyeuristic disorder have intense sexual fantasies and behaviors of watching women undress or watching the sexual activities of others. People with this disorder are generally young men.
- Exhibitionist Disorder: These individuals have intense sexual desire and behavior to sexually expose themselves to others. This generally is a man exposing himself to a young, unsuspecting woman; but sometimes they expose themselves to children.
My dad tells the story that one time he was standing in a check-outline for groceries, and a man laid it all out on the cashier's countertop. Cool as a cucumber, and without even glancing at the man, she rang up a can of food and then whammed it down hard on...well, you know where. That man was hauled out in an ambulance. Sometimes bad decisions are made.
- Frotteuristic Disorder: In frotteuristic disorder, someone is sexually excited by rubbing his genitals against an unwilling participant. I originally became familiar with this one due to a series of incidents (twice involving myself) with a coworker in retail. Very, very gross. Ick. But it was an experience to learn a new word when my dad was like "Oh! there's a disorder for that!"
- Sexual Sadism Disorder: The term "sadism" derives from the Marquis de Sade who got great sexual excitement out of inflicting cruelty upon people. Similarly, an individual with sadism disorder is aroused by psychologically or physically abusing someone. When sadism is inflicted upon a willing participant, it is not considered a disorder. But some sexual sadists inflict it upon partially or fully unwilling people.
- Sexual Masochism Disorder: The term "masochism" is based on a fictional character created by Leopold V. Sacher-Masoch. In masochism disorder, an individual must get intense sexual pleasure from fantasizing about or indulging in the experience of pain.
Sado-masochistic relationships can be healthy and cooperative, within reason; however, masochism can lead to humiliating experiences and sometimes death.
Butcher, James N. Hooley, Jill M. Mineka, Susan. (2014) Chapter 12: Sexual Variance, Abuse, and Dysfunctions. Abnormal Psychology, sixteenth edition (pp. 405-442). Pearson Education Inc.
I was a Psych major a while back...ahem... (along with Neuroscience), but my deviancy class did not have this many categories under paraphilic disorders!! The checkout story is classic.
What did you think of I am Malala? I have it waiting to read. I have read Gilgamesh, Quiet and The Martian, all of which I enjoyed for very different reasons.
Thanks for posting!
>150 streamsong: Thanks Janet! I know. I'm a little worried about my plans for next year. I may have taken on too much! But I'll muddle through.
>151 Berly: Hi Kim! Yes. You did guilt me. Especially since I never got to see you that weekend you were out here! I can post my review of I am Malala for you:
I Am Malala: The Girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
narrated by Archie Panjabi
I am Malala is Malala Yousafzai's memoir about her time in Pakistan promoting education for girls. She begins by discussing her family - from her grandparents, to her parents, and then to herself. She discusses the major political and geological forces that impacted her childhood and led up to her eventually being shot by the Taliban. She finished the book talking about how she felt when she awoke in England not knowing what had happened or where her family was. It is truly an amazing story.
Since I read this book for Non-Fiction November 2015, I will write my review in a different format than usual, by answering a list of questions:
1. What did you think of the tone and style in which I Am Malala was written?
While listening to the book, two things occurred to me. The first is that the tone was a bit naive and honest in the way only a child can be. The types of things she observed, for instance, like how much or less attractive someone was than herself. Their skin color, etc. I realize these things are thought about by adults, but the innocent way she brought them up was darling. I also felt that the way she talked about her competition for being first in class was cute. In an adult that would seem like a lack of humility if talked about with such frequency. But in her, it was sweet.
It also occurred to me that the writing was much too fleshed out to be entirely written by a young teenager. There was some obvious journalistic questioning going on before writing the book - and that is to the benefit of the story, and clearly the work of Christina Lamb.
2. What did you think of the political commentary in the book?
I found the political commentary interesting, especially since I'm only somewhat educated on the subject. The commentary obviously didn't have the powerful understanding shown in a book like The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini but it showed that Malala was quite intelligent and observant. It was interesting hearing those events from the eyes of a child.
As long as I'm comparing the book to fiction, it reminds me somewhat of In the Country of Men, by Hisam Matar in the sense that it is about "adult" events narrated from the eyes of a child. Of course, there are three major differences: location, fiction/non-fiction, and the age of the author. But still, I think it's an interesting comparison.
