doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-07-11 03:07 pm
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[links] surreal books

I just discovered this is a thing:

Codex Seraphiniaus [1]

Which of course lead to this (which I already knew about but hadn't seen):

The Voynich Manuscript[1]

All because I was thinking about this:

The Red Book [1]

And this:

What We See When We Read [1]

Which reminded me of this:

My Favorite Thing is Monsters [1]

I love the idea of making something in this vein.

---

[1] I recommend doing google image searches on all of them to understand why they fit together. Some of it will be NSFW.
doc_paradise: (honest)
2017-07-10 05:13 pm
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[review] A compassionate look at addiction and addiction management

DISCLOSURE: I am not a medical doctor or medically trained. 

 

Title: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

Author: Gabor Maté, M.D.

ISBN: 978-0-676-97741-7

Website: https://drgabormate.com/book/in-the-realm-of-hungry-ghosts/

 

Writing Style

Gabor Maté is a gifted writer. He combines medical research, case histories, his personal life story, and political commentary in a storytelling style that makes the difficult material both readable and compassionate. 

It’s pretty common for books on trauma to use descriptions of the terrible things that happen to people as illustrative examples. This is useful and appropriate, however some writers sprinkle their books with the equivalent of live grenades. I get it, they are trying to make a point. This is real. This is bad. This is serious. This is horrific. 

This book does something different. Maté’s writing shows unconditional positive regard for people while still talking about a long list (see content warning below) of terrible, heartbreaking, and horrific experiences. I like that. It encourages empathy, rather than othering. It also makes the book’s topic more approachable and (perhaps) less emotionally overwhelming. [1]

 

Summary:

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains descriptions of human suffering, drug use, physical and mental illness, pain, self harm, death, violence, addiction, abuse, murder, assault, genocide, racism, slurs.

 

In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts explicitly connects addiction to pain and experiences in childhood development.

 

Part I - Hellbound Train — Tells the human stories of some of the author’s patients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, their lives and their struggles with addiction, illness, and suffering. It also introduces the author, his ideals, and his successes and failures in being a compassionate physician. This section both sets the stage and humanizes the people and situations. 

Part II - Physician, Heal Thyself — Talks about the experience of behavioural addiction through the lens of the author’s own behavioural addictions and personal experiences. It also ties his addictions to his experiences with ADHD, as an infant in the Budapest ghetto, and the deaths of his grandparents in Auschwitz. 

Part III - A Different State of the Brain — Defines addiction as “any repeated behaviour, substance-related or not, in which a person feels compelled to persist, regardless of its negative impact on his life and the lives of others” [pg. 128]. It disconnects the addictive process from substance-abuse and breaks down the brain’s response to neurotransmitters and how they tie into addiction. 

Part IV - How The Addicted Brain Develops — Ties addiction to trauma, stress, and the early environment’s effect on brain development. Argues against addiction as a product of a simple genetic cause. 

Part V - The Addiction Process and the Addictive Personality — Approaches addiction as a response mechanism for managing the results of adverse childhood events, both what happened that shouldn’t have, and what didn’t happen but should have happened.  

Part VI - Imagining a Humane Reality: Beyond the War on Drugs — Examines and condemns present social roots of addiction and drug policy. While this section talks about U.S. drug policy, it focuses on Canada, particularly the treatment of First Nations peoples. It points out what isn’t working in social policies and attitudes, and introduces compassionate approaches and harm reduction. 

Part VII - The Ecology of Healing — Returns to the author’s struggles with behavioural addiction and self-healing. It examines some approaches to self-healing and management of addiction. It also touches on the difficulties the family, friends, and partners face. It does not offer a cure for addiction, but rather approaches to sobriety (including one based on OCD management).  

 

There is an epilogue that concludes some of the stories of the people described in the book, several appendices, endnotes with references, and an index.

