Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

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Dear Erik,

How’s that novel coming along? Forget what I said last time. This’ll be your masterpiece, so you should probably make it perfect. I mean, if you’re only going to publish one novel, it should be the BEST novel, right? But I’ll bet if you end up with the Pulitzer you’ll wanna try your luck on a few more. One thing I wonder about. Will yesterday’s Pulitzers speak to tomorrow’s readers? It’s hard to tell. I don’t read Pulitzer recipients. I read terrible stuff, Erik. It’s starting to psyche me wrongly.

Right now, it’s Halloween in Canada. This Halloween is dark. Dokdo compound is a mold-infested cement dungeon when it’s like this. Whatever. I don’t complain.

IM000322Anyway. I’m not writing to you about my physical discomfort. There’s something that is messing with me and I just needed to tell someone. It’s a story about a particular Kazakh civilian, no one notable, except that he possessed a peculiar piece of information that a Russian convoy waiting in Hungary had an interest in obtaining.

The problem for the passengers of the humble convoy on its way back to base was how difficult a time they had extracting the information. They’d set up shop in old Budapest Compound, you know the one. Two interrogators had committed suicide. One had his nose bitten clean off. Another, his neck gouged. The rest were tight-lipped about what had been said to them by the Kazakh, save that they would rather not return to his cell.

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IM000241“Which one is Snitski?”

A guard doing his best not to betray his anxiety nominated himself as the convoy’s spokesperson by answering the Swede. “Snitski, Sir? We don’t have a Snitski.”

The Swede flashed a grin to make your eyes bleed. “I think you do. He is 180, twenty-four years, dark, lasts forty-five minutes to an hour and is waiting when I take bed in half an hour.”

The guard’s eyes widened. “Oh, that Snitski.” A raised hand sent four guards off to prepare as the Swede sat and drank alone before the fireplace. She finished meat and lit a pipe. The Swede was perched, satiated, and mesmerized in thought.

information

This is the first principle the Swede wrote in her leather extraction log before each profile. The purpose of civilization: to lower the threshold of resistance an enemy of the state has to revealing information. The more civilized the civilian, the more likely he is to betray any secret. To civilize is to weaken the individual for the benefit of the state.

This Kazakh and his atavism would be hard to reach. Some former districts, stans and their surrounding territories, now loosed from the Soviet empire’s control, had no true civilians left. Even old Persia was to be part of New Rome’s economic plan. What went wrong?

“Now I need a Litovich!”

The guard began, “We have no…” and exhaled quickly, letting his shoulders fall. “Litovich, Sir?”

“You must be he. I need to know from you what the men say about the Kazakh and further on the information in the dossier. The cypher is as well as useless, the message no more informative decrypted.”

The guard cowered into his words. “It seemed as clear?”

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“As it sounds, Sir. A ghost in words.”

“And Rus Prima wants it why?”

“A weapon, Sir.”

“But WHAT is it?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out, Sir.”

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Evening descended further as muffled conversation emanated from the corridor by the antechamber. At first pleading could be heard. Eventually, it was desperation. This information was not easily parted with.

All information can be extracted.

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“On second thought, Litovich,” she began. The guard opened his eyes widely and held his breath. The Swede cleared her throat. “I’m weary from the day. Please keep these safe.” The guard pulled on the folder but the Swede kept a grip. He stopped pulling but kept his hold. “Litovich.”

“Sir?”

“I review them 7 AM over thick black coffee and rye toast with pig meat. Eggs are nice also, but I’m sensitive to your conditions.”

“Sir.” The guard nodded and pulled lightly at the chocolate brown. The Swede did not relent. She just looked into his eyes. He took a quivering breath.

She grinned, “Thank you for your help, Litovich,” and gently let go.

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“Snitski, out!”

The clump hastened to make a diaper of the white bed sheet it was shrouded in.

“Tell Litovich it’s 7 AM.”

“But it’s…” The Swede drew her lips together the same way she had last night when her entertainment said he couldn’t do a headstand. After a start, “…it’s 7 AM.”

