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1
Socratic Method / Re: Legal Reasoning
« on: August 29, 2008, 09:16:31 PM »
Many people distinguish between two basic kinds of argument: inductive and deductive. Induction is usually described as moving from the specific to the general, while deduction begins with the general and ends with the specific; arguments based on experience or observation are best expressed inductively, while arguments based on laws, rules, or other widely accepted principles are best expressed deductively. Consider the following example:     

Adham: I've noticed previously that every time I kick a ball up, it comes back down, so I guess this next time when I kick it up, it will come back down, too.

Rizik: That's Newton's Law. Everything that goes up must come down. And so, if you kick the ball up, it must come down.
     
Adham is using inductive reasoning, arguing from observation, while Rizik is using deductive reasoning, arguing from the law of gravity. Rizik's argument is clearly from the general (the law of gravity) to the specific (this kick); Adham's argument may be less obviously from the specific (each individual instance in which he has observed balls being kicked up and coming back down) to the general (the prediction that a similar event will result in a similar outcome in the future) because he has stated it in terms only of the next similar event -- the next time he kicks the ball. As you can see, the difference between inductive and deducative reasoning is mostly in the way the arguments are expressed. Any inductive argument can also be expressed deductively, and any deductive argument can also be expressed inductively.

2
General Board / Help-wanted ad for nanny: 'My kids are a pain'
« on: August 29, 2008, 08:57:15 PM »
Mothers in bad mood, I guess! Take a look here:

NEW YORK - It was an unusually honest ad for a live-in nanny, a 1,000-word tome beginning, "My kids are a pain." But it worked, attracting a brave soul who's never been a nanny before. "If you cannot multitask, or communicate without being passive-aggressive, don't even bother replying," Rebecca Land Soodak, a mother of 4 on Manhattan's Upper East Side, wrote Aug. 19 in her advertisement on Craigslist. "I can be a tad difficult to work for. I'm loud, pushy and while I used to think we paid well, I am no longer sure." This being the age of instant communications, the ad took on a life of its own, making the rounds of parenting blogs and e-mail inboxes and inspiring an article in Thursday's New York Times.

Soodak, a 40-year-old painter whose husband owns a wine store, eventually hired Christina Wynn, a 25-year-old University of Virginia graduate, to take care of Rubin, 12; Ellis, 9; and Shay and Cassie, both 6. "I made a commitment to stay in the job for at least a year," Wynn told the Times. "I met the oldest child, but not the others, which my mother said was crazy — to accept the job without meeting all the kids. So we'll see." She noted that one of the pluses is that the children are all in school for several hours each day. Some other excerpts from the listing: "If you are fundamentally unhappy with your life, you will be more unhappy if you take this job, so do us all a favor and get some treatment or move to the Rockies, but do not apply for employment with us."

And this: "Also, if you suspect all wealthy women are frivolous, we are not for you." And this: "I have all sorts of theories on how to stack my dishwasher, and if you are judgmental about Ritalin for ADHD, or think such things are caused by too much sugar, again, deal-break city." No word yet on whether a sequel to "The Nanny Diaries" is in the works. Meanwhile, Soodak tells the Times: "I hope she likes it here. I sent the ad to one of my old sitters and she said she felt it was pretty accurate, which sort of stung a little bit."

3
General Board / Re: Doctors exploited; patients suffer, too
« on: August 29, 2008, 08:47:42 PM »

I am a foreign doctor (originally from Iraq) who was laid off several years back by my employer who sponsored my J-1 visa (I won the lottery fortunately that is how I got the residency) I remember it very well how hard it was to find employment - any type of employment - I guess it was because of my language skills that I got a job to survive during those hard years (I was employed by a contractor in need of translation services from Dari to English - Dari is the name given to classical Persian poetry and court language, as well as to Persian dialects spoken in Afghanistan. Various dialects of Dari are also spoken by a few people in Iran and by many in Pakistan.


So basically this Dari language is Persian?

