CHRIS COOPER'S BLOG - infrequent forays into fun, freedom, fysics and filosophy...

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Blogosophical Investigations
Wednesday, July 17, 2002  

Just because you're a technophobe, it doesn't mean your computer isn't out to get you

Even by my standards it's been an excessive time since the last entry. I put myself off-line for over a week when I carried out my long-planned campaign to reinstall Windows. Reinstallation might be a simple act of digital cleansing that computing geeks do twice a week without turning a hair, but it made me tremble to think about it, and in the event I was right to be afraid.

By far the easiest part of the operation was buying a CD-writer to back up the family's data. I'd hardly put down the phone to before my new LiteOn was through the door. (Cudos to Of course, I have no connection whatever to them, blah blah ...)

Backing up data spread itself over a couple of weeks. My mountain of unread emails was the main problem. But finally it was done.

Reinstallation seemed to go well. Afterwards the machine was light and speedy, and still is, in fact. But I couldn't get the modem working. After a couple of days and then a quarter of an hour on a premium helpline, I was told that the appropriate driver wasn't to be found on the backup CD that had come with the system.

While I waited for a replacement disc, I struggled with other things that weren't right. I was saved by the power unit exploding when I plugged the PC in after the top had been off. (I wasn't the last family member to look at the brute's innards before this happened, but I haven't enough evidence to prosecute.)

Anyway, with a nice clear case of hardware malfunction, I could take it to a PC doctor with a good conscience, and let them fix the lot for the bargain price of an arm and a leg.

All this time I could have been repairing to the local library and using their Internet access to blog, free of charge (that is, at the expense of the cyber-poor of the county). But, well, when it was sunny I had washing to put out and bring in, and when it was raining, who wants to cycle to the library?

Women pride themselves on multitasking

As I come in from walking the dog, I walk past my daughter's room. A CD is playing full belt: someone called Pink, I later discover. But my daughter is in the next room. She's sitting on the piano stool watching TV while listening to the music. The TV sound is right down, but it doesn't matter because she's seen this episode of Ally McBeal before – probably three times. It doesn't matter anyway, since she's talking on her phone. After a while she decides not enough is going on, so she starts playing on the piano with her free hand.

Please put brain into gear before engaging keyboard

On the front page of The Times, one day during Wimbledon, concerning Tim Henman, who had just struggled to win a match:

... there is nothing so paralysing as opportunity.

Except, perhaps, lack of opportunity?

A new plague

This was forwarded on the Evolutionary Psychology mailing-list weeks ago:

From: "Ian Pitchford"
Subject: Money and Madness

Cover Story
Money and Madness
Posted June 3, 2002
By Kelly Patricia O'Meara

A child who doesn't like doing math homework may be diagnosed with the mental
illness developmental-arithmetic disorder (No.315.4). A child who argues with
her parents may be diagnosed as having a mental illness called
oppositional-defiant disorder (No.313.8). And people critical of the
legislation now snaking through Congress that purports to "end discrimination
against patients seeking treatment for mental illness" may find themselves
labeled as being in denial and diagnosed with the mental illness called
noncompliance-with-treatment disorder (No.15.81).

The psychiatric diagnoses suggested above are no joke. They represent a few of
the more than 350 "mental disorders" listed in the American Psychiatric
Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-IV), the billing bible for mental disorders which commingles neurological
diseases with psychiatric diagnoses. ...

Full text:

The whole article is well worth reading. A couple more quotes:

The pending proposals would expand the 1996 legislation to require that caps, or limitations on [insurance benefits] coverage, be the same for mental illnesses as those provided for medical illnesses, in the name of so-called mental-health parity. When it comes to "mental illness" and "medical illness" however, there is no scientific parity between the two schools of thought. That is, only one is based in physical science. ...

... one might even ask the surgeon general how he could make the statement that "mental disorders collectively account for more than 15 percent of the overall burden of disease" when he admits later in the report that there is no physical proof thus far of mental disease in any of the psychiatric diagnoses.

According to Wiseman, "Numerous studies show psychiatrists tend strongly to use health-insurance benefits up to the point that they are exhausted, at which point the patient is declared cured. ...In this legislation, the government is saying that if there's a million-dollar cap on treating a patient's cancer then there has to be a million-dollar cap on treating shyness when it is called social-anxiety disorder. So once the person gets 'treated,' the bill reaches the cap and they're pronounced cured. Such diagnoses will run insurance costs into the stratosphere.

10:19 PM

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