Friday, October 28, 2011

Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

Link to the paper:

Whether or not the scale of a society's income inequality is a determinant of population health is still regarded as a controversial issue. We decided to review the evidence and see if we could find a consistent interpretation of both the positive and negative findings.

We identified 168 analyses in 155 papers reporting research findings on the association between income distribution and population health, and classified them according to how far their findings supported the hypothesis that greater income differences are associated with lower standards of population health. Analyses in which all adjusted associations between greater income equality and higher standards of population health were statistically significant and positive were classified as “wholly supportive”; if none were significant and positive they were classified as “unsupportive”; and if some but not all were significant and supportive they were classified as “partially supportive”. Of those classified as either wholly supportive or unsupportive, a large majority (70 per cent) suggest that health is less good in societies where income differences are bigger.

There were substantial differences in the proportion of supportive findings according to whether inequality was measured in large or small areas. We suggest that the studies of income inequality are more supportive in large areas because in that context income inequality serves as a measure of the scale of social stratification, or how hierarchical a society is.

We suggest three explanations for the unsupportive findings reported by a minority of studies. First, many studies measured inequality in areas too small to reflect the scale of social class differences in a society; second, a number of studies controlled for factors which, rather than being genuine confounders, are likely either to mediate between class and health or to be other reflections of the scale of social stratification; and third, the international relationship was temporarily lost (in all but the youngest age groups) during the decade from the mid-1980s when income differences were widening particularly rapidly in a number of countries. We finish by discussing possible objections to our interpretation of the findings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Criminal Penguins - Frozen Planet - BBC One

Some penguins turn to a life of crime to build the perfect nest.

Quantum Levitation

Tel-Aviv University demos quantum superconductors locked in a magnetic field.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Copenhagen Bike Paths - An Example To All Cities

Di Bandung sudah ada sedikit bicycle lane. Alangkah baiknya kalau dikembangkan lebih jauh supaya bisa seperti di Copenhagen. Sekalian mengurangi polusi udara yang kita hirup sepanjang hari.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Letter from a Psychopath

For the people who ask me if I ever get emails from psychopaths:

message: Dear Jon,

I just saw your interview on Australia's ABC 7:30 report on 'The Psychopath Test' and wanted to share my experience. I hope that it can remain confidential for the time being, seeing as it is quite personal.

But, when I was 19 (I'm 26-27 now) I went into long-term therapy - for psychopathy.

My case was rather unusual in that I self-referred. The mental health agency had not had a walk-in of this kind before. In the lead up, I had found myself becoming overwhelmed with a predatorial instinct that I could not shake - I'd sit, watching crowds of people go by, driven to mania by what I saw as their limitless inferiorities. Plans were set that, once enacted, would be very difficult to walk back from.

Nevertheless, the decision to go to therapy was one I had taken with some considerable agony, given that I saw this as putting myself 'on the radar' so to speak, and thus making it considerably more difficult to 'act out my nature' as I saw it.

I undertook a lengthy psychological examination, and the psychiatrist conducting it wrote some pretty stark conclusions devoid of any optimistic prognosis.

My initial forays into therapy did not go well. Overwhelmed with mistrust, concerned at being maniuplated, and uncomfortable with the idea of being 'managed' rather than 'cured', I left on multiple occassions for some periods of time.

After chewing through several therapists, the director of the agency finally took me on herself, and to our mutual surprise we got along extremely well.

To make a long story short, after years of setbacks, frustrations, resentments and suspicion, I began to make considerable progress.

Four years later, with sessions no less frequent than once or twice a week, I came out of therapy unrecognizable from when I went into it.

Yes thearapy was transformative, though it is possible to overstate its impacts. I will always see the world through different lenses to much of the rest of the world. My emotional reactions are different, my endowments are impressive in some respects, not so in others, much like other people.

It is also the case that, being 'normal' takes a degree of energy and conscious thought that is instinctive for most, but to me is a significant expenditure of energy. I think it analogous to speaking a second language. That is not to say I am being false or obfuscating, merely that I will always expose some eccentric traits.