4

There are several forms of reincarnation in many Hindu religions. In Buddhism too, a person is born and reborn dozens of times until he learns to master his emotions and desires. Life is believed to be for the purpose of overcoming the desires of the body. Through a series of births and deaths a person finally achieves Nirvana, when the cycle of births and deaths ends, and one is born no more. Nirvana is supposed to be a state of bliss where one has reached the state beyond birth and death. In some Hindu religions, one can be reborn as an animal, an insect, a worm... etc. One Indian saint told his disciples that he would come as a rat in the next life. There is an Indian temple in his honor where they still continue to feed and protect rats of the neighborhood daily for fear that one of them might be the reincarnation of that saint. There is another Hindu god, Hanuman, who was incarnated as a monkey in his last appearance. They have a temple for him too, where they feed monkeys daily, protect and care for them in the environs of the temple.


That is a good thing I guess -- it encourages people to treat other animals with respect!


Are you being sarcastic? If that's the case, I seriously urge you to reconsider your position, attitude and words!

5

Well, while delusions are a very important characteristic symptoms of Schizophrenia, hallucinations are just as significative for the diagnosis. For instance, you need only one Criterion A symptom if delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person's behavior or thoughts, or 2+ voices conversing with each other.

http://www.avatarhosting.net/pics/5117/Criteria.jpg


I see what you mean, fortune teller - Auditory hallucinations, particularly of one or more talking voices, are particularly associated with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, and hold special significance in diagnosing these conditions, although many people not suffering from diagnosable mental illness may sometimes hear voices as well. When someone hears voices conversing, they hear 2+ voices speaking to each other (usually about the person who is hallucinating). In voices commenting, the person hears a voice making comments about his/her behavior or thoughts, typically in the third person (such as, "isn't he silly"). Sometimes the voices consist of hearing a "running commentary" on the person's behavior as it occurs ("she is showering"). Other times, the voices may tell the person to do something (commonly referred to as "command hallucinations").


I tend to believe the command hallucinations are just as bad as a commentary voice or the 2+ conversing voices not only in the practical sense but also in terms of diagnosing.

6
General Board / Major drug scandal hits Marine base
« on: August 29, 2008, 08:27:16 PM »

Discussing your penis in court doesn’t stay funny for long



On the morning of his 42nd birthday, Stephen Harrell was arrested outside a liquor store on Century Boulevard in Inglewood, handcuffed, and hauled off to face the screwiest charge ever leveled at him in his admittedly checkered career with the criminal justice system. He was accused of concealing four rocks of cocaine in his foreskin. To be more precise, he was accused of wrapping the rocks in individual clear plastic bags, placing them all in another black bag, shoving them halfway up his penis and then keeping them snugly in place for at least an hour between the time of his arrest and the time that three Inglewood cops strip-searched him. The whole package was variously described by the arresting officer as being "bigger than a marble" and having roughly the same diameter as a dime.

Let me point out to those of you unendowed with male genitalia that we are talking about an almost unfathomable world of pain here, not to mention physical elasticity of a truly extraordinary kind. (Those of you with male genitalia have probably crossed your legs already.) Nothing in Harrell's long resume as a petty criminal and drug user suggests he was ever in serious contention for the cast of Puppetry of the Penis. Or, as Harrell himself put it in one of his first interviews with his defense attorney: "I may be big, but I ain't no horse." So far, just a funny story. But it only gets more bizarre on closer examination. The arresting officer, Patrick Manning, claims he saw Harrell drop a crack pipe from his waistband as soon as he became aware of his patrol car. That, at least, was the pretext for the arrest. But Harrell didn't apparently think of dumping the cocaine – assuming he ever had it in the first place. Officer Manning noticed nothing unusual about the way Harrell was walking, and once he had cuffed him and put him in the patrol car he didn't report any wriggling or gasps of pain.

The public defender eventually assigned to Harrell, Eleanor Schneir, had the bright idea of downloading some penis diagrams off the Internet and asked Officer Manning and the two colleagues he took with him into the strip-search room to show the trial jury where exactly the bulge had been. Curiously, each policeman put it in a different place. One said it was at the top, beneath the foreskin proper, while the other two put it further down and to the side. In one diagram the package was almost all the way to the base of the penis – which makes one wonder just how endowed with male genitalia the police officers themselves can have been. Schneir had great fun buying up gourmet gumballs from her local grocery store and waving them at the jury, with a dime taped to the side for size-comparison purposes, just to emphasize the preposterousness of the allegation. She cited no less an authority than Seinfeld to question whether any penis could withstand the cold of the strip-search room without succumbing to the dreaded male problem of shrinkage, which would surely have shaken the incriminating package loose all by itself.