3. Did anything particularly surprise you about Malala’s daily life or culture?
I was surprised to hear how socially active Malala was before she was shot. I assumed the story was about a girl who became active only after she was shot - in other words, that the bullet was random, and that it gave her an opportunity to speak out. But, no, she was from a "privileged" environment (at least at the end) and was shot because she was speaking out.
4. Do you think you would act similarly to Malala in her situation? If you were her parents, would you let her continue to be an activist despite possible danger?
I wouldn't be as brave as Malala, nor do I think I am as intelligent as Malala. If I were her parents, I would support her doing whatever she felt was best. That's what my parents always did with me. It's a great way to let a child grow into her own.
5. What did you think of the book overall?
I do not usually read memoirs - not sure why, I just tend to gravitate towards the heavier non-fiction. But this book was pretty fascinating for me. Malala was so intelligent and perceptive. I loved her voice. (I don't mean the narrator's voice, though she did a lovely job.) This book makes me want to read more memoirs.
I would normally give this book 4 snowflakes for writing and interest level, but since it's such an important topic, it gains an extra star.
Shada: Doctor Who, the Lost Adventure
By Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts
Narrated by Lalla Ward and John Leeson
Shada is a novel tie-in to the popular TV series Doctor Who. Specifically, it is based on the screenplay (written by Douglas Adams) of an unbroadcast eighth doctor story arc. The Doctor, Romana, and K-9 go to visit an old friend, Professor Chronotis, after receiving a distress signal. It turns out that Chronotis had stolen a dangerous book: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. All the Time Lords have heard of this book, but none of them quite seem to remember what it's for. When the book is accidentally borrowed by a post-doc, the Doctor and Romana must find the book and keep it out of the hands of Skagra, an evil genius bent on becoming the universe. (Important distinction here - he's not taking over the universe; he's becoming it.)
This is the first time I've ever read a novel tie-in to a show or movie. My opinion has always been that books can become movies but movies shouldn't become books. You have to add in so much information for a TV novelization to be a good book. When I read a book, I'm not just looking for a story, I'm looking for beauty. For art. For characterization. These are things that this book did not particularly have. You knew who the characters were, after all. Why develop them? You knew about the world in which this story was taking place. No need for world building. So, in that way, the book isn't what I'm generally looking for in a book.
That said, this book did have humor, excitement, and familiar friends going through wild adventures. It was Doctor Who, after all, how could I not like it?
The book was well-read - narrated by the actress who played Romana in the TV show. K-9's voice was John Leeson, as well. So that was a very nice touch. This is my first time listening to a dramatization with sound effects. I've heard multiple-reader dramatizations, but never with footsteps, creaking doors, etc. It was kind of fun. Maybe I'll try something like this out again.
I'm going to have to give this book 3.5 snowflakes because I prefer books that have more characterization and world-building. But I also recognize that this is not what tv novelizations are meant to have.
The Evil Hours, by David J. Morris
Narrated by Michael Chamberlain
In this important work, Morris traces the history of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even back into the ancient days. He begins the book with his own experiences with PTSD. He experienced many traumatic events when he was a war journalist in Iraq, most notably "the time he was blown up." He remembers shortly before, one of the men asked him tentatively "Have you ever been blown up, sir?" Although the rest of the group chastised the man, it was too late. Morris had been "cursed." When he was "blown up," one of the men turned to him and yelled "What are you doing here?! We all want to go home and you're here voluntarily?! What are you doing here?" Morris couldn't answer that question. He understood that this moment had torn a rift between himself and this angry soldier - because Morris had chosen to put himself in danger. To be honest, I've often felt that way about war correspondents. Not that they deserve PTSD, no one deserves that. But if they repeatedly and purposely put themselves in danger, something will eventually happen.
In his book, Morris discusses not only his own PTSD & the history of PTSD, he talks about how PTSD affects the lives of its sufferers. He also discusses the major treatments for PTSD, many of which he has tried out himself. He apparently interviewed quite a few people for the book - at least he claims he did - though those interviews are generally chiseled down into two or three sentence mentions.
