Individual Americans show Vladimir Putin how tough we can be

“More than 1,000 gather at SF’s City Hall to protest Russian invasion of Ukraine” (SFGate, 2/4/2022) will no doubt strike fear in the hearts of the any foreign military. The accompanying photo shows that a handful of the Followers of Science are equipped with hearts brave enough to go outdoors without a protective cloth mask (our 6-year-old pointed out, however, that “one has a chin diaper”):

The bellicosity of this partially masked Army of the Righteous is described in the text:

Many waved blue and gold Ukrainian flags, and there was a sea of signs within the crowd. Some read “Russians Go Home,” “No USSR 2.0” and “Support Ukraine.” Expressing both sadness and anger, the crowd chanted “Stop Putin” and “Hands of Ukraine.”

“The reason I’m here is to raise awareness of Putin’s war and show the world that Ukrainians in America stand with those in Ukraine,” said SF resident Andy Soluk, who held a flag.

While the shooting war raged and folks in San Francisco were sending thoughts and prayers, what other foes were significant enough to get the attention of the Army of the Righteous? Were they, perhaps, fighting to provide housing for the thousands of their brothers, sisters, and binary resisters who live in Bay Area tent cities? Working with Barack Obama to continue the planet healing that began in 2008? Here’s a February 25, 2022 letter from administrators at University of California Berkeley:

The campus leadership recognizes that it’s hard to adjust to the reality of masks no longer being required (even if they’re still recommended in some settings). That’s why our campus will be one of the last places in the Bay Area to still require masks prior to when our mandate is lifted on March 7. These changes are indeed difficult and I encourage anyone who would feel more comfortable wearing a mask to continue to do so. But I also encourage you to grapple with the fact that the consensus within the public health community is that it is no longer necessary to mandate masking.

Imagine the tenacity and inner strength of a person who can surmount the trifecta of (1) adjusting to reality, (2) coping with the difficult mask order change, and (3) grappling with the new facts of Science!

(Separately, regarding the impending mask-optional vaccine-and-booster-required Berkeley campus, Science tells us that (1) mask orders and vaccine coercion were highly effective at reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections and (2) the virus will be with us forever, including in potentially dangerous new mutants, Combining (1) and (2), it makes logical sense to drop these proven-effective-by-Science policies and let any future plague rage exponentially. Now that those who Follow Science know exactly how to fight COVID-19, they aren’t going to bother to exert any effort in that fight.)

And, in case that you think the valorous are limited to San Francisco, a friend in Colorado sent me the following today:

I sat in on the Zoom call our public health dept had on ending mask mandate a week ago. When asked why if they decided to end it on Monday the end wouldn’t go into effect till Friday they said they had to give people time to absorb and adjust to the new reality.

I also loved that they are voting on, and agreed to, ending a mask mandate on a zoom meeting because it was still too risky to meet in person.

Fortunately, many local business have followed the science and kept their own mandates in place.

On a vaguely related theme of cultural difference, can readers who speak Russian please tell us what the Russian recruitment video says? And, if military service is compulsory for Russian males, why do they have recruiting videos at all?

And our state-sponsored media (NPR) reminds us to curl up into the fetal position. From “5 ways to cope with the stressful news cycle” (2/25/2022; URL: “anxiety-tips-self-care”):

Russia invaded Ukraine this week, … don’t forget to care for yourself in other ways … Breathe … Nourish yourself. The kitchen is a safe space for a lot of us.

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University of Nevada students prove that Freud was right about the super-ego?

From Wikipedia’s entry on Id, ego and super-ego:

The super-ego (German: Über-Ich) reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence. Freud developed his concept of the super-ego from an earlier combination of the ego ideal and the “special psychical agency which performs the task of seeing that narcissistic satisfaction from the ego ideal is ensured…what we call our ‘conscience’.” For him “the installation of the super-ego can be described as a successful instance of identification with the parental agency,” while as development proceeds “the super-ego also takes on the influence of those who have stepped into the place of parents — educators, teachers, people chosen as ideal models”. [Fauci!]

