28 April 2010

Research Tidbit #1

I am in the thick of secondary dissertation research. We have a initial ten or so pages due on Friday, which I have just started writing because I am a very organised person. Yes.

I found a new article yesterday that was a research report into a sociological study (very well set up) that was initiated to determine what the actual deficit in ability to give informed consent was for persons hospitalised for mental disorder. I'm not going to go into the results just now because I want to keep this brief but in reading the study I found out something new to me that apparently is common to depressed persons. That is, a distinct deficit in capacity to make decisions successfully. As I was reading their description of what this meant, I did absolutely recognise myself.

According to the study, depressed persons typically were less able to communicate a decision and once a decision had been communicated, they were much more likely to experience distress or regret - often on the presumption that the decision must have been the wrong one. I do this all the time. I had assumed that it was just a part of my character - I still tend largely to think it is - but it is interesting to see that it is a characteristic correlated with depression. I know that it gets worse when I'm depressed but as almost everything seems to get worse when I'm depressed I didn't think of it as having any special relation.

This has, of course, started me wondering whether a diminished capacity to make and communicate decisions is also a reverse predictor. That is, if depression predicts a diminished capacity to make and communicate decisions, does a diminished capacity to make and communicate decisions predict depression? Obviously, that couldn't ever be a single predictor of depression - I can think of other things it might predict - but I wonder whether it might constitute another way to confirm or disconfirm a diagnosis of depression or perhaps be a good indicator of severity.

What do you all think? Does this reflect your experience? Had you heard about it before?

17 April 2010

For My Mild Homesickness...

...and your general amusement.

I'm having a mild and rather enjoyable case of homesickness for Asheville, my former abode, amidst all this politicking and policy-wonking. Looking at the video I took of Obama speaking in Asheville has reminded me of another political event of the same month: the visitation of Sarah Palin.

Asheville, being the dear, odd place that it is, has for many years been home to a group of people who like to get together every month or so for Zombie Walk. It is what it sounds like: they dress up as zombies and stumble around downtown groaning at passersby for no particular reason other than that they want to and they can. It's not my cup of tea but it's up there on the list of enjoyable local phenomena.

Anyhow, what day do you suppose the GOP picked to send Palin, by then a liability, to speak in Asheville? That's right: Zombie Walk day, Sunday before Halloween, barely a week before the election. Here's what it looked like:

I didn't have my camera with me that day, unfortunately!

15 April 2010


I am a bit of politics junkie, so I have been glued to the television tonight. Many people are worried (rightly, in my opinion) about the creeping Americanisation of British politics but, having watched both the chancellor's debate and tonight's Prime Ministerial debate, I don't think one need worry much.

The set up and form of the debate was quite similar to that of the American debates. The content and style were hardly anything like. In America, our major debate points the last time around were Joe the plumber, 'drill, baby, drill', and assorted personal remarks about the past lives of each of the candidates. We are also still debating the legality of abortion, whether same sex couples should be recognised in any way by local, state and federal authorities and whether everyone should have access to healthcare. In Britain, the major debate points were the relative validity of Keynesian economics and the contents of actual policies relevant to actual issues that actually exist, rather than ideological point-scoring.

However, I was disappointed in the quality of the oratory. On the whole, I would say that Britain's politicians are the better speakers. I love to watch parliament, especially question time while C-Span coverage of the House and Senate bore me to tears. It's not that any of them was particularly bad, more that none of them was particularly good. It would be good, before the next election, to consider finding a debate format that would better reflect the oratorical praxis of Great Britain. Then again, I've been a bit spoiled by watching this man speak*:

* I filmed this myself when Obama came to speak in Asheville. The shaky camera work comes courtesy of lithium.

02 April 2010

Appropos of Absolutely Nothing

I was looking at facebook this evening when this tryptich of advertisements caught my eye:

Just about sums it up, doesn't it?