Monday, September 24, 2012

How do you figure?

Considering Australia's appalling treatment of asylum-seekers, going back at least three Prime ministers, especially our treatment of the Tamil People, it is hard to imagine how Australia deserves a place on the Security Council of the UN.

Baron-Cohen on Australian radio today

I'm surprised that Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is still trying to promote his ridiculous book. I'm also surprised that he is still sharing his offensive and absurd ideas about empathy and anorexia, borderline PD, and autism.

The professor was also on Australian public radio in March, promoting his book:

Looks like we've got one too

Is the Australian psychiatrist, journalist and SBS television personality Dr Tanveer Ahmed Australia's answer to Jonah Lehrer?

I guess that's the difference between psychology and psychiatry

I seem to have the habit or the talent of spotting coincidences and patterns whenever I plunge into a bit of research. In the course of writing my newest book an odd coincidence to do with the University of California, Los Angeles, generally known as UCLA, has become apparent. In 2009 Jani Schofield was diagnosed with child-onset schizophrenia at an inpatient clinic of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UCLA. It was a different doctor from the same university, but from the Child Psychology Clinic and sixty-five years earlier, who invited the now-legendary film producer Val Lewton to discuss with students his new movie The Curse of the Cat People, which the doctor at UCLA was much impressed with, despite the movie's deplorable title which had been imposed upon Lewton from his bosses at the RKO movie studio. The central character in this classic movie is a young girl named Amy who has a father who is concerned about her. Amy spends more time in the company of imaginary friends than she spends with other children who are made of flesh and blood. Because of this Amy's father fears that his daughter is close to insane, but the good thing about this movie is that it is slanted from the point of view of the lonely and misunderstood child. I'm guessing that this is what Dr Fearing at UCLA liked about the movie. One scene reveals that Amy shares the same unusual neuropsychological trait that Jani Schofield also clearly experiences. What makes this particular scene even more interesting is the fact that this anecdote in the film narrative was based on experiences in Lewton's own life. What strange trait, which has speculatively been linked with hyper-empathizing, is a trait that is/was common to Val Lewton, the fictional child character Amy, Jani Schofield and also the enigmatic American child diarist Opal Whiteley, who was most famous in the 1920s? Buy my book and find out!

The Mysterious Mind of Opal Whiteley: Four Unique Lives Compared. 
by Lili Marlene
Publisher: Smashwords.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Daniel Tammet just doesn't look like Daniel Tammet any more

Tammet at the 2012 Edinburgh International Book Festival. YouTube. Published on Sep 1, 2012 by DanielTammet.

At the end of the day we live with our choices

Did you watch tonight's Sunday Night TV program? Australia's currently favourite cultural cliche was in full flight this evening - the spectacle of grown men who are according to the gender stereotypes supposed to be reluctant or unable to express emotion, expressing emotions. Two weeping high-profile male guests was quite an impressive hit rate for Sunday Night and I'm sure they are proud of themselves. One of the guests also owned up to being an ex-psychiatric patient, which was piling one trendy cultural cliche on top of another. Of course, these guests were both on the show to promote things; a concert and a new autobiography.

The Australian Major General John Cantwell certainly did seem to be in terrible shape, after thirty-four years of commanding the Australian army in places like Afghanistan and the Gulf War. Cantwell cited one particular horror in the Gulf War as one of the experiences that triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder. It was the use by the American forces of a specially-designed military bulldozer to bury alive and dismember Iraqi soldiers who were dug into the ground. Cantwell had the most unpleasant job of collecting the body parts that were the planned result of what he described as "industrialized killing". I wonder whether Cantwell knows the role that an Australian university played in developing these killing machines? In 2003 the much maligned Australian international whistleblower Julian Assange was a student of mathematics and physics at the now very prestigious University of Melbourne. Poor Julian could never fit in, wherever he went. Our Julian still seems to be constitutionally incapable of doing what he is told, without questions or objections. Julian didn't feel comfortable in the applied mathematics department after he discovered the nature of the project that was being developed for the US military - a bulldozer designed for operation in the desert known as the "grizzly plough". This was too much for Julian. His disillusionment with life in the academy grew. He was disgusted when he attended some academic event in Canberra and saw hundreds of Australian physicists all toting bags carrying the logo of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. Assange has described them as  snivelling conformists of inferior character. What did Julian expect to find in Canberra, I wonder?