 

My Opinion:

My copy of this book has many multicoloured tabs sticking out of it. I have every intention of re-reading sections. It’s an introduction to addiction and the issues related to addiction. It doesn’t plumb the depths to any great degree. Instead, it gives a broad overview and an emotional connection to suffering and addiction in Canada. (Yes, Canada we have a problem.) I found it engrossing. Broadening the definition of addiction to include far more than just illegal substance-abuse was eye-opening. In this context, behavioural addictions are more clearly addictions than in a disease model. I particularly liked his approach to behavioural addictions and how Part III broke down effects based on types of neurotransmitters (endorphins vs dopamine) rather than by drug type. 

I was already in agreement with harm reduction methods of treating addiction (such as methadone clinics and safe injection sites), but I didn’t know much about them other than they worked better than punishing the shit out of people. This book explains some of the reasons why. Unfortunately, the storytelling style will make it difficult to quote in Facebook arguments.

 

Evil Overlord Assessment:

I’m not a doctor, medical or otherwise. I can’t effectively evaluate the medical information in this book. Given that it is both emotionally appealing and convincing… if the medical information is incorrect or problematic… the presentation would make any toxic bits very easy to swallow. This book downgrades genetic factors and the disease model of addiction, both of which are more commonly accepted by the public. Again, I don’t have the expertise to evaluate the validity of either the commonly presented opinion or the medical information in Maté’s book. It appeals to me, for a variety of reasons, and therefore it is convincing. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Book excerpts area available at: https://drgabormate.com/book/in-the-realm-of-hungry-ghosts/

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist, a doctor, or a professional reviewer. I do, however, own and enjoy reading a staggering number of self-help books and I have opinions. Lots of opinions. One of these opinions is that the underlying assumptions in “self-improvement” and “self-help” books should be unpacked. These reviews may or may not do that, but I will try to acknowledge both some of the potentially useful and potentially problematic aspects of the books I review. The “Evil Overlord Assessment” section specifically looks at some ways that a fictional “Evil Overlord” might use this book to harm or control others for the purpose of World Domination. 

doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-06-29 10:05 pm
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[link]

Women are flocking to wellness because modern medicine still doesn’t take them seriously

"The medical system is even more terrible for women, whose experience of pain is routinely minimized by health practitioners. In the emergency room, women routinely wait longer than men to receive medication for acute pain. At the gynecologist’s office, severe period-related pain is often dismissed or underestimated. Ingrained sexism means that doctors may regard women as either earth mothers or hypochondriacs; that is, either women possess deep wellspring of internal pain control that they ought to be able to channel during childbirth, or their pain is psychological in nature—a symptom of hysteria.

Conditions that affect women at higher rates than men, including depression and autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, are much more likely to be dismissed as having a psychological rather than a physiological source. Chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers are still instructed to rely on exercise and positive thinking, despite research that indicates these measures do not cure the condition. Many women with autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, or even multiple sclerosis go undiagnosed for years, despite multiple trips to doctors and specialists—all the while being told that their symptoms could just be stress."
doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-06-28 06:50 pm
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[Humour]

Paradise Labs would happily hire Inspirobot to head its motivational division.





doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-06-28 03:45 pm
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[Paradise Labs] Buttons

I have something to celebrate so I'm planning on making buttons (probably 1.25" rounds) like this:





Some of the black border will be trimmed off.
doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-06-06 02:37 pm

[links] Emotional Labour and Gender

Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor

"So, what does it look like, friends, to build a new house together, and to find new tools for the job?

Can the emotionally exhausted among us say “No,” either simply and gently to those we love, or, as Jen did, loudly and insistently when our emotional boundaries are crossed and we are asked to work for free again? Can we dedicate our labor to ourselves, humbly learning the basics of taking care of our own emotional needs?

Can those who have received the benefit of others’ emotional labor admit, “I am embarrassed to not be good at this. I need help with it. I was not taught these skills, and that is unfair to me and to those I love?”

Relationships are hard work, they require labor. Sometimes they are tiring. But hopefully, they can be a mutual exchange, so that both parties can alternate working and being worked for, fighting and being fought for. When we all pitch in to dismantling and rebuilding our relationship houses, perhaps we can finally, together, get some rest."
doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-06-06 02:00 pm
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[DW] Question

So... I want to pre-load posts so that they post on particular dates (and not before). Is there a way to do that on DW? Does it require a paid account? (I'm willing to get a paid account if this is an option available there.)