The super-ego aims for perfection. It forms the organized part of the personality structure, mainly but not entirely unconscious, that includes the individual’s ego ideals, spiritual goals, and the psychic agency (commonly called “conscience”) that criticizes and prohibits their drives, fantasies, feelings, and actions.

“UNR students walk out to protest end of campus mask mandate” (NBC, 2/14/2022):

UNR students and some faculty walked out Monday to protest the end of the Nevada mask mandate.

About 50 students marched from the north end of campus down to the quad, calling on President Brian Sandoval to reinstate the mask requirement on campus.

The video shows that quite a few of the Science-following students have chosen to protect themselves from deadly aerosol SARS-CoV-2 by wearing cloth masks.

Only very loosely related… a photo from the Blue Angels performing at the Reno Air Races 2016:

and three World War II fighters racing…

(Flying 70-year-old planes close to the ground at 500 mph was safe, but being outdoors in the desert in the fall of 2020 was unsafe and therefore the 2020 races were canceled.)

The tastefully understated downtown….

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Medical School 2020, Year 3, Week 31 (psych week 1)

A chapter on diseases of the brain, perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day… (an MIT Economics professor back in the early 1980s told us that romantic love was a mental defect. “You’re giving control over your happiness to another person.” (The no-fault divorce revolution wasn’t fully established at the time, so he didn’t mention that losing more than half of one’s earnings and wealth was also a common outcome…))

Psychiatry clerkship begins with orientation in the clerkship director’s large office. The pediatric psychiatrist makes us all sign that we have reviewed the safety HR training modules and then summarizes them: “When entering the unit, make sure no one is behind or near the door. And don’t wear earrings or necklaces.” [One of Jane’s patients pulled a hoop earring off a nurse, tearing through her ear lobe.] He goes through the required clerkship competencies, including several lectures. He confides, “I feel bad about all the hurdles you have to go through. The more I complain, the more metrics they create. It’s a losing battle, I just gave up.”

After orientation, our team meets on the inpatient psychiatry unit: attending, two social workers, care team leader (CTL, head nurse), and one medical student (me!). We will take care of roughly 10 patients at a time. The attending, a 64-year-old former astrophysicist, who looks and sounds like Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) in Good Will Hunting, introduces himself then instructs the resident to lead rounds. My resident, a star second-year resident (PGY-2) wearing a stylish polo and sleek slacks, takes me aside: “Today, just watch how we round on patients. Tomorrow ,you’ll lead the interviews for each patient.” He continues: “The inpatient unit is the ICU of psychiatry. Our goal is not to cure them; it is crisis stabilization. If they tried to commit suicide, stabilize their mood and coordinate outpatient resources after hospitalization.”

Rounds begin and are a whirlwind of new patient cases. He presents the first patient outside her dorm room: “32-year-old female with several psychosocial stressors overdosed on Xanax. She is engaging in group classes and denies SI [suicidal ideation].” The resident: “Sometimes the patient just needs to get out of the stressful environment. The average length of stay for a patient is six days. The rack rate is $18,000 per day, but most insurance reimburses about $2,000 per day. Insurance will ask what we did, and the answer is ‘not much except continue her medications and encourage her to use the milieu [group classes, normalization from speaking to other patients]’.”

The next patient is a 43-year-old schizophrenic with ID [intellectual disability] who came in an acute psychotic episode. Our resident: “Schizophrenia is a brain attack, just like an MI [myocardial infarction]. If we don’t prevent it, it will happen again, and the patient loses brain cells each time.” He has been admitted three times within the past two months to our unit, and had several inpatient stays at state hospitals within the past few years. He lives in a “group home.” Attending: “These are basically nursing homes for mentally unstable individuals. Most are run by national companies. They make a fortune.” The patient presented with auditory hallucinations telling him the devil is inside him.

Our goal is for him to be given a long term injection of antipsychotics to prevent medication noncompliance. He is on a TDO (temporary detention order) and, because we have the alternative of giving him daily pills, he has the option of declining the injection. If he declines the injectable, we could try to get a judicial override, a tough argument when there is a conceivable way for him to take his PO meds. The resident says that he has seldom seen a judicial override applied for and never seen one granted, even for patients who are admitted every 2-3 weeks (paid for by Medicare/Medicaid).