Cantwell went on to serve Australia at the highest levels of the army, and saw soldiers lose their lives under his command, and he eventually ended up as the unhappy guest of a psychiatric unit. Cantwell now asserts that it isn't worth our while to keep our army in Afghanistan. Last time I checked Assange was still imprisoned in an embassy in London, without being charged with anything. Network Ten will be broadcasting their 90 minute telemovie about Assange's life on October 7th 2012. Julian has a heavy load of personal threats to worry about, but I'll bet his conscience isn't nearly as much of a bother to him now as it was in his university days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

I didn't notice David Letterman asking President Obama about Julian Assange or Bradley Manning or global warming or whistleblowers. Did I miss something? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

Are you a happy patron of the forest fairy postal service? Opal certainly was, but Amy and Val had some issues with it. Sometimes I wonder what all this reading is doing to my sanity.....

You've got a big mouth, Ms Deveny

This is one point of difference between the United States and Australia. The other night there was a loud-mouthed Aussie lady on Aussie TV declaring that she was intolerant of intolerance. No one pulled her up for being self-contradictory, or having things both ways. 

I'm not intolerant of people who practice intolerance inconsistently on a personal whim, as long as they are as open and honest about their hypocrisy as that lady, and don't mind when others pull their ideas to pieces.  

A candid quote from a genius of the cinema

"I was fired from each of the papers listed above and acquired a reputation  as one of the world's worst reporters. Inaccuracy seemed to be my besetting sin and impudence - which I could never understand - ran it a close second. I was fired from the World for insulting Henry Ford by asking him for a million dollars. I still think I was right."
- an annotation in a bibliography of Val Lewton's written works compiled by Val Lewton and published in the book The Reality of Terror by Joel E. Siegel

Lili's scientific thought for the day

I've just been watching a discussion about science and politics on The Drum, between Australian physicist and Nobelist Prof. Brian Schmidt and some bright and charismatic commentators. It was just one nice cliche after another - no discussion of the areas of science that are slow-motion train-smashes, such as psychiatric science under the reign of "big pharma", or the many worrying cracks in the foundations of neuroscience and science journalism which are becoming impossible to ignore in the wake of scandals surrounding Prof. Marc Hauser and Jonah Lehrer. Physics is a safe area of science to venture into if you aren't up to facing any controversy, so Prof. Schmidt was a top choice as an Australian representative of the World of Science on our always tame and neat public broadcaster, the ABC. I'm really not sure why I bother to turn the set on.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

About Val Lewton (born Vladimir Ivan Leventon)

Bansak, Edmund G. and  Wise, Robert (2003) Fearing the dark: The Val Lewton career. McFarland & Company, 2003.
[First published in 1995 by the same publisher as the 2003 reprint]

Bodeen, DeWitt (1977) More from Hollywood: The Careers of 15 Great American Stars. Gazelle Book Services Ltd, 1977.
[Has a chapter about Lewton and another chapter about his aunt “Nazimova”.]

Books about Val Lewton from The Val Lewton B-Unit Web Page

Brosnan, John (1976) The horror people. St Martin’s Press, 1976.
[Chapter 4 is about “Lewton and Company”]

Nemerov, Alexander (2005) Icons of grief : Val Lewton's home front pictures. University of California Press, 2005.

Siegel, Joel E. (1973) Val Lewton: the reality of terror. Viking Press, 1973.
[Highly recommended as a biographical source. I believe it is out of print.]