(I want to pre-load Paradise Lab and Minion Bob stories so that they post automatically.)
doc_paradise: (stories)
2017-06-06 01:58 pm

[stories] Price Lists

 

From the Desk of Doc Paradise:

 

Dear Potential Client,

 

Thank you for showing interest in the services Paradise Labs has to offer. It appears that you are inquiring after our line of Entertainment Management Androids (EMAs). We have the following packages available:

 

* Basic Package - Android(s) are loaded with simple Play Well With Others (PWWO) software and will show up at the designated location for the designated time period (negotiable) and perform basic entertainment and interaction tasks. PWWO are capable of providing a degree of pre-negotiated customization based on the client's needs. No management, organizational, structural, or event failure prevention software is included in this package. These tasks are expected to be the responsibility of the client. This package is complimentary to Valued Clients.

 

* Host Package - In addition to PWWO software, these Android(s) are loaded with Advanced Hosting and Organization (AHO) software. These EMAs will perform tasks such as scheduling, meal planning, distributing and following up on invitations, hosting and entertainment management, basic preparation and cleanup tasks, and failure management. 

 

Please be aware that our Emotional Labour Android Upgrades (ELUs) are highly sought after and are considered extras in both of the basic and host Entertainment Management packages. Availability is limited.

 

* Emotional Labour Upgrade - This software performs basic Emotional Labour and Active Listening (EL-AL) tasks. Mansplaining Endurance software and Tongue Biting software are presently not available. 

 

For your convenience, we've included the appropriate fee lists with this letter of response. Holiday weekend rates apply. Prices on the ELU list are listed as multipliers on the selected EMA package. A deposit is required for new and probationary clients, but waved for Valued clients (don’t assume you are one). Failure to include sufficient location and timing information will void the contract and deposit return.

doc_paradise: (Default)
2017-05-01 12:04 pm
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DW Update

I'm here... I haven't had time to set this journal up well and I'm trying to do so today.

FYI -- I've deleted my LJ account. I *think* this means that my open-id account for LJ (here on DW) has been orphaned. I don't think I can login to shut it down either. You might want to unfriend that account.

edit: So... DW doesn't have sticky posts?

edit: ... mildly embaressed about how much I've forgotten about windows machines and dos...
doc_paradise: (Default)
2016-10-26 11:12 am
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The Turnip is Dead! Long Live the Turnip!

The results of the Turnip Sacrifice are up at clevermanka.net.
doc_paradise: (password2)
2016-10-19 11:05 am
Entry tags:

[Turnip] Fuck You, Turnip!

This year's Turnip Sacrifice post is up at Clevermanka.Net.
doc_paradise: (Default)
2016-09-02 02:54 pm
Entry tags:

[links]

ACS Webinars - Chemistry and material science webinars every Thursday. Webinars are free to anybody who registers when they are broadcast and available to ACS members in an archive after the fact.
doc_paradise: (password2)
2016-08-24 11:38 am

[Review] Conflict is for the Birds

Title: Conflict is for the Birds : Understanding Your Conflict Management Style

Author: Gayle Wiebe Oudeh & Nabil Oudeh

ISBN: 0-9731646-2-X

Summary:

Conflict is for the Birds uses bird metaphors to explain the five conflict management styles (competitive, collaborative, compromising, accommodation, avoiding), how they are used, and how they relate to each other.

Writing Style:

The authors rely heavily on metaphor and, while examples cover both home and work, the assumed audience is in the workplace. Metaphors are really useful, as long as the reader understands them. Metaphors can simplify abstract or complex concepts, and allow touchy or complex concepts to be approached with less emotional baggage. The problem with metaphors is when they are understood differently than intended and when there are unacknowledged preferences, biases, experiences, likes/dislikes, prejudices, etc attached to them. Your milage may vary with regards to any particular metaphor. This book uses anthropomorphized (cartoon) bird behaviour.  Birders may cringe.

