The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
February 2012

The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a division of the United States Department of Heath and Human Services, defines Alcoholism as a disease that has four symptoms: a strong craving for alcohol, a loss of control over drinking alcohol once drinking has begun, a physical dependence on alcohol that can result in physical withdrawal symptoms if drinking is stopped, and an increased tolerance of alcohol so that more and more is required to receive the same effect.

In the United States, about 1 in every 12 people abuse or are dependent on Alcohol.  On average, men more than women tend to be alcoholic and rates are highest between the ages of 18-29.

Alcoholism is considered a chronic disease in that it can’t be cured and it lasts a lifetime. Treatments programs include detoxification and counseling centers, medication, and self-help programs. There are some medications that are used to treat dependence or withdrawal symptoms.

The longer someone abstains from alcohol, the likelier the alcoholic will avoid relapse and stay sober. While some people can cut back on their drinking and drink moderately (two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women), for recovering alcoholics NIAAA recommends complete abstinence from alcohol as the safest course.

For more information, the NIAAA suggests The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service toll-free number (1-800-662-HELP) and also a link to Alcoholics Anonymous.



Lab rat

One lab rat pressed a lever 6400 times to get one dose of coke!
On the flip side, rats don't like LSD or Prozac.

Gerard Depardieu 'sorry' to have urinated on plane carpet - Telegraph

Gerard Depardieu 'sorry' to have urinated on plane carpet

Gerard Depardieu's entourage has said he tried to urinate into a bottle "as discreetly as possible" while on a flight, and said he was "sorry" to have spilt some on the plane's carpet.

