In what has to be the feel-good story of the week: Nazi rock duo Lamb and Lynx Gaede (“Prussian Blue”), who you may remember for causing a media shitstorm a few years ago for presenting themselves as the cuddly faces of white supremacy, have made a political, social and cultural full-scale about turn. If that makes you smile then the story behind the change in heart will have you checking my facts in disbelief faster than you can say “toke up”. The girls put their dark past down to being “home schooled… country bumpkins” heavily influenced by an overbearing white supremacist mother. Since then the pair have moved to Montana to go to highschool where in her first year Lynx was diagnosed with cancer which led to the removal of a tumour and cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). Lamb developed “scoliosis and chronic back pain, as well as lack of appetite and intense emotional stress”. It perhaps doesn’t take an expert to see a link between the intense emotional stress and some of the medical conditions that were troubling both of the girls. Lamb and Lynx began to use cannabis to self-medicate after Lynx had a negative reaction to the Oxycontin and Morphine she was prescribed to treat her pain. “I have to say, marijuana saved my life,” Lynx now says, “I would probably be dead if I didn’t have it”. Lynx became one of the first five minors in Montana to be issued a medical marijuana card and Lamb now has one too. Miraculously, the cannabis didn’t just cure the pain but also rekindled both their artistic flair and their passions in a far more positive light…
Lamb: “I’m not a white nationalist anymore… my sister and I are pretty liberal now”
Lynx: “Personally, I love diversity… I’m stoked that we have so many different cultures. I think it’s amazing and it makes me proud of humanity every day that we have so many different places and people… we just want to come from a place of love and light”
Lamb: “I think we’re meant to do something more — we’re healers. We just want to exert the most love and positivity we can.”
The pair now spend their time painting, repairing furniture and intend to enrol in college and dedicate themselves to the legalisation of cannabis in all 50 states.
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I almost forgot how nuts US TV got. Then I watched “The OCD project”. When I stumbled across a clip I thought it was just a charlie brookeresque satirical skit on quackery but on closer inspection it’s actually real. This program is different however, it’s so bad it’s good. In the show MTV’s Dr. David Tolin takes a group of individuals with OCD and has them “face their fears” complete with a pounding heartbeat sound track and enough “24” style video editing to convince you the show is pure fiction. On first appearances it would be fair to assume the method of treating OCD presented in the show would quite easily turn the most cool-headed of people into raving lunatics. Interestingly however it appears the methods used by Tolin are relatively effective.
Tolin begins by taking a woman with an irrational fear of running over children with her car (admittedly that’s a bit of an understatement) and has her drive around in a carpark while he runs around with handfuls of toy babies throwing them at her wind-shield.
Next our friendly doctor decides to confront a fellow patient’s fear of murdering people by having the man clutch a knife to his (Tolin’s) throat before a bizarre scene where they are introduced to a man with HIV. In the following scene Tolin takes one of the women out to french kiss petrol pumps to desensitise her to her fear of contamination.
After this a pair of the patients are arrested, have their hand prints and DNA taken and are thrown in jail in a scene that would make even Stanley Milgram wince. In the meantime the remaining members of the group take a bath together in a jacuzzi infused with urine. The show closes with the doctor organising a mock funeral for the son of a woman who has an obsessive fear that she will kill her son.
The wonderful thing about this show is how blissfully unaware it’s participant’s seem of it’s truly monumental irony. It successfully parodies every single US stereotype. Beginning with the US hockey mum with questionable driving ability riding her kids to school in a borderline monster truck 4X4, swiftly moving on to oil addiction and finishing with the prison industrial complex and stockholm syndrome. The cherry on the cake is the perfect demonstration of the ambulance chasing, wallet raiding image we have of the US medical profession, apparently confirmed under 20,000 volts of Hollywood stage lights. This is a perfectly stage managed festival of irony that will leave you thinking about far more wider issues than OCD. On the other hand I’m sure this show has trailers rocking up and down across America with rednecks howling with laughter at the “*insert curse interspersed sequence of pejorative terms here*” but personally that’s not what I got out of it, though there’s no denying it makes for amusing TV. So either this is a masterpiece of stupidity, a masterpiece of genius or the producers are just trolling.