There are quizzes in this book and the results are used through out the text so they are worth doing when they are presented. I would suggest NOT writing your answers in pen on the book itself like the previous owner of my second-hand copy did. I suggest using a separate piece of paper or a pencil when doing the quizzes.

My Opinion:

The theory of five conflict management styles presented in the book is a standard theory that is one of the first things that gets brought up in conflict management classes.[1] The metaphor uses birds as stand-ins for conflict styles and places them on an axis of a “Focus on Self” vs “Focus on Others”[2] grid. Woodpeckers are competitive, Owls are collaborative, Parakeets are accommodating, Hummingbirds are compromising, and Ostriches are avoiding. The bird descriptive sections give a conflict scenario for each bird, main conflict characteristics, common tactics used, some motivations behind the characteristics and tactics, how conflict is experienced as that type, and some advice on when that style is useful, not useful, and how to deal with that style. There is also a section on what happens (and what to do about it) when styles collide.

One thing I particularly liked about this book is that it presents styles as preferences that are moved through. They call this a “flight pattern”. This isn’t a set personality type (i.e. “Bob is a woodpecker and will never behave like anything other than a woodpecker”) but rather as a preference for certain types of default patterns (i.e. “Bob tends to default to Woodpecker at the start then then moves through Hummingbird, Owl, Ostrich, then Parakeet. Bob knows this, as do the people he works with, so the keep it in mind that Bob’s first answer will always be hard even if he may later bend and this is particularly hard on his employees that also start in woodpecker”). It presents people as having defaults, but being able to move from them and giving advice on that.

The five conflict styles is pretty standard in conflict management and communications. It shows up everywhere. What this book is bringing to the table is presentation and focus.  If bird metaphors don’t work for you… there is definitely another book or website or explanation out there that uses something different and focuses on it in a different way. The theory can be either useful (if taken as descriptive and flexible) or restrictive (if taken as set personality types that can’t be changed).

Evil Overlord Assessment:

Pigeonholing people is a wonderful tool for evil. If you make it about WHO-THEY-ARE (unchanging) or WHO-YOU-ARE rather than behaviour then you can justify anything. (“I HAVE to get my way BECAUSE I’m a woodpecker.” Or “There is NO USE getting their opinion BECAUSE they are an ostrich.”) It doesn’t matter if they are or aren’t (or you are or aren’t) because the answer is pre-ordained to be whatever you’ve decided. This tactic can turn any categorization system into a rigid hierarchy from which there is no escape. As an added bonus, assign GOOD or BAD judgements to categories. (“Hummingbirds are all Flighty Assholes who can’t make a decision.” Or “I’m an Owl so I manage conflict well.”) This combination will allow you to dismiss or highlight whatever you want without changing yourself.

Footnotes:

[1] Thomas - Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

[2] Other ways the chart can be presented include: “Assertiveness” vs “Cooperativeness”; or “Concern for Own Agenda” vs “Concern for Others Agenda”; or “Desire to Satisfy Own Concerns” vs “Desire to Satisfy Others’ Concerns”; etc. The way it is presented may affect how people perceive the value of each access. We tend to apply “good” to things we value positively and “bad” to things we value negatively. These options are meant to be descriptive and value neutral in this case.

doc_paradise: (password2)
2016-08-18 06:59 pm

[Review] Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Title: Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most (Updated with Answers to the 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Difficult Conversations) 10th - Anniversary Edition

Author: Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen

ISBN: 978-0-14-311844-2

Summary:

A general purpose handbook for understanding and managing Difficult Conversations from the Harvard Negotiation Project[1].

Writing Style:

This book is aimed at a general audience and its examples are pulled from work, home, and daily experiences. The language is simple and straight forward. It has a somewhat impersonal presentation style, snappy titles, and short sections. This book came out of a business/law school and is used in workplace conflict and communications training. The presentation of the book reflects that.[2]

It does not have a keyword index. Instead, the back of the book contains a “A Roadmap to Difficult Conversations” section which outlines the main ideas of every section in a few words. That is useful, but some people may find the lack of an index irritating. (I tried to look up “empathy”. I was annoyed that I had to dig through the Roadmap, then the text, so that I could reference it in an example.)