So why am I writing all this to you?

Well, from someone who is both psychopathic and treated, there are many fallacies about psychopaths with which I am deeply cynical. Unfortunately psychopaths themselves do themselves no favors, as the label given to them plays into their ego over generously - 'If we are born that way' psychopaths reason, 'then it is not wrong for us to be as we are, indeed we are the pinnacle of the human condition, something other people demonize merely to explain their fitful fears'.

We are neither the cartoon evil serial killers, nor the 'its your boss' CEO's always chasing profit at the expense of everyone else. While we are both of those things, it is a sad caricature of itself.

We continue be to characterized that way, by media, by literature, and by ourselves, yet the whole thing is a sham.

The truth is much, much more complex, and in my view, interesting.

Psychopaths are just people. You are right to say that psychopaths hate weakness, they will attempt to conceal anything that might present as a vulnerability. The test of their self-superiority is their ability to rapidly find weaknesses in others, and to exploit it to its fullest potential.

But that is not to say that this aspect of a psychopaths world view cannot be modified. These days I see weaknesses and vulnerabilities as simple facts - a facet of the human condition and the frailties and imperfections inheritent in being human.

At the same time it is true that my feelings and reactions to those around me are different - not necessarily retarded - just different. It is the image of psychopaths as something not quite human, along with espersions as to their natures, that prevent this from being identified.

So how to explain these 'different' feelings?

Well, lets look at what (bright) psychopaths are naturally quite exceptional at... We are good at identifying, very rapidly, extreme traits of those around us which allows us to discern vulnerabilities, frailties, and mental conditions. It also makes psychopaths supreme manipulators, for they can mimick human emotions they do not feel, play on these emotions and extract concessions.

But what are these traits really? - Stripped of its pejorative adjectives and mean application, it is a highly trained perception, ability to adapt, and a lack of judgment borne of pragmatic and flexible moral reasoning.

What I'm saying here is that although those traits can very easily (even instinctively) lead to dangerous levels of manipulation, they do not have to.

These days I enjoy a reputation of being someone of intense understanding and observation with a keen strategic instinct. I know where those traits come from, yet I have made the conscious choice to use them for the betterment of friends, aquaintences, and society. People confide in me extraordinary things because they know, no matter what, I will not be judging them.

I do so because I know I have that choice. After years of therapy I am well equipped to act on it, and my keen perception is now directed equally towards myself.

Its true that I do not 'feel' guilt or remorse, except to the extent that it affects me directly, but I do feel other emotions, which do not have adequate words of description, but nevertheless cause me to derive satisfacton in developing interpersonal relationships, contributing to society, and being gentle as well as assertive.

Such as statement might tempt you to say 'well obviously you're not a real psychopath then'. As if the definition of a psychopath is someone who exploits others for their personal power, satisfaction or gain.

A slightly more benign (but still highly inaccurate) definition is that a psychopath is someone who feels little guilt or empathy for others.

In the end, psychopaths need to be given that very thing everyone believes they lack for others, empathy; a willingness to understand the person, their drives, hopes, strengths and fears, along with knowledge of their own personal sadnesses and sense of inferiority...As it is, such cartoon, unchangeable, inhuman characterizations offers nothing but perpetuation of those stereotypes.

Serial Killers & Ruthless CEOs exist - Voldemort does not.

Thank you,


[via twitlonger]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animals are Skinned Alive on Chinese Fur Farms

Swiss Activist release tape of dogs being Skinned Alive on chinese fur farms for cheap ugg counterfeits - VERY GRAFIC - NSFW

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My first attempt at playing Z-Type

Z-Type is a vertical shooter game where you have to type the words properly to shot down each character until the invading ship blows up.

Teach the Controversy!

Don't buy into what the media wants you to believe: Godzilla was created by a nuclear test around the time of WWII. The Titanic sunk much earlier

The True Frontier - Cordwainer Smith

The following is a transcription of Extra Sci-fi’s episode “The True Frontier - Cordwainer Smith” What if I told you that one of the great...