I’m aware I haven’t given any kind of critical review of the therapy here, that can be for another day (or someone else, any psychotherapist bloggers up for a challenge?). Tolin’s therapy itself actually seems vaguely reasonable, it’s just the cringeworthy nightmarish delivery that will have you squirming in your seat. In fairness to Tolin, I’m fairly sure that’s far more MTV’s fault than Tolin’s; but hey, I doubt any one ever expected Jerry Springer to solve their relationship. On first appearances it at least seems that he’s achieved far more than that. It will be interesting to see how well supported the initial open-trial findings are supported in the long term.
Gilliam CM, Diefenbach GJ, Whiting SE, & Tolin DF (2010). Stepped care for obsessive-compulsive disorder: An open trial. Behaviour research and therapy, 48 (11), 1144-9 PMID: 20728075
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Thanks to Paul for sending me this video in response to my post on the load of dodgy “health products” I’ve seen over in the states. The video is factual, enlightening and very entertaining, though it does have that “Michael Moore style” preachy voice over. It makes some interesting arguments in both directions of a lot of interesting topics ranging from surprisingly far reaching effects of anabolic steroids on American culture and society to the worrying continuing use of amphetamines by the US air force and it’s tendency to lead to unnecessary aggression and trigger happy decisions at the command of hundred pound bombs.
NB: If you just can’t wait to get the dvd someone has put it on youtube, you can always watch it there and if you like it buy the DVD as a gift for a friend who would enjoy it or could use the advice. Personally I think that would be a much more touching anti-piracy slogan but thats just my two cents.
On the topic of America, if you plan to visit, here’s some essential reading.Follow Simon on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
Warning: This post contains satire. Satire may me harmful to your health.
Today for the first time in human history, hits from every drug ranging from ecstacy to crack cocaine can be downloaded and “I-Dosed” straight in to your brain with only a few taps of the keyboard and the click of a mouse. The only paraphenalia that is needed is a pair of headphones and a will for self destruction. Welcome to the brave new world of I-dosing.
I-dosing, Binaural Beats or Digital Drug-taking is a new scourge currently sweeping the internet by storm, it is is a grave and dangerous threat to the people of America, online dealers have sprung up everywhere to sell drugs to you and your children in the form of MP3 files.
Digital drugs can have the effects of ecstasy, heroin, crack cocaine and LSD but dealers claim they can also be used to treat insomnia, headaches, exhaustion, PMS and relieve pain. Either way, all your children have to do to obtain these drugs is type a few words in to google and hey presto they’ll be rolling around on the floor like this….
These shocking sites are even offering opportunities for your kids to work as runners, selling the drugs in a play ground near you….
So what action needs to be taken?
Due to the sudden onset and unknown effects of digital drugs we must immediately ban MP3 files containing i-doses, this action is currently being rushed through congress. This however is insufficient, due to the freedom the internet provides, idoses will remain in cirulation on file sharing networks. Further there is currently no way of telling innocent MP3 files from idoses, the only option available to the goverment is therefore to ban MP3 files. This raises the further issue that MP3 files can be converted to MP4 files or the larger WAV files, these file types must therefore also be made illegal.
Forecasters are predicting that no sooner than MP3 files, MP4 files and WAV files are, banned children will begin “zipping” idoses and sending them to each other via the internet and their mobile phones. This presents the gravest security threat to America since it was discovered that marijuana was not just a humble weed. The only solution to the problem of digital drugs is therefore to take the internet offline immediately and ban the distribution, production and appreciation of all forms of music as well as mobile phones and devices that can be used to listen to music.
…Okay okay, I’ll stop insulting your intelligence, though I hope you can see how this entire case is a fantastic metaphore for the futility of the “war on drugs”. Amazingly however, this week the media and even the authorities in parts of America are still taking this prank very seriously indeed. Schools have actually banned devices that can be used to listen to music as well as websites including youtube in response to this. Worse still, schools have used this as an excuse to enforce drugs tests on students and have written to children’s parents encouraging them to prevent children from having these devices and access to the internet.