At a certain point, it seemed Harrell was home free, and Schneir was confident enough to berate the prosecution for subjecting him to an embarrassing public spectacle. As she told the jury: "He has to sit here and hear me, his lawyer, his advocate, a woman, argue to a jury of 12 strangers that his penis is too small for this to be possible – what could possibly be more humiliating than that?" Things took an unexpected turn, however, as a batch of photographs of Harrell's genitalia was released to the court and appeared to show that he was circumcised. From Harrell's point of view, this might have looked like a pretty good defense – how, after all, can anyone conceal drugs in their foreskin if they don't have one? In reality, though, the photographs unleashed a furor in the courtroom and changed the terms of the debate entirely. Suddenly, it was not the Inglewood PD whose honesty was under scrutiny but rather Harrell's, as the defendant was accused of yanking his foreskin back for the camera in an attempt to conceal it.

In the single most surreal sequence of the trial, Officer Manning bragged that he knew all about the flexibility of uncircumcised penises because he used to play baseball for the Atlanta Braves (he was a 1999 draft pick later sidelined by a knee injury) and frequently showered with players from Colombia and Central America who not only had foreskins but were frequently "silly" with them. Manning told the prosecutor he saw players pull down their foreskins and dance around for as long as 20 minutes. Schneir wasn't going to let this one go. "I'm a little confused," she said disingenuously. "I was always led to believe that men in showers go to great lengths not to look at each other's penises, and you're telling me you looked for 20 minutes?"

Members of the jury started guffawing. Manning said sheepishly that he hadn't exactly looked for 20 minutes. So Schneir asked him how long he had looked for – 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes? Eventually, Manning said he’d looked at one penis for one minute. Schneir deadpanned: "Okay, we're all dying to know: whose penis was it?" For all the courtroom humor, from here on out the trial started slipping out of the grasp of the defense. The deputy district attorney suggested the only way to resolve the circumcision question was to have Harrell re-examined by a medical professional. Harrell told the court he'd had quite enough people looking at his penis and refused. The judge, Deirdre Hill, then instructed the jury that they were free to interpret this refusal as a form of self-incrimination. Schneir tried valiantly to argue that the circumcision question made no difference to the plausibility of the police's story. But the damage was done, and the jury came back with a guilty verdict.

That, of course, is the way so many petty crime cases go. Given the choice between a defendant of dubious character and the testimony of uniformed police officers, juries will almost always side with the police. The Harrell case reflects many of the uglier aspects of law enforcement in Los Angeles: a poor, black, relatively harmless delinquent picked up, handcuffed and stripped by white officers, and lumbered with a serious felony charge for which he has just been sentenced to six years and six months behind bars. Without the allegation of cocaine in his penis, he would have been looking at a misdemeanor and a $100 fine. There is some evidence to suggest that Officer Manning, for one, finds escapades like the apprehension of Stephen Harrell to be a bit of a hoot. Interviewed by a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina newspaper when he first made the leap from baseball to policing, he said patrolling the streets of Inglewood was not entirely unlike competitive sports. "To me, it's almost like a game," he said. "I've had a great time so far."


CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — One of the largest military drug investigations in recent years has led to the conviction of 84 enlisted Marines and sailors at Camp Lejeune. The troops were busted for using and selling Ecstasy, cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. The Marines and sailors, along with 99 civilians, were arrested in a two-year undercover investigation that also resulted in the seizure of more than $1.4 million worth of drugs. All of the convicted troops received dishonorable discharges and confinement ranging from 3-19 years, said Special Agent Robin Knapp of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The investigation began in February 2000 after Camp Lejeune officials learned that a large number of service members were frequenting clubs where designer drugs were prevalent in Wilmington, about 40 miles south of the base. Arrests were made at the base, in nearby Onslow and New Hanover counties and in Wilmington. Drug charges were filed against 84 active-duty service members, none of them officers. 61 were accused of distributing drugs and 23 were accused of using them. All but two were convicted in military court, Knapp said. Code-named Operation Xterminator, the investigation was conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service office, along with state and local authorities. Knapp called the arrests "significant" but not extraordinary. "This is not unique. This is what we do for a living," Knapp said.

