I made a comic about every comment thread under any content involving a fat person existing. Ever.
This counts as my inktober #1 because I spent way more time on it than I should have.
Drone wars in Tokyo
The Most Amazing Halloween Costume Ever by Doctor Popular
2 for 1 drinks this week at QWOP tavern.
Buy the book and help the ugly man behind this comic... http://lunarbaboon.bigcartel.com/
"Get a rat and put it in a cage and give it two water bottles. One is just water, and one is water..."
Get a rat and put it in a cage and give it two water bottles. One is just water, and one is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself very quickly, right, within a couple of weeks. So there you go. It’s our theory of addiction.
Bruce comes along in the ’70s and said, “Well, hang on a minute. We’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do. Let’s try this a little bit differently.” So Bruce built Rat Park, and Rat Park is like heaven for rats. Everything your rat about town could want, it’s got in Rat Park. It’s got lovely food. It’s got sex. It’s got loads of other rats to be friends with. It’s got loads of colored balls. Everything your rat could want. And they’ve got both the water bottles. They’ve got the drugged water and the normal water. But here’s the fascinating thing. In Rat Park, they don’t like the drugged water. They hardly use any of it. None of them ever overdose. None of them ever use in a way that looks like compulsion or addiction. There’s a really interesting human example I’ll tell you about in a minute, but what Bruce says is that shows that both the right-wing and left-wing theories of addiction are wrong. So the right-wing theory is it’s a moral failing, you’re a hedonist, you party too hard. The left-wing theory is it takes you over, your brain is hijacked. Bruce says it’s not your morality, it’s not your brain; it’s your cage. Addiction is largely an adaptation to your environment.
We’ve created a society where significant numbers of our fellow citizens cannot bear to be present in their lives without being drugged, right? We’ve created a hyperconsumerist, hyperindividualist, isolated world that is, for a lot of people, much more like that first cage than it is like the bonded, connected cages that we need.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. And our whole society, the engine of our society, is geared towards making us connect with things. If you are not a good consumer capitalist citizen, if you’re spending your time bonding with the people around you and not buying stuff—in fact, we are trained from a very young age to focus our hopes and our dreams and our ambitions on things we can buy and consume. And drug addiction is really a subset of that.”
As a recovering addict this is an interesting read. I’m constantly battling right-wingers telling me it’s my fault and always being told by doctors it’s in my nature. But hearing this about my environment makes a lot of sense, I fell into addiction in a very bad time in my life when I was very isolated, and most of the addicts I know are the same. Addiction is definitely related to depression and this is affected by environment. I like this article.
Bruce Alexander did the Rat Park experiments in the seventies. I am kind of horrified and outraged that I’ve heard about the empty-cage rat experiments but never once about his.
Oh boo hoo.
Vatican agrees first treaty with State of Palestine 'disappointing' Israel
The Vatican is preparing to sign a treaty which will recognise the state of Palestine on paper for the first time ahead of Pope Francis meeting the country's President, Mahmoud Abbas. The treaty, which is being drawn up by a group called the Bilateral ...
Vatican recognises State of Palestine: Does this mean Israel is becoming more ...The Independent
Vatican agrees first treaty with State of Palestine, solidifying relationshipReuters
No solution for Palestinian refugees without justice for Jewish onesi24news
New York Times
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The Pew survey found that those unaffiliated with a faith tradition are now the second-largest religious demographic group after Evangelicals, with about 23 percent of the population. Among these, atheists and agnostics have jumped from 4 percent of the population in 2007 to more than 7 percent of the population in 2014, and most have more liberal political views.
In 2007, more than 78 percent of Americans said they practiced some form of Christianity. Today, in apparently the lowest figure in US history, 70.6 percent identify as Christians, according to a new Pew study.
Worth a little pain? Back in 1990, a school boy got a measles shot in the U.K., and it turns out, he got more than protection against the measles.Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images
Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.
But something else happened.
Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.
Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.
"In some developing countries, where infectious diseases are very high, the reduction in mortality has been up to 80 percent," says Michael Mina, a postdoc in biology at Princeton University and a medical student at Emory University.
"So it's really been a mystery — why do children stop dying at such high rates from all these different infections following introduction of the measles vaccine," he says.
Mina and his colleagues think they now might have an explanation. And they published their evidence Thursday in the journal Science.
Now there's an obvious answer to the mystery: Children who get the measles vaccine are probably more likely to get better health care in general — maybe more antibiotics and other vaccines. And it's true, health care in the U.S. has improved since the 1960s.
But Mina and his colleagues have found there's more going on than that simple answer.
The team obtained epidemiological data from the U.S., Denmark, Wales and England dating back to the 1940s. Using computer models, they found that the number of measles cases in these countries predicted the number of deaths from other infections two to three years later.