You may wish to refrain from watching the following video from News Central, it’s pretty tedious, the droning stupidity of the correspondent and her epic failure to find anyone who has the faintest clue what they’re talking about is the stuff of legends…
Update 18/7/10 – And this story hits the big time, TIME magazine just covered the story with no analysis what so ever. Nothing can stop the crazy “soccer mums” banning their poor squealing kids from the internet now. Prepare for screaming scenes in super markets across America…. “mammmmmmmmmy I promise I won’t idose I promisseeeeeeeeeeeeee”
20/7/10 – The story reaches the Daily Mail.
Ok so what is it and how does it work?
“Binuaral beats” essentially work by playing two slightly different frequencies in each ear. The brain judges where a sound is coming from by analysing the difference betweenthe sounds in both ears. Upon hearing a binuaral beat through stereo headphones the brain is forced to conclude that the sound is emmitted from inside your own head. In theory this should be mildly confusing, in practice it sounds a bit like a vacum cleaner or a static ring depending on the variance in frequencies. FYI the first three praragraphs of the wikipedia page are generally accurate up until the word “hypothetical” at which part the bullshit meter starts to go haywire.)
What I find even more interesting however than the effect itself is that this is probably one of the most spectacular demonstrations of the placebo effect and mass hysteria ever recorded in such extraordinary detail. Binaural beats are very well understood and have been demonstrated to cause very small changes in brain activity which result in relatively negligible changes in the way we feel. However tell some kids that “this choon gonna make you trip balls” and a few of them will have the time of their lives rolling around the floor laughing their ass off.
Mass hysteria, though there have been many examples over the course of history (article coming soon) we know very little about the type of people that are affected and the mechanisms behind it. I for one would be fascinated to find out whether any of the videos on youtube are genuine hysteria or whether they are all intelligent kids ripping the piss out of their own Beaurau of Narcotics. If so this may go down as the greatest hoax since the US army fended of German troops with inflatable tanks.
If you have ever experienced binuaral beats in any way or have tricked anyone in to believeing they are high on binaural beats (with or without effect, prank or genuine, whether or not you believe this to be hysteria, placebo or the real thing) please email me a brief report in confidence at email@example.com with the subject “digital drugs”. (Any material recieved may be used for academic published works but your names and contact details will be removed)
For those of you who were pretty heart broken to discover this was all a hoax here’s a little gems especially for you. It is not a binaural beat, but whatever you do, don’t tell FRANK!
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So it’s independence day which seems like a fitting day to write something about science in America. My flatmate, a biker has been drinking this “muscle building” protein powder….
I tried some myself and we were both very surprised by the great tasting chocolate goodness (OK OK it tasted foul, just a bit less foul than the standard)… so we decided to check the label.
Upon closer inspection you can see that this “protein powder” actually has massively more sugar and nearly as much fat, over half of which is saturated fat as there is protein. You’d probably be better off eating a dohnut wrapped in Bacon*, well it’d certainly taste better.
Admittedly, this was found only a few miles down the road from the town that made Jamie Oliver cry because the kids were so fat.
One of the biggest problems America is having at the moment as you probably have heard is combating the bumper-belly causing “high fructose corn syrup“. The cause of this is mostly political – the goverment over here has dumped about $40 Billion of funding into it’s production (because corn is a cash crop and a simple manipulation makes it in to a preservative) so now it’s in literally everything, but you can learn about that yourself if you are so inclined, so how to spot it in the UK….
In the UK it’s labelled maize-syrup or glucose-fructose. Thankfully for us Brits the US are smart enough not to include it in their UK exports, (presumably because they believe we’re a bit more health conscious across the pond) but some products sneak it in. You probably want to steer clear.
*Okay you probably wouldn’t be better off eating a donut wrapped in bacon, but there again you sure as hell wouldn’t buy a doughnut wrapped in bacon as part of a body building regime.
**Apologies and congratulations to all the Americans that aren’t fat, it’s not at all easy to be healthy here
If you have any stories on shockingly bad protein powders and supplements, send them my way via firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.Follow Simon on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
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