Base spokesman Maj. Steve Cox said the 84 people involved make up a fraction of the 50,000 to 60,000 active-duty personnel at the sprawling coastal base. "That's 0.001% of the forces at Camp Lejeune. It's not an epidemic by any means," he said. "From a Marine Corps perspective, we view drug use as a societal issue. We would be naive to think our Marines are not using drugs." Although narcotics cases in the military are not rare, they usually involve smaller numbers of people. 38 cadets out of 4,300 at the Air Force Academy were implicated in a rash of incidents that began in December 2000 and grew to become the biggest drug scandal in the school's 47-year history. A 1996 case at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., included 5 midshipmen court-martialed and jailed on drug charges and the expulsion of 15 others.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002/07/03/military-drugs.htm

7
General Board / Re: "Right To Bear Arms"
« on: August 29, 2008, 08:14:50 PM »
You've got to be kidding me with this thread - an individual who has the intent to kill will do it with whatever he finds on his way - for example, cars are known to have been used extensively as weapons. Cars as weapons are less used to kill than in road accidents, but do occur from time to time. The driver may be drunk or on drugs, or just homicidal - cars can be weapons of death just as fearful as the loaded guns.

8
General Board / Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« on: August 29, 2008, 08:09:52 PM »

Camus has written another interesting piece on the subject. Meursault, in Camus's "The Stranger," appears to be the quintessential nihilist. A man mentally at odds with the entire universe, he plods through life knowing no certainties and caring for nothing. Despite certain characteristics in common with existentialism, another philosophical school sharing nihilism's rejection of established views, but placing emphasis on responsibility and participation in life, it must be said that because of Meursault's denial of objective truth, and rejection of laws and institutions, he is first and foremost a nihilist.

The first and most significant pointer to Meursault's nihilistic tendencies is his denial of any objective basis for truth. This fairly hard to ascertain, because due to the ambiguous nature of the narrative, very little is actually established as 'true'. But it is nonetheless an obvious characteristic of Meursault, as can be established through his attitude toward his own life. After all, that life itself exists, and is purposeful, is one thing that nearly everyone considers to be true. But Meursault treats seemingly important decisions with great indifference, and indeed takes little or no interest in anything. If nothing exists and it is impossible to know anything (because anything you think you know is completely subjective), why bother doing anything? Early in the book , when his mistress Marie asked him about marriage, he said he would marry her, but that he didn't love her, and more significantly, that "... it didn't make any difference to me." He had no emotional attachment to her, or any person for that matter, and he only associated with her because of his physical needs. There is no objectively provable reason to do anything, and people may or may not exist. So why should he care about anyone?

Then, after another, even more serious act, the senseless murder of a friend's enemy, when asked if he regretted the action, he said merely "I felt kind of annoyed." People don't matter, dead or alive. He could have killed someone, or he could have done nothing, or neither of them could have ever existed. There is no reason for him to take any interest in it, from his standpoint. The event was no more than an annoyance. Naturally he takes a similar attitude towards his own life when it is endangered. "Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people's deaths or a mother's love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we're all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him who also called themselves my brothers."

This is the complete acknowledgment of nihilistic ideas. He totally resigns himself to the irrelevance of his own existence. He says that nothing matters, that life, death, and love are all totally meaningless and potentially nonexistent things. However, does not this evidence also point to Meursault as an existentialist? Existentialists, at least non-religious ones, maintain that the universe is meaningless, and human existence serves no purpose. From this standpoint would not his actions and attitude towards most things have been roughly similar? He doesn't care for people because their existence is pointless. He commits murder and then shows no emotion over it, because again the life served no purpose, and furthermore, as an existentialists, he believed in his own absolute free will and rejected all morals. Additionally, in the above quote, Meursault hints about his ideas of fate, as though the universe was behaving as an uncaring, irrational entity, as existentialists believe it does. Ultimately Meursault cannot be an existentialist, however. Because while existentialists believe that life is meaningless, they also emphasize the responsibility of people for forming their nature, and they emphasize the importance of personal decisions.


Man, Meursault sounds so boring, boring, boring!

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[...] They are often convinced that the celebrity is sending them cryptic messages intended only for them to understand. Erotomanic delusions last an average of 10 years.


Does the person substitute for it with a new one? For instance, does s/he become obsessed with another celebrity?

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