One point that Morris brought up about "PTSD" in ancient culture is his suggesting that Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey could be interpreted as allegories for PTSD. This was a fascinating new way to interpret an epic that I have been spending a lot of time thinking about lately (Gilgamesh, of course). The way he interpreted it, travel is good for the war-ravaged brain - seeing new places and having new experiences can release the trauma so that you can eventually return home to your life. I interpret it differently. I say that the voyage itself is in the mind. The voyage itself is the PTSD. Gilgamesh's desperate hunts for immortality - whether by glory, by physical longevity, or by wisdom - they're different stages in his growth and healing from a trauma. I'd have to think about it more, but it's definitely workable.
Morris also had an interesting section on treatments. The first he discussed was one that is highly lauded as the most successful treatment for PTSD: prolonged exposure (PE). In PE, the patient is made to relive his trauma in exact detail over and over. The theory is that after reliving it so many times, the mind becomes immune to the trauma, and is able to move on. This treatment has fantastic success rates. Problem is, the "success rates" of these studies don't generally include people who drop out of treatment. And most people drop out of treatment because it makes their symptoms worse (at least at first). So is this a highly successful therapy? Or a potentially harmful one? Morris dropped out of PE because he became much, much worse. Morris also tried a form of cognitive behavioral therapy which worked out much better for him - though Morris thought the idea of meshing out his cognitive distortions to be pointless and annoying. Morris also briefly talked about antidepressants. He pointed out that there is no proof that antidepressants have any effect at all on the symptoms of PTSD, but they might help the depression and suicidal ideation that often accompany PTSD.
One thing that disappointed me is that this is not a book about PTSD in general - it is a book about PTSD in military. PTSD is suffered more by women than by men. Most Americans with PTSD are women who have been raped or beaten or otherwise traumatized during a non-war setting. One review I read said "rape is also discussed extensively." It wasn't. Rape got a side comment every once in a while - generally in the form of a quote from Alice Sebold's memoir. However, most of the research on PTSD, and Morris' own personal experience with PTSD, is military-related, therefore it is understandable that he would focus on military PTSD.
The book also tended to wander and get a bit dull at times. And every once in a while there was a little touch of ignorance that the snobby intellectual will cringe at. Such as saying "as soon as I left PE, my stress almost mathematically declined." That sentence is meaningless. Every decline can be modeled mathematically. I suppose he meant "exponentially declined." But...sorry....I know....I'm a snob.
In the end, I thought this was a good book that could have been an amazing book if he had taken that extra step to include womens' experiences a little more. Women are the majority of the sufferers of PTSD in the US, and a great journalist would certainly have the resources to look into this subject as well.
A generous 4 snowflakes for important content and good personal tie-ins
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,
by Susan Cain
Quiet is Cain's celebration of introversion. She discusses how America is a world of extroverts and that introverts are encouraged to be extroverts against their personalities. This is a society that does not appreciate introverts. Through interviews and personal experience, she provides scientific and anecdotal evidence that introverts can provide just as much (or more) to society as extroverts.
I really wanted to like Quiet. Everybody seems to. And at the beginning I did. After all, I'm an introvert, at least I consider myself one despite the personality test that I took in a previous post. And that gets me to my first point. What is an introvert? Cain, and most others, define introverts as people who are drained by interpersonal interaction and need time to rejuvenate after a social situation. Extroverts are charged by socializing. But this is very black and white. What about the people like me who are 57.5% on the extroversion scale? I do need to rejuvenate after too much socialization, but I also seek out social situations. I do not seem to fit in her nice little structure. Cain briefly approaches this issue in her book, but I'm not sure most people care about the difference.
Another issue I had with the book is that it provided so much anicdotal scientific research. Don't get me wrong. The research was fascinating. I just gobble that stuff up. But then I realized that she didn't really seem to understand the implication of the research, and therefore the findings she presented weren't very trustworthy.
One example is that she discussed an experiment in which people were forced to "smile" by placing a pencil in their mouths. Then they watched a sad video. The people who were forced to smile felt much more cheerful after the video than the people who did not have pencils in their mouths. But later in that experiment, those same people - those who felt better after wearing the pencil - were more likely to react poorly to another sad video than the people who had not been forced to smile during the first video. Thus it s bad to suppress your emotions, because you will feel worse later.
Then in the same chapter, she talked about another experiment in which people could not produce an angry face because of an injection of Botox. When anger was stimulated, the people who could express their angry-face were left feeling more angry after the experiment than those were weren't able to express their angry-face.Thus it is bad to express your emotions because you will feel worse later.
Note the contradiction?
