Monday, July 25, 2011

subjectivity and consciousness, again

Well now that that whole debt crisis is over and the US economy is back to being awesome! (Oh wait...) Earlier this summer I wrote a couple of posts about philosophy of mind. I got all excited about it, and even bought two books off Amazon while I was away, planning to supplement my uninformed ramblings with some solid backing from knowledgeable sources. Then I lost my backpack with both the books in it, just as I was just getting into them, so that plan was out the window. But back in Evanston, equipped miraculously with a new student ID that they for some reason decided to issue me after my graduation, I've found both books—and many more!—at the library. (My love for Parks & Recreation notwithstanding, it's pretty great to have access to free books all the time, especially with some glitch in the system that appears to have extended that access through 2013. Woohoo!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

a few more things i don't understand about the f***king debt ceiling

I've already noted, as have many other people with brains, that the whole "debt ceiling" thing is completely ridiculous. Congress has already approved all the money the federal government spends, as well as all revenue it receives; imposing a debt ceiling on top of existing law is nothing but a cheap gimmick, Congress' way of having its cake and eating it and then shitting all over the country's credit too. If you don't want public debt to rise above $14.3 trillion (or whatever) then why the fuck did you vote to spend so much and tax so little in the first place??

Though this appears to me to be the most fundamentally inexplicable thing about the debt ceiling, there are a number of other things that don't make sense to me. Lil' help anyone?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more on medicine

A few months ago I came across this outstandingly and amazing and fabulously terrific article from a few years ago in the New Yorker. (I don't know how I missed it the first time around in 2008, but my god I made a huge mistake in doing so). In the article Gawande talks about the failure of conventional medical wisdom to explain things like chronic itching or sensations in phantom limbs, in heart-wrenching—and also somewhat terrifying—fashion. He starts to hint at how a not-really-so-recent-anymore revolution in cognitive psychology—suggesting that our perception of bodily sensations is much more brain-directed, or "top-down," than we intuitively believe—is juuuuust barely starting to influence medicine, where that influence is long overdue. The article will fascinate almost anyone but it resonated especially with me due to my history of chronic pain that was for years grossly mismanaged and misdiagnosed—at great cost—by dozens of doctors. If you haven't read the article, do yourself a favor and read the article; it's worth half an hour of your time.