The Val Lewton B-Unit Web Page

Thesiger, Martita (1995) Book reviews: Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career. Bright Lights Film Journal. Issue 15 November 1995.
[Lewton referred to as having a “schizoid personality”]

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows. (2007) (documentary) Director: Kent Jones.

Vieira, Mark A. (2003) Darkness, Darkness: The Films of Val Lewton. Bright Lights Film Journal.

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 2010) Val Lewton. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

This list of sources of information about Val Lewton is now a part of Lili Marlene's newest ebook, which can be downloaded here from Smashwords: 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

What's on a Ham and Pineapple, mate?

That's why they call it an inner world

"Then they betrayed their peculiarities by some chance remark which called forth a stare of surprise, followed by ridicule and a sharp scolding for their silliness, so that the poor little things shrunk back into themselves, and never ventured again to allude to their inner world."

- Sir Francis Galton, writing about the experiences of number form synaesthetes in the 1800s.

Scumf*** work supervisor deliberately sets young Aussie pre-apprentice on fire, and is allowed to keep his job

Lawyers question workplace bullying protections.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 10/09/2012
Reporter: Heather Ewart

I'm guessing tomorrow might not be a big day for business at Haeusler's in Shepparton. 

This most interesting comment has been removed

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Human nature can be quite flawed

“I look forward to making new contributions to human welfare, education, and the role of scientific knowledge in understanding human nature.”

- Harvard University psychology professor Marc Hauser, who is the subject of a report just out that found that in six cases he engaged in research misconduct in work supported by the National Institutes of Health. 

Professor Marc Hauser, who is currently posted to working with "at risk" youth, is also the author of the pop psychology book Moral minds: how nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. It appears that a sense of right and wrong is not quite as universal as the professor has suggested.

Friday, September 07, 2012

A punchy quote to start an essay with

"To combine imposture with autobiography is surely to create an oxymoron."

- Susanna Egan's first line of her essay The Company She Keeps: Demidenko and the Problems of Imposture in Autobiography, published in the 2004 book Who's Who: Hoaxes, Imposture and Identity Crises in Australian Literature, edited by Maggie Nolan and Carrie Dawson. I'm a bit puzzled about why the Helen Demidenko story was examined in an essay about autobiography, because Demidenko/Darville's controversial book was not an autobiography, it was a novel, and never presented as anything but a work of fiction. One of the most interesting aspects of the Demidenko affair was the exposure of the willingness of the reader and the literary establishment to accept a novel as quasi-autobiographical, and then insist that this misinterpretation should be true, and then chuck a big sulk when this misinterpretation turned out to be not true.

Lili's thought for the day

Most race bigots are just stupid young blokes who aren't getting enough sex. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A bit pricey for Lili

Its price is $1295.00. It comes in three volumes. It was published in March of this year. V. S. Ramachandran is its editor-in-chief. And it appears that Daniel Tammet is at least mentioned in two of the chapters within it.

The truth is...

"The truth is I don't have a better memory than anybody else, I'm just an average guy who got kicked out of college. I just learned a system that most people don't know."
- US memory champion 2009 and 2010 Ron White in the documentary Test Your Brain

Lili's speculative thought for the day

I reckon that bloke who swallowed the diamond got the idea from a QOTSA song. 

Lili's thought for the day

The politicians scuttled in through the back entrance, like cockroaches in suits.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

A predictable mistake

Should you type in "Solomon Shereshevskii" as a search term into Google, you will retrieve a little biographical summary derived from Wikipedia beside the results list, with a photograph. The photo isn't Shereshevskii, it is Luria, the bloke who studied him. This kind of error is quite typical of automated systems for searching and compiling information - in the absence of genuine, reliable content being available, anything that looks like it might be the genuine article is grabbed uncritically.

I like this quote

"You're entitled to break a bad law..."
- crusading Australian broadcaster Derryn Hinch