Another issue that bothered me about this book is her tendency to generalize a small population with the gigantic and diverse continent of Asia. In one study she quoted, the researchers compared the reactions of people from Hong Kong to the people of Israel, and found Israelis more willing to express their emotions. But Cain referred to the people from Hong Kong (a teensy tiny bit of Asia) as "Asians." She referred to the people of Israel (a slightly larger territory) as "Israelis." Israel, by the way is in Asia. Before you generalize, Ms. Cain, make sure you know your geography.
The last thing that bothered me about this book is that I felt it praised introverts to point of degrading extroverts. Yes,she continuously pointed out that both were needed, but I think if that were the case, she might have done a better job of showing how both are necessary to have a successful culture.
3 snowflakes for being an interesting read despite the weak points.
Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness,
by Pete Earley, Narrated by Michael Prichard
When Pete Earley's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia Earley was devestated. His son's potential career was on the line, he wasn't willing to accept treatment, and he was generally unpredictable and very unsafe. When Earley tried to get his son into the hospital, his son was turned away because he didn't want to be treated - and laws say that unless someone is an immediate threat to himself or others, he can not be treated involuntarily. Earley had to pretend his son was a threat to Earley's well-being to get his son hospitalized. Then Earley went to a commitment hearing to make sure his son stayed in the hospital until he was better. Early was appalled by his son's defense lawyer who did her best to defend Earley's son despite his son's clear mental illness. In her own defense, the lawyer said it was her job to defend the rights of someone who did not want to be committed. Earley's son won the case and was released.
After this incident, Earley's son broke into a house, peed on the carpet, turned over the all the photographs, and took a bubble bath. He was arrested and charges were filed against him by the family. Despite Earley's pleading with the family that his son was not targeting them specifically, that he was sick, the mother felt threatened and continued to press felony charges. Earley knew that the charges would be an irremovable bar from his son's career choice.
Because of the horrors of being unable to treat his son, and the unfairness of the charges, Earley decided to research the state of the mentally ill in the Miami jail system. There are, according to the staff psychiatrist, "a lot of people who think mentally ill people are going to get help if they are in jail. But the truth is, we don't help many people here with their psychosis. We can't. The first priority is making sure no one kills himself." The psychiatrist said that the point of the prison was to dehumanize and humiliate a person. Such treatment is counter to improving anyone's health.
The psychiatrist's task was to try to convince the inmates to take antipsychotic medication so that they could be deemed stable enough to stand trial. Earley was shocked at the state of the prisoners. Most of them refused the medication, and were clearly psychotic. Some huddled down into corners, covered in their own body matter. Some stood motionless and unresponsive. Some harassed the guards as they walked by with strange and crude accusations. The prisoners who were on suicide watch were stuck alone in a cell with no blanket, mattress, or clothes.
Miami has high numbers of mentally ill homeless people because of the nice weather and the immigration from Cuba. It is rumored that when a law was passed allowing Cuban refugees to enter America, Fidel Castro released his mentally ill inmates and deported them all to America - they ended up in Miami.
Earley picked mentally ill inmates at "random" and decided to follow them throughout the next couple of years to watch their recidivism rate. Most people who were released were not given proper care after release. They were given some pills and sent away; not being given proper social services to help keep themselves off the streets and stable. Thus, these people ended up back in prison within months. Others were held indefinitely because they cycled from jail to a hospital, where they were stabilized and deemed ready for trial; back to the jail, where they destabilized; and then back to the hospital again.
Earely wasn't only out to castigate the Miami prison system, he also focused on what the system was trying to do to make the situation better for the prisoners. He discussed the CIT program, which is meant to train officers to respond with compassion to mentally ill people in crisis so that they are less likely to be shot or arrested. (This program is discussed in a previous post.) Earley also researched institutions that tried to keep the mentally ill off the streets by housing them.
The end of the book returns to his son. Luckily, after too many postponements, the family that was pressing felony charges against Earley's son were unable to make it to the trial. Therefore, the sympathetic prosecutor and judge found him guilty of a misdemeanor and was he mandated to stay on his medications. His career was no longer at stake.
Earley encouraged society to end stigma about mental illness, and to change laws that inhibited proper treatment of unwilling mentally ill patients. Of course, this is easier said than done.
If you are interested, I also have a post discussing the state of the mentally ill in Ohio state prisons, with a Frontline documentary.