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February 19, 2015 | by Justine Alford
It’s probably the last thing you’d consider administering to children, but a new study has found that a psychedelic drug, called (R)-DOI, potently prevents the development of allergic asthma in mouse models of the disease, suggesting that the chemical could represent a novel treatment avenue for asthma in humans. But don’t worry, we won’t have asthmatics tripping left, right and center every time they puff their inhalers because even if this does eventually lead to an approved therapy, it’s effective at doses up to 100 times less than those that would influence behavior.
While people may raise one eyebrow at the idea, there is a lot of interesting research into the use of psychedelic drugs like LSD in the treatment of various medical conditions, mainly those related to the brain such as depression, anxiety and addiction. That’s primarily because these drugs increase the levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain, our body’s natural mood balancer that is also implicated in the development of these disorders.
But serotonin isn’t just found in the brain; it also acts on other neurons throughout the body, such as those in the gastrointestinal tract to regulate appetite and digestion. Furthermore, it’s also been known for some time that it is involved in inflammation. Although asthma is an inflammatory disease, no one knew whether serotonin played a precise role in the disease.
‘I’m sure the Oxbridge admissions tutors who are giving white students the benefit of the doubt don’t think of themselves as racist’ by Sophie Heawood 14 Feb
You know what it’s like, you’re driving to meet someone and you send them a message saying you’re 10 minutes away. And then you arrive a full hour later, because you’ve been pulled over by the police, who suspect you of dealing drugs, although they don’t actually tell you that in so many words as they go rifling through your things.
Actually, I have no idea what that feels like, never having been stopped by the police for anything, even though I’ve walked around with drugs on me several times in my life. (I was younger, foolisher, things change.) But this week, when I was waiting to interview George the Poet, a musician recently nominated for a Brit award, this is what happened to him. He’s black, he drives a decent car, he wears Nike, and says it happens all the time. Every day he leaves his London home aware that random and unwarranted police attention might divert him from his path, and that he has to remain diplomatic rather than make it worse for himself by revealing how upsetting he finds it. Me, I just leave the house, idly wondering if I’ve remembered to put my phone charger in my bag.
The report just published by race equality charity the Runnymede Trust, proving that it is harder for black and Asian students to get into the country’s most selective universities (even armed with the same A-level grades as white applicants), comes as a further kick in the teeth to optimists who want to believe that institutional racism is in decline. George the Poet, real name George Mpanga, is a Cambridge graduate: even if you make it through the university selection process, the assumptions about how you paid for that car are still waiting for you on the other side.
I’m sure the police who stopped Mpanga’s car don’t think they’re racist. I’m sure the Oxbridge admissions tutors who are giving white students the benefit of the doubt, while extending less confidence to other applicants, don’t think of themselves as racist, either. Many of them would probably say, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body”, always the first sentence uttered by someone who hasn’t had to address their assumptions. A racist bone – as if racism was an alien substance that God used to build the bad people, rather than something that any one of us is capable of at any time. Casually, quickly; a glance, a hunch.
Once your eyes are opened to the patriarchy – the idea that much of society is about men controlling women’s lives, their sexuality and their fertility for their own ends – then you begin to see it everywhere. If a woman’s role is to bear a mans children for him and bring them up and keep his house then it makes sense to bring women up to see their future role as being to look for a good provider. For some women helping to ‘heal’ a damaged man to make him whole so that they can function as a partnership may seem like a good option – the issue is that it is an unequal relationship which often ends in abuse.
S&M is a private thing in which individuals ‘play’ or experiment with the proprieties and power balances of their relationship – it doesn’t seem to me that this is what Fifty Shades is about. I worry that it is telling women that having a romantic relationship with a damaged, controlling man is a good thing when in fact it is often a gateway to an unequal relationship which has a high probability of ending in abuse…
Why You Should Talk To Your Kids About ’50 Shades Of Grey’ – The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy By Soraya Chemaly February 11, 2015
One of the great virtues of insomnia, otherwise a deplorable problem, is the found time to do silly things for no good reason. During two sleepless weeks in 2013, I stayed up every night and read the Twilight books and then, for good measure, their fan fiction follow up, the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I read, I vacillated between giggling at some execrable, entertaining writing and amazement that anyone could think these books were transgressive.
It was like eating too much sweet, pink, and airy cotton candy. Then eating some more. Then feeling kind of sick and wishing you hadn’t because of the empty calories. Then being glad you did, because you probably wouldn’t touch the stuff again.
The disturbing thing about these stories, however, was that young teenagers voraciously consumed Twilight and many of them will see Fifty Shades of Grey. A few years ago, many people thought the Twilight books and movies were just fine for early teens because Twilight had “no sex.” Those children, only a few years older, are a prime target market for the film Fifty Shades of Grey and millions have, no doubt, also read the books. Both franchises normalize coercive sexuality and abuse.
If you put them on a spectrum, however, you’d have to start with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Consider the immediate narrative similarities:
Innocent, younger, virginal girl/woman
Damaged, older, more experienced boy/man
Female characters are relatively poor
Male characters are relatively wealthy and their lives filled with luxury
Male characters engage in controlling access to food, clothes
Male characters practice controlling/stalking behaviors such as following, eavesdropping, spying and this is considered a sign of love
Female characters are systematically isolated from their friends and family
Male characters are violent and physically overwhelming
Female character’s love, or the quest for that love, “change” the male character and make him less “monstrous”
Female characters learn to anticipate and “manage” male anger to reduce stress, risk.
There are many ways to interpret all three as portraying strong women, in control of their destinies. Regardless, however, these similarities remain valid, and both subtle and not-so-subtle abuse fills these stories. (Practitioners of BDSM disavow the books’ portrayals, arguing that the depictions do not reflect safe/consensual practices, but are about indefensible sexual and emotional violence.)
In the case of Fifty Shades, a recent analysis of the books revealed that “Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction.” Researchers make a compelling case, and provide backup for it, that stalking, intimidation, and sexual violence (including using alcohol to compromise consent) are pervasive. Anastasia, the protagonist, is described many times as feeling constant threat and described experiencing physical symptoms associated with it (“my stomach churns from his threats”); her identity changes and she becomes quick to “manage” Christian’s anger so that there is no violence.
FRANCE FACT: The town next to Bayonne is called ‘Getonne-free’.
I wonder how many Grandmas are misdiagnosed with hyperthyroid problems, when they’re actually wolves.
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single person falling asleep on the last train.
IDEA: Speed Dating, but with ‘winner stays on’ rule.
Marvin Gaye taught me to combine wine making and cattle farming. I herd it through the grapevine.
Supermarkets asked to move daffodils away from fruit & veg to avoid confusion. Shoppers asked to keep arses away from elbows at all times.
Well, if you’re not supposed to lick them, then I’m not sure that they should really be called ‘Lollipop Ladies’. Your honour.
RUGBY FACT: Wales’ last 5 results have been LLWLW. Which is also the Welsh word for ‘disappointing’.
Spent this morning catching some rays. And now I have a lifetime ban from the National Aquarium.
99p Stores bought by Poundland. All change for them
I’ve just spilled quinoa on my laptop keyboard. Assume I need to wipe it clean with a hemp cloth, or a copy of the Guardian?
My date last night ticked a lot of boxes. Including the one that said “Tick if you find it creepy that he’s making you fill in a survey”.