Questions you want answered (P&C Edition)

nel e nel wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Wikipedia lists the desired effects as:

Wikipedia article on Methylenedioxypyrovalerone wrote:

Desired psychological effects

* euphoria
* increased alertness and awareness
* increased wakefulness and arousal
* increased energy and motivation
* mental stimulation/increased concentration
* increased sociability
* sexual stimulation/aphrodisiac effects
* mild empathogenic effects
* diminished perception of the requirement for food and sleep

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Sure, but what are the actual effects?

As with any drug, I suspect that varies according to dose and physiology of the user.

I mean, what are the actual effects of beer vs. the desired effects, right? If we concentrate on the downsides of alcohol, you could just as easily ask "why does anyone drink that crap?" It's not looking at the big picture, and it smacks of "Drugs are Bad, mmm'kay?"

Aye. I'd link up Erowid's page on it (Which is far more balanced, and covers the good _and_ bad sides of things.), but with the rapid chemical name changes and relative newness of the drug, there's not terribly much information on there now.

But to get a general overview, here's the page on Meth

It's a landing page, which has basics, effects, both desired and undesired, information on testing for it, a FAQ section, a link to a government report PDF, and, most interesting to my eyes, an Experiences section.

The experiences sections aren't filtered except to dodge spam. Top 5 experiences are, from a quick skim, a positive one, a very negative one, a neutral/weird one, and then two more negative ones.

Reading that page and all the data, generally, not only tells you why, but also tells you why it's got a negative perception, and does a lot to warn people off while being far, FAR more balanced than the DARE-type things.

For the record, for my take on it, I'm not a drugs sort of person. Hate needles, horrible asthma, and, most importantly, I want to avoid the "self-medication" trap people with bipolar (like me), tend to fall into.

I've also lived in crushing poverty for a really long time. So I've been around a lot of people who do not have my hangups. My experiences vary wildly from completely awesome people that just so happen to partake of things, to some rather stereotypical scumbag junkies and everyone in-between.

I can see the appeal of a substance that suppresses, or allows you to forget some of the massive stress and trauma that comes from a checkered past, no money, and no food.

The typical "Drugs are bad mmkay" spiel does nothing to address the actual reasons people use drugs. It does nothing to help the people who used them to get through a rough spot and got hooked. It especially doesn't help the at-risk kids who think "Well of course it's all going to be negative from the government.".

So asking why people take drugs, is a critically important question, and one not asked enough. The out-of hand dismissal of any possible positive effect is actively harmful.

Kannon wrote:

< snip >

So asking why people take drugs, is a critically important question, and one not asked enough. The out-of hand dismissal of any possible positive effect is actively harmful.

*applause*

Sounds mostly like cocaine with some ecstasy effects mixed in. I'm not surprised people are going nuts for it.

Means little without an examination of the side effects, and supervision from a professional. When I had severe tendonitis, my doctor suggested I try a strong NSAID, as opposed to just Ibuprofen. It worked a charm, for the first six hours or so. After that, in the space of several minutes, I went from having a normal day to deciding to drive my car into a bridge abutment at high speed.

I was able to recognize the mood swing as abnormal and kept a grip until I got home. I checked the side effects; at around the 1% level, "suicidal ideation" was listed. My doctor was amazed, but there it was.

I find it hard to believe that these law-skirting drugs are as fully tested for side effects and interactions as something like an NSAID. And even those turned out to have heart implications that have severely limited their use.

I'd like to add that I wasn't trying to be dismissive. The beer question is interesting, because I honestly have the same attitude towards alcohol that I do towards drug use, I'm not really sure why people bother.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not being snobby or dismissive, because goodness knows I have my own vices (such as repeatedly staying up 'til 2am playing games despite knowing it's stupid stupid stupid when I need to work the next day). I guess I'm just confused as to what sort of mindset makes a person take a drug that could severely ruin their day for a few hours of buzz.

It's a genuine question stemming from genuine confusion, it's pretty clear that there's some aspect there I just don't get.

Redwing wrote:

I guess I'm just confused as to what sort of mindset makes a person take a drug that could severely ruin their day for a few hours of buzz.

It's a genuine question stemming from genuine confusion, it's pretty clear that there's some aspect there I just don't get.

I can only speak to alcohol, so this answer may have no bearing, but my response is that the risk can be managed, and it's worth it.

As a regular imbiber of quality beer, wine, and spirits, there are few activities not directly enhanced by alcohol. In the right amounts, alcohol makes food taste better. It makes boring situations more entertaining. it makes tense situations more easily navigable. It encourages teamwork and community. It unlocks artistic talent. It makes unbearable people tolerable. It makes music sound better. It makes camping not stupid, and fishing not awful.

All within limits, of course. we all know the risks of alcohol, but the benefits - paired with the ability to mitigate risk through experience - make it worth it.