We walk in and introduce ourselves. He is restless, withdrawn, and delivers literal responses with a flat affect. Can you tell us how you slept? “Yes.” As the resident struggles to get substantive answers, Robin Williams interjects: “Okay, Johnny, we’ll we will be outside if you want to talk to us.” He then explains: “Don’t let the patient take control of the interview. Watch, in a few hours he’ll be wandering the halls searching for you.” I ask about his restlessness. “That’s a sign of someone who has been schizophrenic since a young age. It soothes him. Schizophrenia is a devastating disease. People with bipolar and depression can be highly accomplished individuals, but you never hear of accomplished schizophrenics. They don’t exist, because the disease will devastate their intellect and motivation.”

On Thursday we discharge the patient after he agreed to get the long term injectable shot. We learn the next day that the Medicaid cab driver kicked him out at a gas station two miles away from his group home. “Fortunately, he walked the remaining distance back to his group home, but we definitely have a protocol issue,” said the resident. “The cab drivers need to know they have to drop these patients off at the specified destination, and if there is some sort of trouble, they should call the police.” Attending: “There is also a presumption that if we are discharging the patient, he/she should be sufficiently medically stable to not get kicked out of a cab.”

The next patient is a 45-year-old bipolar type 1 who stopped taking her meds because she felt good. Five days later she presented in a manic episode with SI. She has several psychosocial stressors: (1) custody litigation regarding an 8-year-old son, (2) the boy’s father taking him across state lines without her permission, (3) a 25-year-old daughter living with a “strange man” in her garage, and (4) the daughter’s theft of $100,000 from a neighbor’s house. She is afraid that her daughter might go to prison and that she herself is being investigated “because I did not call the police for a few days after learning about the theft.”

[Editor: If the patient’s memory can be relied on, the fact that the 25-year-old stole $100,000 and remains free is a great argument for identifying as a white woman!]

Our next patient is a 24-year-old male presenting for SI with plan. He is either delusional or merely extremely high on marijuana. [Editor: We were informed by our political leaders in Massachusetts that marijuana is the best medicine for most conditions and, indeed, marijuana retail was considered “essential” and remained open while schools were shut for coronapanic.] He is obsessed with finding his real parents: Michael Jackson and Halle Berry. The rumor on the floor from the nurses is that his listed “father” in Epic is actually his older brother, and his Epic “mother” is the brother’s male-to-female transgender girlfriend. Attending: “Do you think these wacko family arrangements are dependent on SES [socioeconomic status]? Or do you think lower SES just can’t hide it as well? I tell you, humans are a sick, sick species.” For the benefit of the nurses and patients, our patient performs a pre-discharge moonwalk and a cappella R&B song (self-written and composed). Resident, impressed by the show: “Hey, maybe he is the son of Michael Jackson.”

Our next patient is a 19-year-old African American found lying in the middle of a congested road blocking traffic. “I thought if a car hits me, fine,” she says. “If not, they’ll bring me in so I can speak to a psychiatrist. I want to know if I can stop taking my medications so I can get pregnant.” She has a history of bipolar disorder, but has not been able to afford her medications for several months. A case manager signs her up for Medicaid based on her lack of employment. During a phone call with her boyfriend, he informs her that she might have gonorrhea. We consult a hospitalist to deal with this.

Our next patient is a 38-year-old Caucasian polysubstance abuser. He could go home, but he has “several crack ladies” living in his house. He says that they refuse to leave and injected him against his will. I ask whether he could go to a church-run rescue mission. Our resident: “Yes, but people hate those places because you have to hand over all your money so you can’t buy drugs. When they leave, they then  have to beg for money to get drugs. He needs to kick out the women from his crack den house.”

