Tuesday, 21 August 2007

I should use what instead?

I'd just like to say that this picture illustrates one very good reason why building a web browser that can truly take it's place among IE, the Mozilla offspring and Opera, is really fucking hard. Konqueror (Debian testing) can't yet:

Oh yes, and Google? It would be really clever if you recognised that somebody was connecting from Linux and didn't recommend Internet Explorer.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

P.S.: What this says about my chance of finding a mobile that can cope with docs.google.com doesn't bear thinking about.

Health Conditions You Never Knew You Had Until You Were Told

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Saw a reference, googled it, laughed quite hard, desperately tried to find something authoritative on adrenal glands that wasn't trying to sell herbal supplements....

To be honest, I love Internet quizzes that attempt to diagnose things. Yes, even the ones that say "This is not intended to replace a diagnosis by your doctor" at the top, as though it's going to make a difference to how people use it.

I found one on About.com, in the (cue warning sirens) Alternative Medicine section. Some choice questions follow:

"I often feel tired after exercise, rather than energized." - Exercise how hard?

"I crave sweet or salty foods" - Does chocolate count?

"I am frequently irritable, negative or pessimistic" - Can I count enduring personality traits here?

"I often have trouble getting up in the morning, even after going to bed at a reasonable hour." - Define "reasonable".

"My body temperature feels off balance or I get hot flushes." - Should middle-aged women be excused from answering this one?

"I drink more than one 8oz cup of coffee every day" - I have mitigating circumstances!

"In my free time, I'm often too tired to do anything that involves going out of the house." - Does low care factor count here?

And my result?

You answered 11 items out of 16 correctly.

Your score is 69%. Your adrenal glands may be in overdrive."

Give me a break. "Correctly"? Were they paying attention when they put that together? And 16 questions is enough for a 2/3 response to result in the diagnosis of "overdrive"?

I can, however, now confirm that according to the Internet I have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, Adult ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and I'm a woman, a fact which would greatly surprise my girlfriend if she found out about it.

Monday, 20 August 2007

This is your brain after using drugs for a long time

"Brain Dysfunction blamed for Addiction" (Courier Mail)

Okay, avoiding for a moment that "blamed" in the headline, with all its nice little connotations, the gist is that "researchers" (doesn't even say which department they're from) at the University of Melbourne have found an under performing frontal cortex in people with long-term addictions, resulting in a reduced ability to control impulses, reduced self-control overall, therefore reduced ability to counteract addictive behaviours or substances.

Now, there have been many arguments over the years about "addictive personalities", many of them with a physiological component, that all seem to boil down to an individual finding a behaviour or substance that balances the negative effects of a slightly off-kilter physiology or a crap life. And for various reasons, including people grabbing the wrong end of the stick and accusing such theorists of wanting to excuse behaviours that they're just trying to explain, many of them are decidedly controversial and non-PC.

So this is a study I like - it finds something that correlates with known behavioural or cognitive issues which can all be seen to have a bearing on the behaviour in question - i.e. addiction. My immediate question, however, is: Is this a predisposition or a consequence of neurological injury caused by long-term intake of toxic psychotropic substances? The study was looking at drug users not, e.g. sex addicts or compulsive gamblers, and we know all too well the ways in which long-term usage of licit or illicit drugs can mess with your grey (and white) matter.

Well, apparently that's the next line of research, and about time too I say, although I'm not sure how they plan to tell if it's injury or a bad roll of the genetic dice (maybe looking for more global damage?)

I am, however, overjoyed to see that perhaps there will be meaningful behavioural strategies used for addiction, instead of strategies based upon untested theories or ideologies.

And if anybody does think that I'm trying to find excuses for people: grow up.

The big question is not whether somebody has a mitigating factor for behaviour, it's their reaction - to seek (or accept) help or to continue with behaviour which is destructive to their physiology, finances and relationships and which may, by the time they're offered help, have got them in serious trouble with the law.

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