"We found measles predisposes children to all other infectious diseases for up to a few years," Mina says.
And the virus seems to do it in a sneaky way.
Like many viruses, measles is known to suppress the immune system for a few weeks after an infection. But previous studies in monkeys have suggested that measles takes this suppression to a whole new level: It erases immune protection to other diseases, Mina says.
So what does that mean? Well, say you get the chicken pox when you're 4 years old. Your immune system figures out how to fight it. So you don't get it again. But if you get measles when you're 5 years old, it could wipe out the memory of how to beat back the chicken pox. It's like the immune system has amnesia, Mina says.
"The immune system kind of comes back. The only problem is that it has forgotten what it once knew," he says.
So after an infection, a child's immune system has to almost start over, rebuilding its immune protection against diseases it has already seen before.
This idea of "immune amnesia" is still just a hypothesis and needs more testing, says epidemiologist William Moss, who has studied the measles vaccine for more than a decade at Johns Hopkins University.
But the new study, he says, provides "compelling evidence" that measles affects the immune system for two to three years. That's much longer than previously thought.
"Hence the reduction in overall child mortality that follows measles vaccination is much greater than previously believed," says Moss, who wasn't involved in the study.
That finding should give parents more motivation to vaccinate their kids, he says. "I think this paper will provide additional evidence — if it's needed — of the public health benefits of measles vaccine," Moss says. "That's an important message in the U.S. right now and in countries continuing to see measles outbreaks."
Because if the world can eliminate measles, it will help protect kids from many other infections, too.
No that’s perfect
Why do ‘pro-government’ protesters battle cops, while pro-impeachment protesters hug them? Which team are these guys on, again? A guide to the current crisis
I just spent a month away from Brazil, which served to remind me of just how inscrutable the struggles currently rocking this country are to foreign observers. They may know that things are not as rosy as they were a few years ago, or that “the government” has messed up or is in trouble. But the contours of the battles are extremely blurry.
For example. Last week, protesters clashed violently with police outside Congress in Brasília during a demonstration against a new legislative project (pictured above). A few days later, on Sunday, a much larger group of protesters, some of whom smiled and posed for selfies with heavily armed cops, cheerfully filled streets around the country,
It is indicative of the topsy-turvy world that crisis-ridden Brazil has entered that the bloody demonstrators battling cops were the ‘pro-government’ protesters, while the cheerful, carnavalesque crowds were calling for the president to be impeachment and her party to be demolished.
That’s because “the government” is not just one government these days, and a number of players (some even less scrupulous than the others) are currently engaged in a fight for its future.
So who are they? What do they want? What are their chances?
The government, part 1 (executive)
President Dilma Rousseff, of the left-leaning Workers’ Party (PT), was re-elected in October and began her second term in January.
The PT has controlled the Presidency since Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva took over in 2003. By any global standard, Lula’s time in power was good for Brazil. Buoyed by high prices for its commodities, the economy surged forward, and moderate social programs helped roughly 40 million people rise from poverty into the “new middle class.” He left office with record levels of support.
Dilma, former left-wing guerrilla and Lula’s hand-picked successor, took over in 2011 and enjoyed widespread support for a while. But the commodity boom ended and the economy slowed down amid mistakes made by Dilma’s government. Then the June 2013 protests happened, and so did the World Cup, which only turned out pretty well in contrast to the mess it was expected to be, and because Brazilians were polite enough to keep their rage about wasteful spending to themselves while the foreign fans were here.
By the 2014 election, Dilma had lost much of the goodwill Lula had bestowed to her. She barely beat out opponent Aécio Neves (PSDB) by frantically appealing to the working poor and middle-class leftists, denying many of the economic problems the country faced and promising what we all knew she couldn’t deliver in the short term.
She won, promptly installed a Finance Minister that her core supporters (and probably she herself) consider ‘neoliberal,’ who embarked on a series of painful adjustments as the dire economic straits Brazil finds itself in became exceedingly obvious. For the first time since 2003, regular people’s lives not only stopped improving, but in some cases, began to get worse. And all the while, since the middle of last year, it slowly emerged that the Federal Police have built a credible case that the state-run oil company, Petrobras, funneled billions of dollars to huge construction companies, who then passed some of the bribes on to political parties.
The government, part 2 (legislative)
If Brazil were a monarchy, that would be it. Rousseff would be “the government.” But Brazil is a loose federal republic with a staggering 28 parties active in its two legislative houses, and 26 state governors who each control their own police forces.
Much of Lula’s success was attributable to his ability to cobble together an unlikely coalition of parties and economic actors and thus keep the party going. This group has included right-wing parties, major figures Lula used to bitterly oppose, one president already impeached for corruption, and big parties who may not believe in much, other than the spoils of power.