We finish rounds in time for a new admission, a 34-year-old morbidly obese African American G3P2 bipolar at 35 weeks with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. There are multiple fetal anomalies and a planned C-section at 36 weeks. Her prior two children were “adopted out” [Resident: “that’s usually lingo for removal by CPS”]. She receives disability payments based on diagnoses of bipolar disorder and anxiety. Roughly three weeks ago, she was feeling so good that she decided to stop taking her anti-psychosis medications. This resulted in a two-week manic episode with no sleep. The crash came yesterday and she tried to kill herself with an overdose of Geodon. Every few hours, all night and day, she says that she is having labor contractions, which forces the nurse to cart her off to L&D. The folks there refuse to do the C-section any earlier than 36 weeks, so the result is a standoff between psych and L&D.

Friday is a rainy day. Our resident: “When it rains it pours. We expect a significant surge in admissions whenever there is bad weather.” We skip rounds to admit the first patient, a 45-year-old African American cocaine addict presenting for suicidal ideation and hallucinations. He’s on disability due to back pain. The resident and I go back after our initial H&P to chat with him in the afternoon. We talk about basketball for 45 minutes. Our patient won state championships in high school, but never played in college. “NBA players are sissies compared to back in the day. The rules don’t allow you to touch the other guy. You cannot compare the old players to the current players scoring.” As the completely coherent and wide-ranging conversation winds down, the resident says, “Come on man, you made this up didn’t you? It’s nothing personal, we know you know what to say to get admitted.” Our patient: “Yeah.”

(We learn that the patient is a regular at the community basketball gym where our resident also occasionally plays. The resident takes the patient’s phone number. “I plan to play with him; neat guy.”)

The last patient I see is a 38-year-old nurse with a history of alcoholism. She has had multiple intervals of sobriety, most recently for ten years. She relapsed last week due to stress from the car accident death of her 45-year-old husband. She tells us that she passed out in her car in the outside clinic parking lot and the next thing she remembers is being in the emergency room. The social worker later finds out that she actually clocked into work, but passed out in front of the physician before the first patient arrived. Her blood alcohol level was .35 (the legal limit for driving is 0.08; 0.40 will kill half of adults who don’t have significant tolerance).

She recounts being beaten as a child by her alcoholic parents and being forced by them to consume alcohol at age 9. Robin Williams asks the social worker to see if we can help her to keep her job. He takes over the interview and asks whether she has completed the 4th (confession of sins to another) and 5th (making amends) steps in Alcoholics Anonymous (yes and yes).

Outside the room, Robin Williams explains, “Try to determine if a patient with alcoholism is motivated to change. If you believe that the patient was sober for ten years, you can work with them. They can benefit from the scarce resources we provide versus the typical patient who comes in for safe detox. Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Relapse is a part

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Even with COVID-19 anxiety, there is always room for climate anxiety

For readers who demand to know why I continue to pay for a NYT subscription… “Climate Change Enters the Therapy Room” (NYT, today):

Ten years ago, psychologists proposed that a wide range of people would suffer anxiety and grief over climate. Skepticism about that idea is gone.

It would hit Alina Black in the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s, a wave of guilt and shame that made her skin crawl.

Something as simple as nuts. They came wrapped in plastic, often in layers of it, that she imagined leaving her house and traveling to a landfill, where it would remain through her lifetime and the lifetime of her children.

She longed, really longed, to make less of a mark on the earth. But she had also had a baby in diapers, and a full-time job, and a 5-year-old who wanted snacks. At the age of 37, these conflicting forces were slowly closing on her, like a set of jaws.

In the early-morning hours, after nursing the baby, she would slip down a rabbit hole, scrolling through news reports of droughts, fires, mass extinction. Then she would stare into the dark.

It was for this reason that, around six months ago, she searched “climate anxiety” and pulled up the name of Thomas J. Doherty, a Portland psychologist who specializes in climate.

Eco-anxiety, a concept introduced by young activists, has entered a mainstream vocabulary. And professional organizations are hurrying to catch up, exploring approaches to treating anxiety that is both existential and, many would argue, rational.

Though there is little empirical data on effective treatments, the field is expanding swiftly.