That's all fair enough, and honestly the last time I got vaguely tipsy (probably the drunkest I've ever been), I ended up with a girlfriend, so I shouldn't knock it too much... alcohol 1, inhibitions 0.

But I do wonder at the people who get constantly sh*t faced at every possibly opportunity, the sort of people who like cheap, strong drinks to "Get drunk faster". My brother is a bit like this on occasion, and I can't for the life of me work out what he gets out of it, besides a hangover the next morning and no recollection of the supposedly good night beforehand.

But I guess this train of thought has probably gone on long enough, apologies for the derail!

Redwing wrote:

It's a genuine question stemming from genuine confusion, it's pretty clear that there's some aspect there I just don't get.

Trust me. It's to shut the pain out. If getting off my tits wasn't such a strong panic attack trigger for me I'd probably be a junkie by now. That being said, some people just like the sensation of certain drugs. In the words of Aaron Sorkin - the problem with drugs is they work.

Redwing wrote:

But I guess this train of thought has probably gone on long enough, apologies for the derail!

I don't think this thread can be derailed since it doesn't have any tracks. That being said, my wife and I differ on the above question quite a bit. She's all for altering the chemistry in the brain to relax whereas I detest it. Her explanation is that depending on the subtance she can be less anxious, have less stress, feel more relaxed, lessen physical pain, have a greater appreciation of music or art, feel less angry... etc. For her it really is all about just feeling better. Yes, she's taken it too far before but she generally writes that up to having been too inebriated to realize she was drinking too much. Now that she has people around her making sure that doesn't happen it hasn't been an issue.

For me, I just can't stand having my own mind even slightly out of my control. I'll take pain killers after a surgery and all that jazz but I can't bring myself to take anything for recreation. I drank a bit in college but never got drunk (apparently my liver's half the size of my body because I really tried, quite often) but since then I've personally decided it's just not for me.

Redwing wrote:

I'd like to add that I wasn't trying to be dismissive. The beer question is interesting, because I honestly have the same attitude towards alcohol that I do towards drug use, I'm not really sure why people bother.

The short answer is "because it's fun".

It's really that simple. Like all forms of fun, what's fun for some folk seems dull, boring or stupid to others.

Redwing wrote:

I guess I'm just confused as to what sort of mindset makes a person take a drug that could severely ruin their day for a few hours of buzz.

I mean, we could talk about risk vs reward, but let's not kid ourselves that we're all that rational. Oftentimes, a person is thinking "what is good for me NOW", not "what is going to be good for me tomorrow".

Or they're thinking, "you know what, tomorrow's sunday, I've got nothing I need to get done, so now I'm going to get so high I'm going to talk to the furniture for the rest of the evening." I mean, it's the same exact mental math that you employ when you're deciding to stay up half the night playing games, right?

I think beer's a poor example because alcohol isn't nearly as entertaining a drug as some out there.

Maq wrote:

I think beer's a poor example because alcohol isn't nearly as entertaining a drug as some out there.

Hey, speak for yourself! Many people suffer bouts of paranoia or lethargy with other substances, so I do think Jonman has the right of it.

I'm so horribly confused by the Catholic protests over healthcare reform. I've been inundated with links from Facebook friends about this and I heard a fairly lengthy segment on NPR the other day. Apparently a big chunk of American Catholics have been holding rallies and conferences to protest the new requirement that any Catholic institution which employs non-Catholics or provides treatment to non-Catholics must provide their employees with healthcare that covers birth control.

The bishops they interviewed went so far as to compare Obama to Hitler and Stalin in regard to religious opression. To be fair, they had another Catholic leader on who said if these guys wanted to talk about religious opression then he could show them what religious opression really looked like and he went on to list several countries he'd visited lately and the particular sects who were being targetted.

Mind you, I get what they're thinking but it seems so twisted to me. All this requires is that they provide non-Catholics with the same benefits and options that they would have anywhere else. If the Catholic institution does not deal with non-Catholics then they don't have to meet this requirement and it's certainly not requiring that their Catholic employees have and partake of birth control. I know they're saying just by paying for some of their employees to have coverage of birth control that they feel they're supporting something they are morally opposed to but by denying this option to non-Catholics they are in effect imposing their views on those who do not share their beliefs.

Kehama wrote:

Mind you, I get what they're thinking

Honestly, I don't get it. The "official" Catholic position here seems horrifingly opposite what it should be; almost as bad as their stance on protecting pedofiles. They have chosen the wrong dog in this race and I hope their punishment is empty coffers.

The conservatives are finally succeeding at redefining "freedom" as "the freedom to inflict my world-view on others." It's biggest here, where an employer demands the freedom to demand their employees use their compensation in a certain way.

And I've never gotten an answer to this fundamental question: "If you are paying for my health insurance why the f*ck do you take money out of all my paychecks for it?!"

