Dodgy Dopamine

Dopamine is thought of as the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter. New research is revealing that it is not quite a simple as pleasure drug: 

In the emerging view, discussed in part at the Society for Neuroscience meeting last week in Chicago, dopamine is less about pleasure and reward than about drive and motivation, about figuring out what you have to do to survive and then doing it. “When you can’t breathe, and you’re gasping for air, would you call that pleasurable?” said Nora D. Volkow, a dopamine researcher and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Or when you’re so hungry that you eat something disgusting, is that pleasurable?”

In both responses, Dr. Volkow said, the gasping for oxygen and the wolfing down of something you would ordinarily spurn, the dopamine pathways of the brain are at full throttle. “The whole brain is of one mindset,” she said. “The intense drive to get you out of a state of deprivation and keep you alive.”

Dopamine is also part of the brain’s salience filter, its get-a-load-of-this device. “You can’t pay attention to everything, but you want to be adept as an organism at recognizing things that are novel,” Dr. Volkow said. “You might not notice a fly in the room, but if that fly was fluorescent, your dopamine cells would fire.”

In addition, our dopamine-driven salience detector will focus on familiar objects that we have imbued with high value, both positive and negative: objects we want and objects we fear. If we love chocolate, our dopamine neurons will most likely start to fire at the sight of a pert little chocolate bean lying on the counter. But if we fear cockroaches, those same neurons may fire even harder when we notice that the “bean” has six legs. The pleasurable taste of chocolate per se, however, or the anxiety of cockroach phobia, may well be the handiwork of other signaling molecules, like opiates or stress hormones. Dopamine simply makes a relevant object almost impossible to ignore.

Should the brain want to ignore what it might otherwise notice, dopamine must be muzzled.

From: A Molecule of Motivation, Dopamine Excels at Its Task –

Chronicles vs annals vs logs vs records

many similar words. Subtly different meanings. All definitions via

noun:  a written record of events on a voyage (of a ship or plane)
noun:  a written record of messages sent or received
verb:  enter into a log, as on ships and planes

noun:  a record or narrative description of past events
verb:  record in chronological order; make a historical record

noun:  a chronological account of events in successive years
noun:  reports of the work of a society or learned body etc

noun: a compilation of the known facts regarding something or someone
noun:  anything (such as a document or a phonograph record or a photograph) providing permanent evidence of or information about past events

noun:  a personal journal (as a physical object)
noun:  a daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations

noun:  a daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations
noun:  a ledger in which transactions have been recorded as they occurred

Noun: a list or register of events (appointments or social events or court cases etc

noun:  a schedule of times of arrivals and departures
noun:  a schedule listing events and the times at which they will take place

noun:  a record or narrative description of past events


“Featherbedding is a pejorative term for the practice of hiring more workers than are needed to perform a given job, or to adopt work procedures which appear pointless, complex and time-consuming merely to employ additional workers. The term “make-work” is sometimes used as a synonym for featherbedding.

The term “featherbedding” is usually used by management to describe behaviors and rules sought by workers. But featherbedding has also been occasionally used to describe rent-seeking behavior by corporations in response to economic regulation. The term may equally apply to mid- and upper-level management, particularly in regard to top-heavy and “bloated” levels of middle- and upper-level management.”

Featherbedding – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Rough Guide to Serbia’s Law on Foreigners

I have finally uploaded the “Rough Guide to Serbia’s Law on Foreigners”.

It can be downloaded from here:

The document is should be called the”Very Rough Draft Guide to the Law on Foreigners”, but its a start.

The intention is to refine it into the authoritative guide to the legal requirements that foreigners and their hosts/employers must obey in Serbia.

I would very much appreciate any comments and feedback. Please bear in mind it is a first draft, but to make it into something useful and excellent, we will need harsh criticism and frank appraisals.

Email addresses for feedback are in the document, or feel free to comment here.

The best summary of the BBNP affair


I have ready hundreds of columns inches of bunk about the British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin’s appearance of BBC Question Time last night.

The best summary, however, comes from US weblog BoingBoing:

By subjecting nationalist toad Nick Griffin to the Two-Minute Hate, the U.K.’s media establishment turns a fool into a victim. His dismal performance on the BBC’s Question Time would have been satisfying were it not for the hand-wringing hostility that turned it into a circus. Coming next to Britain’s inane tabloids: Nazis portraying themselves as victims of oppression.

It’s no wonder he smirks so much, when his presence induces demands that his political party be banned, his speech suppressed and his opinions abolished. These instincts represent everything his followers want Britain to become: perhaps the irony is not lost on him.

To paraphrase one noted humanitarian, a civilized society would either kill him or give him his bookings.

The BBC disclaims the appearance as part of its duty to impartiality, then spins around to congratulate itself for orchestrating Griffin’s public “humiliation.” Paradoxically British! But the whole mess only goes to prove a simple fact: no-one has ever been so inadvertantly adept as the well-breakfasted BNP leader at poking holes in our pretentions to democratic toleration.

Public convulsions over the BNP’s inconsequential electoral successes make the country appear more divided and insecure than it is. But the BNP’s advances are trivial: proportional representation, a changing media landscape and voter disgust merely reveal the exact form of a longstanding political presence on the fringe.

Freaking out over it just creates a narrative that can be exploited and expanded into yet another bestselling British moral panic. The BNP is like salmonella, satanic abuse and paedogeddon all in one: yummy! And Griffin is thimerosal in your vaccination against media bullshit.

The repsonse to these far-right nutjobs reveals not a principled objection to racism and fascism, but rather the weakness of a political culture built on tradition and the expectaton of common sense. Shouldn’t a democractic society accept a plurality of idiots?