Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Bunch of Random Stuff

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that each aren’t long enough to make a blog posting on their own, but collectively make up a bunch of random stuff.

  • Some very cool people are getting honourary doctorates at UBC1 this year, including satirist Rick Mercer, author Douglas Coupland, and astronaut Julie Payette. Also getting a UBC HonDoc is the person with the worst French language skills on the planet, John Furlong2.  One name on the list that really caught my eye was Dr. Nora Volkow – she’s the Director of the US National Institute of Drug Addiction3. You can see her in this HBO documentary on addiction, where she does an amazing job explaining the science of addiction. Her work as a neuroscientist has gone a long way to show that addiction involves a pathophysiology of the brain – so addiction isn’t about strength of will or moral character, it’s a disease.
  • Here’s some interesting information about how larger plates are making us fatter.  I’ve read quite a few studies recently on how portion sizes have increased over the years – both at restaurants and at homes.  Further, studies show that bigger portion size actually results in people taking bigger bites of food.
  • I have a date for the Polar Bear Swim on January 1, 2011.  My friend Krista has agreed to join me!  And, as she says, we’ve said it on the intertubes, so now we *have* to do it!
  • For some unknown reason, WordPress has stopped emailing me comments that are made on my blog. I have it set up to do so, as seen here, but I don’t get emails.  So if I’m slower at replying to comments than I used to be, blame WordPress.  I’m innocent.
  • Today, my friend Dr. Jen officially became Dr. Jen.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use the PhD behind your name, or call yourself “Dr.,” until after your convocation4. Even though once you’ve handed the final copy of your thesis into the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you’ve done all you need to do. But until the degree is actually granted on convocation day, you technically don’t have it.  Not like that stops anyone from calling themselves “Dr.” right from the moment the committee at the defence says “I’m pleased to inform you…” though. Congratulations, Dr. Jen!!
  1. I hope to get an HonDoc some day. Because I have a fascination with collecting letters to put behind my name. []
  2. seriously, I have better French than that guys AND I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH []
  3. an aside: I was just perusing Dr. Volkow’s Wikipedia page and apparently she’s the great granddaughter of Trotsky! []
  4. same is technically true of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but since you don’t change your honorific with those degrees, it’s not such a big deal []

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Event: The Neuroethics of Addiction

A free public event being held April 14 (9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) at the Wosk Centre, The Neuroethics of Addiction promises to be an engaging morning of discussions on, well, the neuroethics of addiction.  This session will include topics such as:

  • Addiction is a Brain Disease
  • Treatment of Addiction and concurrent disorders between prohibition and stigma
  • Reaping Benefits & Avoiding Misuse of Addiction NeurobiologynNeuroethics of Addiction: From the Laboratory to the Street

For more info, check out the National Core for Neuroethics.

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Addiction is a Chronic Disease

… just like cancer or heart disease and it should be treated as such. So says the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), who are calling on the provincial government to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and that it should be funded as such, as reported in a Vancouver Sun cover story today. After all, you wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to pay a per diem for their treatment, but that’s what we see with addiction treatment.

A few interesting (and staggering) facts about addiction (from the Sun article):

  • “In 2002, the estimated cost of treating substance abuse in B.C. was more than $6 billion, or $1,500 per person per year”
  • “one in 10 visits to Vancouver General Hospital’s emergency room is for substance abuse”
  • “B.C. uses enough hospital beds for substance abuse care to fill Kelowna General Hospital every day for a year.”

The story goes on to say that:

“Health Minister George Abbott said he agrees with the recommendations in the report, noting that the ministry is already looking at formally recognizing addictions as chronic diseases.”

and that the province is working on a 10-year mental health and substance abuse plan.  It is encouraging to see both the medical establishment and the provincial government recognizing the horrible toll that addiction takes, as well as the need to treat addiction as the chronic disease that it is.  I am eager to see what the 10 year plan will include and whether the government will put its money where its mouth is.

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Café Scientifique: "Understanding Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture"

So, as a general rule I don’t blog about work, but rules were made to be broken, right?  I’m running an event through work for the general public and I’m thinking that some of my readers might be interested in attending, so I’m blogging it.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3403/3210248895_280306e133_o.gif

Café Scientifique is a public science initiative that gets scientists together with the general public to talk, in layperson’s terms, about science.   I think the Wikipedia entry on Café Scientifique puts it nicely when they say that Café Scientifique:

“aims to demystify scientific research for the general public and empower non-scientists to more comfortably and accurately assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact on social policy making”

There are a number of different groups running Café Scientifique events in a number of cities. Our particular series of Café Sci events is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and my particular event in that series is called “Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture.”  We have a panel of four researchers who study different aspects of addictions and each of them will present a brief (like, four minute long) introduction to their area of addictions research – and the rest of the event will involve questions, answers, comments and discussion among the audience and the panel members.  It is meant to be an informal event and one that will generate a lot of discussion about this complex topic.


Event Details:

Understanding Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture

February 4, 2009
7 – 9 p.m.
Café Du Soleil
1393 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC (close to Grandview Park)

Note: the event is at Café Du Soleil, not Café Deux Soleils (which is also on Commercial Drive).  Here’s a map.

Addiction is a complex problem that cannot fully be understood from any single perspective. Join us as we try to find common ground to deepen our understanding of the problems of addiction and strategies to address them .

Food and beverages will be provided.

Panelists:

Erin Gibson
Masters student
Interdisciplinary Studies, UVic
Hajera Rostam
Ph.D. student
Counselling Psychology, UBC
Iris Torchalla
Postdoctoral Fellow
BC Centre of Excellence for  Women’s Health
Kristina Uban
Ph.D. student
Behavioural Neuroscience, UBC

Moderator:

Dr. Lorraine Greaves
Executive Director
BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH)

This Café Scientifique event is part of the series Sex, Drugs and the Public: Men, Women & Addiction coordinated by the BCCEWH. This Café is offered in partnership with the Integrated Mentor Program in Addictions Research Training (IMPART)

RSVP to:  bccewh@cw.bc.ca

  • For more information, please look under “Events” at www.bccewh.bc.ca
  • To check out our Facebook event listing, go here.

If you plan on attending, be sure to RSVP to the email address above and let me know in the comments!

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