Caroline Wiese, 18, described her previous therapist as “a typical New Yorker who likes to follow politics and would read The New York Times, but also really didn’t know what a Keeling Curve was,” referring to the daily record of carbon dioxide concentration.

Ms. Wiese had little interest in “Freudian B.S.” She sought out Dr. Doherty for help with a concrete problem: The data she was reading was sending her into “multiday panic episodes” that interfered with her schoolwork.

Note that both patient and therapist are described as living in Portland, Oregon, but they met via videoconference.

I’m still confused how people who are convinced that 50 percent of humanity will die due to climate change can simultaneously be concerned that COVID-19 will kill up to 1 percent of humanity. (Also, the folks convinced that climate change is an existential threat tend to also be passionate supporters of unlimited migration from low-carbon-output societies to high-carbon-output societies. It is tough to think of a better way to accelerate climate doom than bringing millions of people from low-income countries to the carbon-profligate U.S.)

If you’re anxious about climate change and need a decent place to relax for the next few years, consider William Jennings Bryan’s old house in Miami. It will soon be inundated by the rising sea and can be yours for $150 million. From the preceding link, “sitting directly on the water” is a selling point.

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Psychology of Shutdown Karenism

A Facebook friend (she’s around 30 years old) psychoanalyzes those who love COVID shutdowns:

Maybe the reason people born in the 60s-90s are the biggest pro-lockdown people is that it was the “grounded generation,” where parents trying to limit or stop corporally punishing their children instead would keep them indoors, only doing necessary activities, until they’d learned their lesson — longer time periods when the misdeed was larger.

All the “fun spreads the virus” crazytown rules that people have accepted with absolutely no scientific basis for their efficacy, from curfews to live music bans to hair salon closures, align very well to what your parents would stop you from doing when you were grounded.

There’s a lot of free-floating guilt in our society and very little way to dislodge it effectively. Perhaps many of the most devoted lockdowners felt, in their heart of hearts — whether they realized it or not — like humanity needed a good grounding and to not come out until we’d changed our attitude, mister.

Her friend (actually named “Karen”!):

Yes. I think this is absolutely spot on.

From Elizabeth:

And so much of it is about making people change their attitude. People who wear masks that say “I’m only wearing this because I have to” still get treated like shit, as though they weren’t wearing masks at all. Because they dare to disagree with the status quo. It’s not enough to wear the mask… you have to love it too.

Laurel:

Hmm younger generations get banned from specific gadgets ie phone or PlayStation, so they’re being primed to associate entertainment media access with compliance.

The psychology industry has so far provided more literary interest than practical assistance and the above is certainly consistent with that history going back to Freud. (I.e., the above might not be right, but I thought that it was interesting to contemplate.)

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The more that you sacrifice in the COVID-19 fight, the more you believe the fight was worthwhile?

Part of a holiday letter from a friend in the UK:

The British are, on the whole, law abiding. The stringent measures [against COVID-19] have worked quite well, and it reminds me of what the British historian A.J. P. Taylor said about British discipline. It is a little-known fact that during the war Britain evolved, voluntarily, a far more comprehensive state-directed society than was the case in Hitler’s Germany, or anywhere else for that matter.

The old Romans chose a dictator for a limited time when the country faced a crisis. The British chose Churchill. The dictator was given unlimited powers but could at any time be deposed by Parliament. Every aspect of life was state-directed: manpower, the economy, use of housing, agriculture, industry, compulsory female conscription, public health services, welfare – everything, everything within the life of the community. Even my mother, a concert pianist, had to join the WAAF – Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. And all the nation’s town-dwelling children sent off to the country.

No country in the industrialised world had ever seen the likes of this total war mobilisation. Hitler quite simply could not risk imposing such restrictions on the German people, the restrictions, duties and self-denials which the British willingly accepted. When peace came this entire state-run apparatus was dismantled and the so-called full mobilisation left no lasting impression on society.

I am not sure we have all been dutiful and self-denying, but the results are there.