Our Favorite Novels -

Well, hello again. After digesting your additions to, and critiques
of, our nonfiction list, we decided to reconvene our panel of
nonexperts (ourselves) and come right back at you with a list of the
best fiction of all time. Using our customary precise, scientific
approach, we asked each member of the staff to pick their five
favorites. The full list is after the jump.
And the winner is … "Lolita"! Before bestowing this glorious honor, we
went through an exhaustive series of bonus rounds. First, we asked
everyone to vote again, this time for one book that a colleague cited
but they had not. The second round helped "The Amazing Adventures of
Kavalier & Clay" gain ground on "Lolita," which had been an early
leader. A dark horse, "The Great Gatsby" pulled out from the pack and
gained on the front-runners. Coetzee's "Disgrace" made a late surge.
"Anna Karenina" fell back.
What to do? A bonus-bonus round, of course, pitting Vladimir Nabokov
against Michael Chabon. It was a thrilling last leg of the race. Sweat
beaded on the brows of editors as they e-mailed in their votes. Sam
Anderson declared that as the magazine's critic at large, he had the
right to break the tie all by himself. From one photo editor came this
primal howl: "L-O-L-I-T-A!!!!!!!" In the end, "Lolita" won by seven
votes. (Sam approves.)
The biggest lesson learned from this exercise are that we have some
high-falutin' readers in this office. Tenth-grade English teachers all
over the country can congratulate themselves on a job well done. I was
personally distressed that nobody saw fit to join me in endorsing "The
Godfather." Also, I'm sorry, but "White Noise" is overrated — a great
novelist cracking grad-student one-liners. I'll take "Libra" any day.
Just my opinion.
Another lesson: Having fancy literary taste does not predispose one to
abide by rules. Yes, we had a rash of folks who broke the five-book
limit, including one nonconformist who tried to pass off "all P.G.
Wodehouse" as one book (ahem, Mr. Bittman.) There was also all kinds
of complaining about the reductiveness of lists, how impossible it is
to pick favorites, etc. What is it about books that make people so
Below is the full list, with the five-book groupings of each staff
member intact. Check back in next week, when we'll write about which
books people are planning to read this summer. As always, please write
in with your own suggestions.
"The Awakening," by Kate Chopin
"The Passion," by Jeanette Winterson
"The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald
"To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee
"A Visit From the Goon Squad," by Jennifer Egan
"Crime and Punishment," by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"At Swim-Two-Birds," by Flann O'Brien
"Infinite Jest," by David Foster Wallace
"Ulysses," by James Joyce
"Molloy," by Samuel Beckett
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Rabbit, Run," or anything by John Updike
"American Pastoral," or anything by Philip Roth
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon
"Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides
"For Whom The Bell Tolls," by Ernest Hemingway
"The Mezzanine," by Nicholson Baker
"The House of Mirth," by Edith Wharton
"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The Master of Go," by Yasunari Kawabata
"The Golden Bowl," by Henry James
"In Search of Lost Time," by Marcel Proust
"The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis," by José Saramago
"The Savage Detectives," by Roberto Bolaño
"Light Years," by James Salter
"Green Wheat," by Colette
"To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee
"The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner
"Neverwhere," by Neil Gaiman
"The Turn of the Screw," by Henry James
"All the King's Men," by Robert Penn Warren
"Snow Country," by Yasunari Kawabata
"Plainsong," by Kent Haruf
"Eventide," by Kent Haruf
"The Sportswriter," by Richard Ford
"Sense and Sensibility," by Jane Austen
"The God of Small Things," by Arundhati Roy
"Cathedral," Raymond Carver
"Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen
"Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy
"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon
"Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Brontë
"The Shipping News," by Annie Proulx
"Underworld," by Don DeLillo
"The Unbearable Lightness of Being," by Milan Kundera
"White Noise," by Don DeLillo
"Mating," by Norman Rush
"Another Marvelous Thing," by Laurie Colwin
"American Pastoral," by Philip Roth
"A Sport and a Pastime," by James Salter
"V.," by Thomas Pynchon
"Cat and Mouse," by Gunter Grass
"The Floating Opera," by John Barth
"The Blood Oranges," by John Hawkes
"A Confederacy of Dunces," by John Kennedy Toole
"Passage to India," by E.M. Forster
"Wolf Hall," by Hilarty Mantel
"Atonement," by Ian McEwan
"The Tin Drum," by Gunter Grass
"White Teeth," by Zadie Smith
"The Unbearable Lightness of Being," by Milan Kundera
"Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides
"To The Lighthouse," by Virginia Woolf
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Moby-Dick," by Herman Melville
"Pale Fire," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Dead Souls," by Nikolai Gogol
"A Confederacy of Dunces," John Kennedy Toole
"The Power and the Glory," by Graham Greene
"The Age of Innocence," by Edith Wharton
"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," by Carson McCullers
"Brideshead Revisited," by Evelyn Waugh
"The Leopard," by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
"Crime and Punishment," by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon
"Leviathan," by Paul Auster
"My Name Is Asher Lev," by Chaim Potok
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," by Mark Haddon
"Cloud Atlas," by David Mitchell
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon
"The Executioner's Song," by Norman Mailer
"London Fields," by Martin Amis
"Disgrace," by J.M. Coetzee
"Invisible Man," by Ralph Ellison
"Moby-Dick," by Herman Melville
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger
"Jaws," by Peter Benchley
"1984," by George Orwell
"Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman," by Haruki Murakami
"Remains of the Day," by Kazuo Ishiguro
"Against Nature," by Joris-Karl Huysmans
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Disgrace," by J.M. Coetzee
"Birdsong," by Sebastian Faulks
"CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," by George Saunders
"Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy
"American Pastoral," by Philip Roth
Also: "James & the Giant Peach," by Roald Dahl
"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," by James Joyce
"A Personal Matter," by Kenzaburo Oe
"To the Lighthouse," by Virginia Woolf
"Invisible Man," by Ralph Ellison
"Sirens of Titan," by Kurt Vonnegut
"The Godfather," by Mario Puzo
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon
"The Thin Man," by Dashiell Hammett
"The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.," by
Robert Coover
"Bright Lights, Big City," by Jay McInerney
"A Confederacy of Dunces," by John Kennedy Toole
"Catch-22," by Joseph Heller
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain
"Infinite Jest," by David Foster Wallace
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Middlemarch," by George Eliot
"Persuasion," by Jane Austen
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"The House of Mirth," by Edith Wharton
"Franny and Zooey," by J.D. Salinger
"Cruddy," by Lynda Barry
"Chelsea Girls," by Eileen Myles
"House of Leaves," by Mark Z. Danielewski
"The Rules of Attraction," by Bret Easton Ellis
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," by Douglas Adams (God, I'm such a nerd)
"Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen
"Pere Goriot," by Honore de Balzac
"We All Love Glenda So Much and Other Tales," by Julio Cortazar
"Middlemarch," by George Eliot
"White Mule," by William Carlos Williams
Right now I am reading, in honor of the capture of Whitey Bulger, "The
Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V.Higgins, a fantastic crime novel
set in Boston, composed almost entirely in dialogue.
"Infinite Jest," by David Foster Wallace
"The Golden Notebook," by Doris Lessing
"Catch-22," by Joseph Heller
All P.G. Wodehouse
"Alexandria Quartet," by Lawrence Durrell
"Baron in the Trees," by Italo Calvino
"Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand
"Dance, Dance, Dance," by Haruki Murakami
"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," by Mark Twain
"Strange Pilgrims," by Gabriel García Márquez
This Summer: "Don Quixote" by Miguel De Cervantes
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger
"A Prayer for Owen Meany," by John Irving
"Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen
"To Kill a Mocking Bird," by Harper Lee
"My Antonia," by Willa Cather
"The Sportswriter," by Richard Ford
"Independence Day," by Richard Ford
"All the King's Men," by Robert Penn Warren
"The Moviegoer," by Walker Percy
"Slaughterhouse Five," by Kurt Vonnegut
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov
"Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy
"The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner
"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle," by Vladimir Nabokov
"The Needle's Eye," by Margaret Drabble
"The Master," by Colm Toibin
"Middlearch," by George Eliot.
"The Ambassadors," by Henry James
"The History of Love," by Nicole Krauss
"Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy

