Funny GIF of Laura Ingraham realizing that she's Nazi saluting at the Republican National Convention


They demand we use a proof-beyond-any-doubt standard, basically.


If you want to get right down to it, the academic specialities concerned with symbolism include “Iconography” and “Semiotics”, as well as various schools of anthropology.


Meh. Probably not a Nazi. Probably.


Would you say it was


Love that song (and Andrew Bird)


Like a lot of psych/neuro stuff, it’s not a thing that’s completely outside of the normal continuum of human variation; it’s more a case of something being ramped up to the point that it becomes seriously impairing.

Tourette’s is probably related to dopaminergic dysfunction. The main roles of dopamine in the brain are attention and impulse control, which probably explains why dopaminergic drugs like opiates tend to be strongly addictive.

For addiction, it’s a double whammy; not only do you get impaired impulse control, you also get rewired so that the drug of addiction is a very strong attractor of attention. That factor is kind of a chemical hijacking of the pair-bonding system (i.e. love, lust, family), which is also heavily dopamine-dependent. Neurologically, the brain activity you get after a shot of heroin (for example) is rather similar to what you get when you look at your spouse or child.

Re: Tourette’s, we’ve all got a bunch of half-formed impulses constantly bubbling away in our heads, most of which never see behavioural expression unless they’re accompanied by a surge of dopamine. But my dopamine system is apparently fucked up, so the normal “static” of background brain activity gets amplified into physical action.

There’s a related mechanism underlying Huntington’s Chorea (AKA “St Vitus’ Dance”) and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is pretty much reverse Huntington’s; instead of causing tics and tremors, it causes frozen immobility. They’re both caused by progressive neurodegeneration in the dopamine circuitry of the basal ganglia.

The writhing tremors commonly associated with Parkinson’s aren’t actually the result of the disease; they’re instead a side-effect from the dopaminergic medication used to “unfreeze” Parkinson’s patients.


I’m guessing you’ve probably read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat…there’s a chapter about a jazz drummer with Tourette’s whose improvisation skills seemed linked to the disorder, at least subjectively. IIRC, he worked out a system with Dr. Sachs where he would take his medication early in the week to help suppress the Tourette’s symptoms during the work week, but ease up on the dosage later in the week to allow him to drum better on the weekends. I was reminded of that by your comment about half-formed impulses seeing vs. not seeing behavioral expression.

Thanks for the interesting comments! (This is the sort of thing that makes me think going off topic isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)


Saw the movie trailer for that last night. So absurdist.


The book was bad, like really bad.

The last straw was the description of the virus. MAJOR plot spoilers ahead:

[spoiler] The conceit of the book is that the world is overpopulated, so this guy created a virus to thin out the population a bit. The virus does so by rendering a third of the infected (randomly selected) infertile. The designer of the virus compares this to how a plague would kill about a third of the population before dying out.

Now, I can’t talk about how viruses work, and whether that would be remotely plausible (the “at random” seems especially dubious, though). But comparing a one-time die-off of 30% to a continued 30% drop in birth rate is one thing (the one is a rather large but temporary dip in the ever-growing population graph, the other is a long-tailed descent into extinction). The incredible failure of math skills is another.

The biggest problem with this virus is that if you have two people who each have a 1/3 chance of being infertile, then the chance of them both being fertile is (2/3)*(2/3) = (4/9) = 44.4%. That’s not a 30% decrease, that’s over half.

I did the math and I think it worked out to about twenty generations before the complete extinction of the human race (even factoring in a genetic immunity to the virus similar to the numbers of people immune to HIV).

I get it that Dan Brown books are light on accuracy and heavy on narrative convenience, but I expect a scientist character to possess basic math skills.[/spoiler]


If the first generation is made 1/3 infertile, the second generation is going to be strongly selected for immunity/nonselection. It’ll probably breed out in a generation or two.


Has the GOP yet explained it as saying she’s just doing the original Pledge of Allegiance Bellamy salute?


I disagree.

The infertility isn’t genetic, it’s viral, and affects each generation “randomly.” So, if there is selection, it’ll be for immunity to the virus, not due to any selection criteria (because there supposedly are none).
When I tried to work the numbers out, I plugged into my model a recessive genetic immunity to the virus on the same scale as HIV-immunity (I think it was something like a 1% carrier rate and a .25% immunity rate), and it only pushed the extinction back one or two generations. I had to bump the immunity rate up to about 2-3% and have the fertile pairings each have ~4 kids each generation in order for the immunity to spread widely enough to get the population bottoming out anywhere above 0.
So, if it’s based on an influenza or rhinovirus strain, or something else that we already have wide groups of immunity to, then sure. We’d be immune to it in a few generations. However, the book seems to imply that everyone will be infected, and that it’s not going to do any harm other than the infertility (so there’s no real reason for the immune system to put in a big effort to fight it off and create antibodies).
Again, my problem isn’t with the extinction (which I could be wrong about), so much as with the basic math failure of a scientist that causing a 33% infertility rate would cause a ~33% drop in population of the next generation, as opposed to a ~55% drop in population.


That’s a bit out of Mein Kampfort zone.


I liked it better when it was the series “Utopia”!

But your 44.4% figure assumes that people always pair off into permanent couples to reproduce. People might instead choose to try numerous partners until they achieve pregnancy.


I guess I’m fundamentally rejecting the notion of a “random” effect on each infected individual. The virus will either affect each person or not, and there will have to be a reason for whether it does. Since being affected = 0% reproduction, 100% of the following generation will descend from people who for whatever physiological reason were not sterilized, and it seems highly likely that resistance to the virus’s effects would be heritable.




Of course it can! Anybody can do it. The fact that some will probably jump to conclusions about one is not the same as preventing one from doing it. That’s self-censorship, and can be overridden by a simple decision.



Me, I’m one of those people who thinks it’s intentional. They are relying on that community for donations.