Maintaining this kind of a coalition is a lot easier if you have Lula’s charisma and political capital. It’s even easier if you have so much money flowing in that you can make everyone in the country richer at the same time.
Dilma has none of this at the moment, and it’s all falling apart.
Amidst the chaos and political weakness of the first few months of Dilma’s second term, the PT lost control of Congress. The “catch-all, pork loving” PMDB has gained control of the Presidency of both houses and is openly rebelling against Dilma. Eduardo Cunha, an evangelical Christian, has been especially combative. Contributors to this blog have made it pretty clear who these guys are. It is not only that have they taken advantage of Dilma’s weakness. They are also reportedly furious that both of their Congressional leaders, Renan Calheiros and Cunha, have been named in the investigation into the Petrobras corruption scandal.
Recently, they have been pushing a bill that allows for more companies to treat employees as contractors. The PT hates this law, and so do the left-wing and union protesters that marched against it last week in Brasília. That’s who battled cops in Brasília last week, decked out in red. They support “the government” (Dilma) against right-wing threats, but despise Cunha and company.
Many people want Neves and the PSDB in power. Many, but less than before, want Dilma’s PT to hold on and thrive. But few people will tell you they love these guys.
The protesters, 2015 edition (green and yellow)
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets around the country to denounce Dilma and call for her impeachment. This was less than they mustered a month earlier, but this group and its demands are not going away.
These protesters want Dilma gone, now, and mostly hate the PT passionately. A small minority call outright for military intervention. Anecdotally speaking, these people have not felt represented by the PT government in years, and their anger has exploded further since the October election. Studies suggest they are wealthier and whiter than average Brazilians, and that they are most likely to take their cues from Brazil’s most right-wing major publication.
According to this study, they also hold some strange beliefs. A majority said they think the PT “wants to impose a communist regime in Brazil.” The Economist recently called them a “Tropical tea party.” They are usually law and order voters, which explains why some of them embrace the police that terrify many poor Brazilians and traditional protest groups.
But it is not enough to just wave one’s hands, and say that Brazil has always had a small but powerful right-wing section of the elite, that they never liked the PT anyways and hold views that many English-language readers would find bizarre. That may describe some of the core demonstrators who are actually in the streets. But it’s also important to recognize why they’ve been able to step into the spotlight now, and that many regular people are sympathetic to their broader demands.
Another recent poll made very difficult reading for the PT. Datafolha reported that 63% of respondents support an impeachment process against President Rousseff. And 3/4 of respondents said they supported the recent protests around the country.
This must include many people that voted for her. And it’s not hard to see what explains this swing. Things have gotten worse.
Social movements, unions, and the left (protesters in red)
But it’s not just the rich, white, and conservative that are upset. Many of the core supporters of the PT project had hoped that Dilma would follow up on her left-wing campaign with a shift to the left. She did not. They were doubly mortified to see the country fall into the hands of her former conservative allies in Congress, who have been eager to push an agenda they consider homophobic and a serious threat to labor rights.
In much smaller numbers, they took to the streets yesterday, alongside fast food workers, to protest this new direction. These guys come from the traditional left, and have traditionally clashed with police at times.
And while they bitterly oppose the other group of protesters, accusing them of being golpistas, they are also an outgrowth of real discontent with the status quo. They would argue that to tackle the very real popularity problems the Datafolha survey revealed, the PT should return to its left-wing roots.
It’s also notable that Brazilians, perhaps fed up with the system in general, have been quite eager to support all kinds of protests recently. In 2013, a remarkable 89% supported the protests started by an anarchist-leaning student group after they exploded into wider demands for better public services and an end to corruption.
Who will triumph? (pure speculation)
Marxists and free-market liberals alike sometimes make the mistake of thinking that if things just get bad enough, a solution they like will appear. The radical left looks to 1917, and liberals look to 1989, as evidence of this. But what happens more often is that things just sort of muddle along, in a dispiriting and crappy way, with no easy way out.
While admitting that anything could happen, I’ll venture three possibilities for the next few years. The first is that the political and legal circumstances change, and Dilma is actually impeached. For now, this seems unlikely, but it is possible. In any case, it would only be a victory for the yellow-green protesters in that it would be a blow to the PT. Their preferred representatives would be extremely unlikely to take over. Another possibility is that the PT manages to retake control of the situation, getting the economy back on track and moving into a position in Congress where it can satisfy some of its core supporters. This road looks very difficult from here.
But more likely, in my opinion, is that Dilma will remain weak for the near future, with Minister Levy managing to do enough with the economy to avert disaster, but unable to unleash the country’s full potential, while a rudderless Congress is taken in a new and sometimes strange direction.
Not very exciting, I know. But those are the battle lines for now.