The Rite

Watching the Rite with Sir Anthony Hopkins is like eating beef Wellington at McDonald's.



People have an attentional bottle neck and limited cognitive resources. In a perfect world, we would notice every stimulus, process it, and catalog (remember) it accordingly. Unfortunately, we often just don't have the time to give things as much thought as they require. The upside is a lot of what happens in life doesn't need that much attention. We can get away with easy and rote answers and solutions to similar problems we've had numerous times before.

There are two ways of measuring memory: recall and recognition. Recognition is a two-level process.

Recognition: The first level is always quick and easy. We rely on a heuristic to decide and pass judgment on what we should proceed. This can be the availability heuristic (we sample what is recent, prototypical and emotionally charged). We look at an object and ask: Is this familiar? We can get a quick, gut reaction from it. If it's not familiar, we don't recognize it. Or, it may have a sense of "familiarity" which can lead to false recognitions. A ticket taker points to a man he thinks robbed him because the man looks familiar: turns out the man is just a soldier who has bought tickets from him in the past.

The problem with recognition system one is when nothing looks "familiar." While taking a multiple choice test, if all the multiple choice answers seem good, then one must have to go to the second level of processing. This is slow, methodical recall.

Recall is better if something is over learned and has many connections/memories attached to it. It's easier to re-learn something the second time. If the connections are there, one is not starting from scratch.

In the feature model concepts have a list of features: defining features (features an object must have to belong to the category) and characteristic features (features an object could have but are not defining). The theory is it's easier to put something in a category if it contains all the features of what we view as the defining feature of the category. For example, we compare a ROBIN that has feathers, a beak and two legs with what we know of typical BIRD which is it has feathers, a beak, and two legs. The defining, essential, characteristics are feathers and a beak. The characteristic features (non-essential) are two legs.

In order to come up with a sentence "Is a robin a bird?" we scan two sets of features and look for overlap. It's a stage 1 process that's quick and parallel. It generates a fast answer. If you're faced with an intermediate object that doesn't have defining characteristics, you have to kick into system 2: slow, serial processing. "Is a penguin a bird?" should be a slower yes. A robin has many of the defining features of what we determine a bird should have; a penguin does not.

There is a dual code theory of imagery. The theory was divined to explain the phenomenon that concrete words (eg flag) are easier learned than abstract words (eg democracy). When people imagine "democracy" they imagine a flag. Concrete words have the cognitive advantage over abstract words because
  • Concrete words are represented both in language systems and in the image system" i.e. "brick"
  • Abstract words are only represented in the language system (i.e. love/hate). They're difficult to define but they're communicable.

Abstract words are words we use because of context and not because we memorize the definition. In brain damage, we're more likely to retain concrete words than abstract words. Concrete words are learned younger at a basic level. If we pair memories with words and words with memories, this will help us with memory retrieval in the future—we have two paths to get to the same concept.

There are two subsystems of human cognitive processing that work simultaneously: one dealing with verbal objects—linguistic information--and one dealing with visual stimuli—images and pictures. Although they're processed independently, they're connected in memory. For example, when one watches a nature program on television that's narrated. we can look and process the pictures while we're hearing and processing the words. These are happening simultaneously and don't interfere with one another; in fact, they help future memory retrieval. The narration/words will trigger the pictures and the pictures will trigger the narration/words. 

In this dual code task, the better system for retrieval is the pairing of the concrete word with the word that represents it. This leads to the quickest reaction times as both input (word and image) are triggers for the other. An abstract word that is not paired with a concrete image—perhaps due to rote rehearsal—will have slower reaction times because someone has to search his/her memory for a definition of the word. There is no word that symbolizes the abstract word.