Mind you, I get what they're thinking but it seems so twisted to me. All this requires is that they provide non-Catholics with the same benefits and options that they would have anywhere else. If the Catholic institution does not deal with non-Catholics then they don't have to meet this requirement and it's certainly not requiring that their Catholic employees have and partake of birth control. I know they're saying just by paying for some of their employees to have coverage of birth control that they feel they're supporting something they are morally opposed to but by denying this option to non-Catholics they are in effect imposing their views on those who do not share their beliefs.

What's happened is that they have had to live with this law requiring that they offer services to their employees that the Church may not approve of, and as long as they could do that via a non-Catholic provider, they were fine. This rule has been around for a long time. But what they see now is an opportunity to roll back the whole thing, and get *any* requirement to provide birth control and abortion services to their employees taken away, because they believe there is a groundswell in support of it. So they are using the radical right to reach for more than they thought was possible a few years ago.

Yes, because Christ didn't much care about healing the sick and infirm. He was mostly about making sure people didn't have the wrong kind of sex.

I still remember the Parable of the Upbraided Slut. Heartwarming stuff.

In Israel when someone assaults a doctor/paramedic/nurse the union retaliates with a strike of some kind. If the assault happens in hospitals they usually turn the next day into a "weekend scheduled" which generally means all non-life saving procedures are postponed and they usually close the emergency room . If the assault happens a local clinic they close it for one day.

If there are more cases of violence during the week/month, the unions just have a more severe strike (regional or country wide) but they are usually short. The results of these strikes are nasty for the patients so this kind of collective punishments seems fairly effective in reducing violence .

We had a long doctor strike this year due to working conditions . The nurses also "strike" from time to time when hospital capacity goes over 120%~ .

The best plan in Israel is to be nice and not get seriously ill . Still when there is no strike the treatment is pretty good and cheap. I once got hospitalized with a mild case of GBS. I think I payed about 20$ for 7 days + 15000$~ in treatments.

Regarding the US GI Bill: Do people generally consider it an entitlement benefit, an employment benefit, or something else?

It can't really be called an entitlement if you earn it by serving right?

Edwin wrote:

It can't really be called an entitlement if you earn it by serving right?

It can--because your service 'entitles' you to benefits. Just like paying into Medicare and OASDI Social Security entitles you to those benefits.

The distinction is between those programs and things like SSI or Food Stamps or TANF: I guess you could call those welfare as opposed to entitlements.

Makes sense.

Poking around the internets, it looks like generally any spending program you qualify for if you meet certain requirements is called an entitlement program. I guess to distinguish it from a contractual right--if you sign up for the military, you have the contractual right to get paid for any work you do, and that basically can't be taken away from you. On the other hand, the government can usually end an entitlement program or change the eligibility even if you've already started paying in either with money or service.

I think. Or rather, that would be my semi-informed guess.

The original thinking of the term is that you are 'entitled' to some things just for breathing. It's not the same as fulfilling an explicit obligation we took on in exchange for a service.

Breathing? I thought entitlements were based on citizenship; foreign citizens can't get food stamps on their vacation, for example.

I think it's one of those terms that was perfectly fine until the language changed around it, so that now it looks pejorative. Just looking at the word, it means you have 'title' to something--not a bad thing. My guess is that it was only later on that the phrase "sense of entitlement" became something negative, and that became "entitlement issues" and now a word that started off neutral without the current connotations is attached to these programs, leading to retconning.

I just saw a quick blurb the other day on the History channel about the cost of the Eisenhower Interstate project ($425 bllion in 2006 dollars) and how it was the single largest public works project in history on par with the pyramids of Egypt. Naturally I immediately became depressed that a project like this could never take place in the current political environment.

Was it just the national mentality during WWII that allowed this kind of project to take place or did the politicians just say "screw it, we're doing it whether the public likes it or not because it's good"? Now a project like this wouldn't even make it off the drawing board before people started screaming communist, socialist, deficit spending, big brother... yada, yada, yada.

Well, the fundamental goal of the project was to allow us to move our military around at high speed, anywhere in the country, to respond to invasions. Eisenhower put his entire (considerable) military prestige into selling the project to the country. He'd been involved in an early attempt (in the 1920s) to move a military convoy from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. It took over two months to get there, and lost a bunch of vehicles enroute to damage and such. And then, in WW2, he faced the endless logistical nightmares in North Africa, where the infrastructure was even worse.

So he made the Interstate system the cornerstone of his Presidency; he spent almost all the brownie points he'd earned from a lifetime of military service to sell it.

These days, politicians don't seem to have brownie points anymore.... Colin Powell had some, but lost them all when he stood in front of the UN and lied on Bush's behalf. So getting something like the Interstates through today would be very difficult.

Source.