Links 23/11/2012

Callaeidae Cousins’ Misfortune, walkerillo.com

This amazing water colour was done by Rachel Walker. Check out her site. It is full of amazing paintings.

Bath Salts: The Drug That Never Lets Go,PBS

We knew bath salts were crazy. But new research on the two main ingredients, mephedrone and MDPV, when used in combination is a little bit scary. To use the explation the article uses:

Imagine the space between the nerve cells as a kitchen sink and the water as dopamine. In the brain’s natural state, the faucet, or nerve cell endings, are always leaking some dopamine, and the drain is always slightly open, vacuuming some of the chemical back into the cell. Methamphetamine turns the faucet on high. Cocaine closes the drain. Bath salts, researchers discovered, do both at the same time. With the faucet on and the drain closed, the water overflows. In other words, the drug was flooding the brain.

Now, kids. Don’t go out an panic just yet. Bath Salts haven’t really made it to New Zealand (as far as I’m aware). The new law Peter Dunne is hoping to have passed should make it even harder for this stuff to get here.

Obese need help to kick addiction, Stuff.co.nz

Are we addicted to food? It is true that some foods can create dependence and withdrawl patterns like those we see in what we commonly think of as drugs. It makes sense and, at the moment, the science stacks up.

However, I think people pushing this theory need to be very careful going forward that they make their messaging very clear. Not many people have an idea about what addiction really means.

Also, judging from the response Doug Sellman got at the Cutting Edge conference when he spoke about this, people — especially the obese people in the crowd — tried to rationalise away their love of food. Hmmm. Will be watching this area of research with much interest.

Beyond the Brain, Wilson Quarterly

An interesting article on new approaches to schizophrenia, mental health in general, and recovery from mental illness. It’s looking more an more like the nature versus nurture debate is on the way out and people are rightly realising it is both.

Because Statistical Rigour, On Point

Fairfax made the decision to publish New Zealand primary schools National Standards data. This has been widely panned as an inevitability since National Standards were first mooted by National before the 2008. In this post Keith questions the journalistic rigour of the decison to published.

There have also been some other interesting posts like this one by Ben who points out that schools whose name starts with the letter I out-perform any other schools. And this one from Danyl which points out the higher decile a school is (the richer the area it is in) the higher it’s supposed educational outcome. Danyl has also done some other interesting posts on the issue here and here.

When Satire Conquered Iran, New York Review of Books

Fantastic look at how an Iranian satire magazine, Molla Nasreddin, helped inspire satire, and deepening political throught, throughout the country.

A Peek Inside NASA’s Global Hawk Hangar, Wired

Space geek link of the week. Check out these amazing photos of NASA’s drones (hopefully) used for mapping and weather observation.

F-ing With Your Mind: What Makes the Austin “Chair Lynching” so Brilliantly Hateful, Bag News Notes

Scary that people think killing their elected officials, even in effigy, is okay. I do note it has also happened in New Zealand.

No work, no toilets on Planet Key, New Zealand Herald

John Armstrong from the Herald reports on Planet Key, Prime Minister John Key’s Nirvana as the man himself explained it during Question Time to Metiria Turei.

During yesterday’s ministers’ question-time, Turei asked Key if his idea of nirvana was 270,000 children living in poverty while their mothers earned $13.50 an hour cleaning the toilets on his “plentiful” golf courses.

“We would not have toilets on Planet Key,” he retorted bizarrely.

Turei then asked whether women would finally receive pay equity so that they too could enjoy plenty of family holidays. Mindful yesterday was Suffrage Day, Key replied that no one would be working.

The idea of Planet Key sparked a hashtag on Twitter which had some great lines. Here is a Storify I put together of the Twitter meme.


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