Monday, December 31, 2007

Greetings from Sunny Vernon, BC

If you wondered why my blogging has sucked as of late, the reason is (partially) that I'm in BC visiting my family in the Okanagan.

We are staying here:


In Vernon, BC. Elevation, 350m. I wonder if that's why my migraines have been killing me. Also ears popping. Fun fun fun.

My grandparents live nearby in Armstrong, BC. It looks like this:

But not right now because hello, it's December.

At any rate, I'm glad to be back in the Okanagan, because even if I didn't grow up here, it's between Vancouver and 100 Mile House/the Cariboo where I spent a lot of time growing up, so it feels homey. It helps I'm sure that its breathtakingly gorgeous.

By the by, this is where my fascination with Canadian dialects and Chinook Jargon comes from. We all speak West/Central Canadian, but out here it's also Pacific Northwest English, with the unquestionably awesome addition of Chinook Jargon. My aunt said skookum yesterday and I nearly squealed in delight.

Anyhoo, I have better pictures from my brand new digital camera, but I've yet to load the software onto my laptop, so I'll post those later. Now I'm going to go study. Oh, me on vacation...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Liveblogging the ICCTC...Okay, maybe not

Hallo from Den Haag.

I arrived in the city at around noon on Sunday. Cabbed it to my hotel, the Parkhotel. Wobbled over to the front desk, only to be told there was no reservation under my name. Or either of the other delegates' names. Or any of the three professors' names.

So we got ridiculously lush exec suites. Me-OW.

More later.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Liveblogging the ICCTC...This time, I mean it.

I'm drafting this in the last 45 minutes of KLM flight 692 to Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. For some reason my mother insisted it was an 8 hour flight (maybe the last time she came here?) but it was only 6. I was hoping to get some work done on my arguments, but of course, that was not to be. You'd think I'd figure out that air travel is a sucking black hole of productivity and just take enough sleeping pills to ensure I sleep through, but that never happens. I got maybe an hour at the very beginning, but that's it, and I won't get another chance until tonight unless I can check into my hotel room early-ish.

SIDENOTE: there's a kid across the aisles from me who's been crying on and off since the departures lounge. Yo, kid, we're not descending yet. Save the waterworks till your ears are depressurizing.

So let's see: agonizing headache? Check. Gross coffee? Check. Grimy airplane feel? Check.

On the upside, KLM appears to be a relatively kickass airline. The meals were small but good, and they have been relentless with the free non-alcoholic drinks. Another plus, I'm on a real airplane, i.e. one with two aisles in the cabin and a 3-4-3 seating arrangement and a mid-cabin lav. Possibly because I'd flown cross-Canada a dozen-plus times by the time I was five, I got used to the real planes, like this one, a Boeing 747. It has an upper deck, people. Now all I ever travel on are airbuses, which drive me crazy for some reason. Like, they're too big to be fun, like a Dash, but too small to feel like you're anything but commuting. GO trains irk me in the same way.

What can I say; I'm a bundle of quirks.

Anyhoo, I've decided I sincerely need to fly first class or business class at some point, just to see what it's like. Soon.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Everything You Know About Drugs Is Wrong


Read an interesting article in the Walrus yesterday....

So, okay, every article I read in the Walrus is interesting. I devour it cover to cover. ANYWAY...

There was an article which I'm going to have to carry around with me and thrust upon unsuspecting friends and relatives. It seems to be online for free at the moment, and you can find it here.

The article is about a SFU psych prof named Bruce Alexander who debunked the Skinner Box theory in the 1970s--only to be promptly ignored.

Skinner Box Theory: Put a rat in a box. Give the rat drugs every time it pushes a lever. The rat will push the lever constantly, so as to be constantly high. Conclusion: access to drugs equals drug addiction.

Alexander had a suspicion that this was not the whole story, based on his work with Downtown Eastside opiate addicts. (Sidenote: I always refer to this as the "Lower East Side", because I watch too much Law & Order.) His observations suggested that addicts could kick the habit, but in the context of their lives, there was no point. He conjectured that the fact that a rat stuck alone in a box (rats are pack animals) with no recreation, company, etc. etc., would of course become a junkie, but that a happy rat with other options might not. So he built a happy rat palace for a whole rat colony, and then gave them the option of drinking regular water to morphine-laced water.

Results: rats prefer drinking regular water and doing happy rat activities to being stoned. This was true even when the water was sweetened to make it more attractive. In fact, even when Alexander forced the rats to become addicted (chemically) by restricting them to the morphine-water, and then gave them the option, they would put themselves through withdrawal in order to go back to their clean, happy-rat lives.

This article is fascinating stuff people. Read it, read it now!

Law, Schmaw, says US on extradition

Via BoingBoing: US gov't to British court: We can kidnap Brits, it's legal

My exact reaction was "Ha ha ha ha wait wtf?"

The Brit representing the US at a meeting with UK jurists stated:

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.”

I don't think it's a "no jurisdiction" issue so much as a "won't bother as he'll be over-ruled" issue. (On the other hand, Canada has gotten at least one guy back, and had the bounty hunters extradited back north to face criminal charges, so go us!)

This, however, is the undeniably hilarious money quote:

“The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared.”