She has given up much of what formerly gave her life value and meaning. We’d met on a Northwest Passage cruise in 2019, for example. and she is a champion skier within her age group. She never married, has no children, and lives alone; quarantine/lockdown means solitary confinement. What is it that convinces her that the sacrifice was effective? It can’t be the numbers. The UK is near the top of countries ranked by COVID-19-tagged deaths (though masked-and-shut-for-10-months Massachusetts has a yet higher death rate).

Could it be the sacrifice itself that makes her think that the sacrifice was worthwhile?

From 2007:

and Oliver Cromwell, who never met an epidemiologist: “A few honest men are better than numbers”. But maybe he predicted American politics: “No one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going.”

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Academic study of virtuous victimhood from the immorality lab

“Signaling virtuous victimhood as indicators of Dark Triad personalities.” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, full text available):

The cry that one is a victim of injustice, oppression, intolerance, or any of the myriad reasons why people believe they are prevented from getting what they want in life has echoed loudly through the ages. It remains so today. … we propose that claiming victim status, an act we refer to as victim signaling, also allows victims to pursue an environmental resource extraction strategy that helps them survive, flourish, and achieve their goals in situations that are responsive to their claims. By resource extraction we mean that resources are transferred from either individuals or larger institutions (e.g., the state, organization) to the person who signals victimhood.

The obligation to alleviate others’ pain can be found in most of the world’s moral systems. It also appears to be built into the structure of the mind by evolution, as evidenced by the human tendency to feel distress at signs of suffering. It is therefore not surprising that many people are motivated to help perceived victims of misfortune or disadvantage

The four authors come from the University of British Columbia’s “Immorality Lab”:

The Immorality Lab was created in 2009 at the campus of the University of British Columbia in affiliation with Sauder School of Business and the Faculty of Psychology. The purpose of the lab is to unite a virtual community of international scholars who study the many ways people mistreat one another and contribute to the sum total of misery and unhappiness in the world.

The head of the lab describes himself as “A Leader who sets no example and “High School Graduate (w/o honors)”.

How is it possible that the Canadians are studying immorality? These are the people who have promised to take every low-skill migrant whom the U.S. rejects? (see “Why accept any refugees to the U.S. if they are welcome in Canada?” and “Can the refugee caravan at the U.S. border simply fly up to Canada?” (in which offered to spend $50,000 of my own funds to deliver migrants to Vancouver, but the Canadians did not accept the offer)) In fact, they don’t even use the word “migrant” or “immigrant,” but rather “New Canadian” or “new citizen”.

Shouldn’t an immorality lab be centered in a U.S. state that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump?

Maximum virtue on display, captured in some photos during a now-illegal trip to Toronto in March 2019:

Related:

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Power of the Media to Shape Coronaplague Beliefs

On a recent WhatsApp video call, a friend in Ireland expressed concern over the disastrous wave of deaths washing over the United States. He’d scanned newspaper headlines and had processed that coronaplague infections were at an all-time high in the U.S. He inferred from this that Americans must be dying in larger numbers than back in April, for example.

I checked the front page of the New York Times while we were chatting. Sure enough, plague is worse than ever here:

Unlike my righteous neighbors in Maskachusetts, he does not pretend to care about all humanity. So he hadn’t clicked down and scrolled through five screens to get to the following chart:

I.e., if this chart were on the front page, we might think that the plague was on its way out! (and we would, I hope, attribute this to our faith in the Church of Shutdown and the Sacrament of Masks!)

[For reference, a similar curve for never-shut never-masked Sweden (from the prophets at IHME):

]

It was interesting to learn what kind of impression our media leaves in a reader’s mind when the reader is not carefully focused on drilling down into the details.

Separately, in today’s coronasteria, the front page of the New York Times screams “Global Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses Half a Million”. Drilling down into the story, the reader will find no comparisons to what other causes of death might afflict the world’s 7.8 billion humans (none of whom are “illegal”!). He/she/ze/they will not learn that, for example, “Up to 650 000 people die of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year” (WHO).

Related:

  • Politifact rates Donald Trump’s tweet “As of June 23, the COVID-19 death rate is ‘way down.'” “mostly true” (i.e., it is “partly false” to say that a downward trend is “down”)
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