Rote rehearsal is repeating something over and over shallowly in order to keep it in short term memory. However, as soon as it's allowed to leave short-term memory, it's gone. It hasn't been processed to long term memory. This is fast and quick and easy for short-term projects—i.e. just keeping a phone number in your head in order to write it down. If one wants to remember something for the long haul, he or she needs to give the input context and connect it to meaning. This means processing it deeply and thinking about it and connecting it to earlier memories. For example, if I ever lose my phone and my keys, I have my one emergency phone number of a friend to call. Of course, I have to memorize this number because I will be without my pre-programmed phone. I went through his phone number segment by segment and gave all the numbers meanings. I can recite it now and will probably be able to recite it for the rest of my life!  Obviously, the latter of the two systems is preferred here, but it took time and energy for me to infuse his phone number with that much connecting information. I don't have the time and interest to do that with every phone number in my phone; I choose to spend my cognitive energy elsewhere.

Kahneman and Tversky came up with a two-stage process for judgment- and decision-making. The first stage is Stage 1 processing: it's quick and easy and relies on heuristics (strategies). One of the most "popular" heuristics is the availability heuristic: we judge the world on what happened to us most recently, what has affected us the most emotionally, and what we come in common with the most. Most of the time, we rely on this system because it requires few cognitive resources and it does the job just fine. Unfortunately, with the efficiency comes the loss of accuracy.  
System 2 is slow, methodical, and guaranteed to lead to the right solution if one gives it enough time. Sometimes years and decades is the right time. We can see this with problem solvers who are tackling a large, complex problem. Instead of making a snap decision, they apply an algorithmic solution—which is slow, serial, and methodical.

Grand masters do a lot of processing on system 1. They can look at a glance at patterns on a chessboard and memorize them. Most people can replicate the chess board set up—but that's it. Grand masters can do that if the pieces are in typical patterns; if the pieces are out of context or placed randomly, they can't memorize them. It depends on the context and the meaning of the placement.  Grand Masters have learned from previous games and what moves are possible. They know how games are resolved and have been resolved in the past. Grand Masters do deep processing: they try to look ahead several moves. They don't try to this more than 3-4 moves ahead—which is the amount of units or 'chunks' we can keep in our short term memory.

An algorithm may seem a good choice—always leads to the correct answer eventually—but this isn't a great strategy when one is pressed for time. For example, if you're playing chess, you wouldn't use a "brute force" approach—going though the entire game and exploring every possible solution in detail. As soon as one player moved a chess piece, the next move possibilities would almost be endless. It's in times like this, you need to seek patterns.

When people act unconsciously, they're freeing up cognitive resources to think and process other things. For example, they've done their bedtime routine so many times that they can brush their teeth and put the cat out all the while thinking about their upcoming final exam. However, these routines have to very systematic. As soon as something happens to shove one out of her routine (eg out of toothpaste), she's jarred out of it and has to rely on conscious thinking until she solves any problem and can go back to autopilot. Also, with unconscious processing, there's a problem with action slips: I'm so engaged in my thoughts I forget to take my glasses off before applying a huge handful of face cream. That set me up for a little system 2 problem solving!

Most if not all of the stage one processes tend to be quick and easy and efficient. They free up the mind to do higher calculations and planning. However, one gives up precision and exactness. Precision and exactness come at the price of time—which sometimes one doesn't have. It's a delicate balance.

According to Kahneman and Tversky, we are not utilitarians always doing what's best. We think we're rational human beings who will always do the correct thing but we're swayed by our faulty logic. We're swayed by recent events ("a woman got killed on an elevator so I'm not setting foot on one!"), the amount of emotion (the visit to the doctor has one momentary finger prick so I think it hurts to go to the doctors), and how much something resembles an ideal prototype (It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck: must be a duck!). We're affected by framing effects (how things are worded and presented) and "man-who" arguments (samples of one). All of these examples are System 1 processing. They're fast and easy and right most of the time.

One of the best ways to combat default stage 1 processing seems to be education—especially statistics. Once people have more statistical knowledge, they're more aware of probabilities versus possibilities.

At the airport. Reminds me of that morning I was at SEATAC waiting for Aunt Weslie and Uncle Gordon. I like traveling on my own. Last night I got a taste of living alone and it was awesome. Who knows what is waiting for me when I get back to the states.

At the airport. Reminds me of that morning I was at SEATAC waiting for Aunt Weslie and Uncle Gordon. I like traveling on my own. Last night I got a taste of living alone and it was awesome. Who knows what is waiting for me when I get back to the states.