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mythistory
  • 31078.0706

    Lisa Miller uses Xanax and describes in New York Magazine a culture of fear endlessly popping chemical shields to a key mammalian growth mechanism: anxiety. A must-read for anthropologists, sociologists, and public health thinkers, a quote:

    "Xanax and its siblings—Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and other members of the family of drugs called benzodiazepines—suppress the output of neurotransmitters that interpret fear. They differ from one another in potency and duration; those that enter your brain most quickly (Valium and Xanax) can make you the most high. But all quell the racing heart, spinning thoughts, prickly scalp, and hyperventilation associated with fear’s neurotic cousin, anxiety, and all do it more or less instantly. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines have risen 17 percent since 2006 to nearly 94 million a year; generic Xanax, called alprazolam, has increased 23 percent over the same period, making it the most prescribed psycho-pharmaceutical drug and the eleventh- most prescribed overall, with 46 million prescriptions written in 2010. In their generic forms, Xanax is prescribed more than the sleeping pill Ambien, more than the antidepressant Zoloft. Only drugs for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol do better.

    “Benzos,” says Stephen Stahl, chairman of the Neuroscience Education Institute in Carlsbad, California, and a psychiatrist who consults to drug companies, “are the greatest things since Post Toasties. They work well. They’re very cheap. Their effectiveness on anxiety is profound.”

  • 31060.1136

  • 31053.1223

  • 31046.2353

    "Each epoch dreams its successor." - Michelet

    Full Text of the book

  • 31041.1540

    The last three Star Wars films may not be everyone's cup of tea. But under the surface, the tea is not what it seems to be. If you're in cognitive-science, neuroscience, or study future forms of media, George Lucas is the only living director pushing film into the fully symbolic.

    We can talk about the opening shot. He begins with the first iteration of the Death Star, here an element of this Star Destroyer sized object. Look carefully, it even has the equatorial trench and a radar dish that evolves into its death beam. The sphere is sourced loosely in earlier drafts of the Death Star's design in 1975, before the perfect sphere was chosen. Now it's a part of the Trade Federation Droid Control Ship, the lead ship among this blockade but visually indistinguishable from the other ships that ring this planet. The Trade Federation ships, by surrounding the planet and creating an impenetrable shield, prevent ships from approaching, achieving the last chess stroke of war before the Death Star's arrival one-ups this act, planetary immolation. We won't embargo you, we'll threaten the end. And the design of the ship metaphorically shows a sphere ringed, like the planet below. Though this resembles the setting of Return of the Jedi, it behaves like the opening of A New Hope, reversed. There a Blockade Runner attempts escape, here a similar looking ship (also the first design of the same ship) approaches a blockade. Enters it. The precise opposite.This fragmentation of meaning and direction continues deeper. And it becomes much stranger, and it's in PG.

    Lucas's initial sketches to show Ralph McQuarrie, his early conceptual painter, what the vehicles looks like, right early Death Star.

     

  • 31038.0842

    An excerpt from the New York Review of Books's We're more unequal than you think:

    Using US Census reports, I estimate that since 1985, the lower 60 percent of households have lost $4 trillion, most of which has ascended to the top 5 percent, including a growing tier now taking in $1 million or more each year.1 Some of our founders foresaw this happening. “Society naturally divides itself,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, “into the very few and the many.” His coauthor, James Madison, identified the cause. “Unequal faculties of acquiring property,” he said, inhere in every human grouping. If affluence results from inner aptitudes, it might seem futile to try reining in the rich.

  • 31037.2242

    Prosecutors hit Calabrese with an extortion charge for allegedly participating in a heated sit-down to discuss a financial settlement over a secret pizza sauce recipe that a Bonanno-associated Staten Island pizza joint allegedly stole from Brooklyn’s L&B Spumoni Gardens, which has ties to the Colombo crime family. Calabrese was caught on a secret FBI tape saying, “I went there and argued . . . I f--king had a screaming match with the f--king Colombo guys for three hours.”

  • 31030.1743

    This revealing, staccato biography of the sometimes mythic retaker of Jerusalem and uniter at times of the Eastern, Arabic and Persian worlds, Anne-Marie Eddé tackles the subject in several phases: dry history, military strategies, religious aspects, myths of both the demonizing and lionizing kind. Oblique at times, Saladin cannot be perceived as a complete narrative biography (events like the siege of Acre are only partly described, stories of places like Tyre are left unfinished) but it searches for deeper meaning with a variety of views. For a time, Saladin's realpolitik empire spanned deep Egypt to beyond Syria and Beirut, and it required an as yet unseen mastery of both diplomacy and risk. Many gestures divided enemies and allies, deftly. Aspects of duty, taxation, customs, even seasonal challenges like winter storms halting sea-trade are laced with personality and conflicts. Poetry, diaries, contracts are all cited to great effect. Several oft repeated tales drive the effects home, including the determinism to die poor: at death he had only a few dinars left. Nuances like short histories of the sultan/Seljuk title, interspersed, are amazing. At times a travelogue tragedy. An ocean of desert at night for a knife at throat bedouin raid, the march of entire cities leaving every valuable behind while others are left untouched. In between slaughter is chivalry, common good will, suicidal assasin sects, wholesale ransoming, pilgrimages, somehow proof humans achieve their sense of greatness only on a vast scale. And in human cost. Extensive quotes from William of Tyre.  The cover above is from the french original.   Translated.  Harvard-Belknap Press.

    Saladin's Palace, Syria

  • 31030.1716

  • 31029.2255