Saturday, November 24, 2012

Are ADHD drugs the way to a lower crime rate?

A new study claims that people with ADHD are less likely to committee crime if they are taking appropriate medication.  It makes you wonder how much better the world might be if everyone received proper medical treatment.

ADHD Drugs Help Curb Criminal Behavior

Older teens and adults with attention deficit disorder are much less likely to commit a crime while on ADHD medication, a provocative study from Sweden found.
It also showed in dramatic fashion how much more prone people with ADHD are to break the law — four to seven times more likely than others.
The findings suggest that Ritalin, Adderall and other drugs that curb hyperactivity and boost attention remain important beyond the school-age years and that wider use of these medications in older patients might help curb crime.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is homosexuality a choice? Does it matter?

It is amazing how much time is spent on the question of how much choice a persons has in their sexual orientation.  Here is a great article from Scientific American on the issue.

Is Homosexuality a Choice?

Ask this question, and you will probably receive one of two responses:
Yes. People choose to be gay. They are making an immoral choice, which government should discourage. 
No. Sexual preference is biologically determined. Government should protect gay people from discrimination because homosexuality is an unalterable aspect of their identity.
These two answers have something in common: With both of them, the science conveniently supports the moral decision.
Although I find the question fascinating from a scientific viewpoint, it is a question that ultimately just shouldn't matter.  Even if sexual orientation was a choice, does that change anything?  Why would that make it any more or less acceptable?  Why someones sexuality matters to anyone else is something I have just never understood.  Why should I care who someone is attracted to?  How does the sexual orientation of someone else matter to me?

I just don't understand why people discriminate based on sexual orientation.  I can understand how someone might think homosexuality is a sin but there are plenty of other sins that people do all the time and it doesn't result in nearly the same amount of outrage.  Can someone please explain why sexual orientation is still such a big deal?

Monday, November 19, 2012

How Eastern and Western cultures approach the struggle to learn

Just listened to a great NPR story about cultural views on learning.  In the west we often associate struggling to learn a topic as a sign that you are not very smart.  In the east, struggle is viewed as more of an opportunity to show that you will work hard and figure out the topic.  Both approaches have their pros and cons and each culture could learn from the other.

In my own life I have noticed that when i struggle with a topic it can be devastating to my self-esteem and motivation.  I instantly jump to the conclusion that I am just not smart enough.  Since most things come fairly easy to me I have not yet come up with cognitive strategies to deal with struggling to learn a topic.

Link to the story is below and I HIGHLY recommend listening to it.

Have you experienced this?  Anyone grow up in the east an able to comment on the story?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Research paper of the day: Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?


Could it be that the best way to combat the epidemic of depress that we find in moder society is just to eat more vegetables?  This new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research argues it might. 

Humans run on a fuel called food. Yet economists and other social scientists rarely study what people eat. We provide simple evidence consistent with the existence of a link between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and high well-being. In cross-sectional data, happiness and mental health rise in an approximately dose-response way with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables. The pattern is remarkably robust to adjustment for a large number of other demographic, social and economic variables. Well-being peaks at approximately 7 portions per day.

Well I think I am going to start eating way more fruits and vegetables, how about you?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review of the new Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

I have been a fan of Battlestar Galactica ever since I saw the original series in reruns as a kid.  Although the acting, writing, or special effects were never great.  The story was always strong and the universe was exciting to explore.  The re-imagined BSG and the prequel series Caprica were, in my opinion, some of the best television made in the last decade.

Unfortunately Blood and Chrome reminds me more of the original series than the newer version.  The acting is rather poor, the writing is cliche, and the special effects look like something that was made for the Xbox.  Still, the story is exciting and I am surprisingly happy to get to visit the BSG universe once again.  So far the series has improved with every episode so there is hope it might end on a high note.

I highly recommend all BSG fans to check the series out.  The first episode is only 12 minuets long and you should know if you like it pretty quickly.  If you were not a fan of BSG already then there isn't much here for you and should check out a much better and more interesting series H+.  Both are currently available on Youtube and embedded below for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Oregon did not legalize Marijuana

One of the few surprising things to happen in the 2012 election was the failure of Oregon to legalize marijuana.  Oregon is pretty liberal when it comes to marijuana and currently if you are found to have under an ounce the legal ramifications are fairly minor.  Oregon also has a medical marijuana law that allows just about anyone to get a card to legally smoke pot.

So why did Oregonians not support making the current laws even more liberal?  I have a few theories.

1.  Oregon hates the OLCC and this would create yet another bureaucracy just like it

For those unfamiliar with the OLCC it is the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.  I very much doubt there is a government agency that Oregonians hate more than the OLCC.  They make it incredibly hard to buy liquor in the state and have enough restrictions that music venues often have to jump through a crazy number of hoops to allow people to have a beer while watching a band.  If you move to Oregon and like to have a drink once in a while you will quickly learn to hate the absurd rules that the OLCC has.

The ballot measure to legalize marijuana would have created an OLCC like bureaucracy to manage marijuana production and distribution.  This probably would have made it more difficult and expensive to get marijuana for the average smoker and might have even hurt quality.

2.  Pot is already widely available, cheap, and good quality

Although I don't smoke, it is my understanding that there is currently no issue in getting marijuana whenever you want anywhere in the state of Oregon.  It is supposedly decently priced and good quality.  For many smokers why would you want to mess with that?  Especially if it means creating a system like the OLCC.

3.  People benefit from the current system too much

Another issue or legalization is that many otherwise law abiding citizens already make a living from the growth and distribution of marijuana.  Many of these people do so under the medical marijuana laws already on the books.  Although there would be a chance that they could profit even more from full legalization, I'm not sure if that is something you would want to risk your livelihood on.

So in the end the current system of mostly illegal marijuana actually serves smokers rather well and I'm not sure the pro-legalization people made the case that changing the law would actually improve anything for the vast majority of marijuana smokers or suppliers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

I decided that I wanted to try reading something a little different than my usual non-fiction and scifi book so when a friend of mine from Taiwan recommend A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers I figured I might as well give it a try and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed reading this book.

The book is a diary of a young woman  from China who goes to London to study English and ends up in a relationship with an older man.  It explores the issue of cross cultural communication and more generally how different people express and experience love.  In the end it is a coming of age tale about how she becomes an adult women who is fully in charge of her own life and does not let her family or lovers define her.

The novel itself is very short but satisfying and is one of the few books that I think makes me a better person for having read it.  Since I have been in relationships with people from China and other cultures the book really struck a cord and I could see much of my past relationships, both the highs and lows, in this fictional relationship.  I am not usually one for novels about relationships and emotions but this one I felt was very well done.

If you have any interest in cross cultural relationships or just want a novel that is a nice change of pace then I highly recommend A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics

China is often considered to be a bit of a paradox in the economic development profession.  It is commonly said that it did not follow the common route of development with deregulation and liberalization of the economy.  This book offers compelling evidence that China might not be that different after all.

The author digs deeply into government records to find that the key to understanding China's growth is not by studying the pro-urban state led capitalism that was done in the 1990's but instead looking at the rural entrepreneurship of the 80's that laid the groundwork for the spectacular growth that China has seen over the last 30 years.  He also dispels many myths about companies like Lenovo who are today seen as being an example of how China can create strong innovative companies but are actually questionably Chinese.

This book can at times get a bit bogged down in number and details but in the end it is a rather fast paced and exciting read that gives you a whole new view of what has been happening in China over the last 30 years, why it is important, and what challenges China may have in the future.

I highly recommend that you read this book. Right now the price is rather high on Amazon but it appears that I can loan out my Kindle edition. So if you are interested please contact me.