My Opinion:

This is an excellent book on its own or as a compliment to other communications and conflict books. I recommend it.

Its definition of a Difficult Conversation is simple: a difficult conversation is a conversation about anything you find it hard to talk about. These conversations may be awkward, uncomfortable, dreaded, uncertain, important, annoying, avoided, or about things we care deeply about. These are the conversations we wish we could wave a magic wand at or simply nuke from space. The book’s process is intended to make these conversations less painful and more successful.

The first part of the book breaks down Difficult Conversations into three concurrent conversations: the “What happened…?” conversation, the Feelings conversation, and the Identity conversation. It explores what each of these are, how to approach them successfully, and ways to make them blow up in your face. The middle section breaks down Difficult Conversations into a step-by-step walk through of what-comes-when and the skills to use in each part. The final section (in this edition) is a FAQ that addresses a variety  of (antagonistic) questions about the process (i.e. “It sounds like you are saying everything is relative. Aren’t some things just true, and can’t someone be just wrong?”). The entire book focuses on implementing a LEARNING STANCE and the CONTRIBUTION APPROACH in Difficult Conversations.[3] This stuff works. The book contains knowledge and skills that conflict professionals actually use and which doesn’t require both parties in the conversation to be on-board for them to work.

I wouldn’t call this a “self-help” book, so much as a “how-to” book. It is the kind of book which you could pick up 15 minutes before a Difficult Conversation and you would quickly get a few tactics that might be immediately applicable in said conversation. It answers the question “What do I do?” (i.e. Problem + Solution = Action) in every section, no matter how short the section.

It is a process and applications type book. It will appeal to a problem-solving mindset as it focuses on behaviour changes (via changes in goals and thinking) and treads very lightly on issues of self-awareness and other complicating issues. It acknowledges that these are important in a similar manner to a house-building manual acknowledging that a “good location” is important. It acknowledges that “good location” is something you should consider when “building a house”, but it doesn’t go into these in depth. This will be especially appealing to the “I just want to build a FUCKING HOUSE, DAMNIT! I don’t want to waste my time with useless SHIT!” crowd. Which is fine. This book is well targeted for that attitude[4].

However, even the best built house will have problems if it is built without regard to its surroundings[5] and this process isn’t a MAGIC BULLET that will be the SOLUTION TO ALL THINGS allowing you to bypass everything that makes you UNCOMFORTABLE. If you come at this book with that attitude, I invite you to imagine me demonstrating my EVIL LAUGH in your general direction. Good tactics and strategies are built on a backbone of good intel. This book assumes you have some skills in “Know Thy Landmines” and that shit. Or that you will work at learning those skills.

Evil Overlord Assessment:

In the Mirror Universe, this book would be about “How to Pick Fights” and would map out how to be positional, confrontational, avoidant, and competitive instead of using a better option. We would be able to ensure that we shoot ourselves in the foot with the greatest of ease! (All the things outlined under “normal behaviours that people do” in this book. All the “before” parts in the examples.) In the Mirror Universe, guaranteed-to-blow-up things would be preferred methods of creating conflict in difficult situations. The Right way of doing things… Are you sure you aren’t living in the Mirror Universe?[6]

Footnotes:

[1]  Harvard Negotiation Project

[2] If you can’t find it in the self-help or psychology section of your local bookstore, then check the business section.

[3] I have a very strong bias in favour of the learning stance (curiosity) approach to conflict. That’s what Insight mediation is all about (my training).

[4] Chapter 9 is filled with tools that are useful for performing empathy, but only the last two paragraphs of the chapter directly use the word “empathy”.

[5] When I was a teenager, I read Pierre Berton’s series on the building of the Canadian transcontinental railway. He told a story about locomotives disappearing into a swamp and the company building more tracks over top of them. Applying “fixes” to conflict and relationships may not work as expected… not because the processes (locomotives) aren’t well built, but because it was in a swamp. Sometimes you have to build in swamps. That happens.

[6] Quick, check for unnecessary goatees!