“Why tell me? Tell Litovich!”

The diapered man hurry-scurried out the door. Soon breakfast came with the wafting smells of well-fried pork and fresh butter for rye bread.

The Swede finished scanning the reports as she pulled shells from boiled eggs. As she ate each part of each egg she pawed the Kazakh’s portfolio: a picture of him smiling with two children, a harsh typewritten profile, details, widower, children deceased, formerly a mechanic, now a derelict.

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The Swede shook her head as she concluded her re-briefing and finished her egg. “Useless,” she barked. “Superstition, conjecture, fairytales, melodrama.”

She rose to her feet, gave a scratch and let out a satisfied belch. She threw on a comfortable suit and rejoined the men. “Litovich! How far down does this compound reach?”

“It is one of former NPA headquarters so… pretty damn far, Sir.”

“Litovich.”

“Sir?”

“Mind the expletives. This isn’t a naval bar, it’s a military installation. We respect decorum.”

“Sir.”

“Take me there.”

“Sir.”
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Funny place for a Russian convoy to keep a Kazakh, don’t you think, Erik? You were in that one, weren’t you? You know how deep it goes. Oil wells in Texas are shallower. Fracking doesn’t go as deep. Gotta keep hidden, right? I just wonder why we don’t have elevators.
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“He is tortured now, Litovich?”

“Protocol is persuasion level only.”

“I know protocol. This is why I’m confused. Report states detention detail is five days for smuggling with interrogation at standard comfort, persuasion only. Release to embassy with report on our officers injured and concessions for reparation. So, why is he screaming?”

“Verbengeist, Sir.”

“Enough verbengeist! I want real answers!”

“I guess… I don’t know. You should see for yourself.

“Wait.” The Swede stopped right before the door to the room where the Kazakh’s bestial howling was a deafening, cacophonous gale.

“Sir?”

“How long have I been here?”

“Eight hours, Sir.”

“In that eight hours, Litovich, how many times have I told YOU you SHOULD do something?
“Oh, for our former glory. Please wait outside, all of you.”
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The Swede stood silently until the men, lifted by the dread noise, shuffled up the stairs grey and blunt like flung tools from an otherwise useful set of wrenches.
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There the prisoner flailed away, screeching nervously between gasps. The Swede shrugged her shoulders and entered briskly. The prisoner stopped screeching as she passed his line of sight.

The Kazakh broke the silence with a muted croak of a voice. “Thynally, thomeone who lookth thomewhat wathonal. It theemth a mithtik hath been made… AAAAAHHHHHHHRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!”

The Swede blinked inquisitively. The Kazakh burst into spasms, rocked back and forth, and screamed his voice raw. The Swede’s face did not change as she stood, peering at the restrained ape. “How would you like me to loosen those ties?”

“RRRRRRRRAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH… No, ma’am, thank you fo the denereth otho…BWAAAAAAAHHHHHRRRRGGGGGHHH… but I highly doubt that’th a… GAAAAHHHHHHHHH… wythe idea.”

“I could easily restrain you.”

“I don’t doubt hit… GGGGGRRRRRAAAAAAAAA… a womim of your builb… UGGGGGGGGGHHHH… but thomething tellth me… YAAAAAAARGHHHHHHH… he woul want to figh ta tha death.”

“You know what? This thing drives me nuts. Let me help you.” The Swede pulled out the mouth restraint. The Kazach’s eyes widened.

“NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….” His mouth clamped shut on his tongue like a bear trap on a careless hunter. He smiled and squealed with glee, regret, satisfaction and remorse. The Swede had to move to the left to avoid the blood spray.

Soon the Kazakh was banging his hand against the arm of the chair violently. He balled up a fist and scribbled furiously in the air.

“A pen?”

He nooded and shook, refused and accepted. He leapt a bit. The chair came crashing to the floor, the Kazakh nose-first. The Swede calmly rose to her feet, walked to the other room and returned with stationery. She kicked the chair back to its original position and pulled up a desk. After a few broken pens, there was at least SOME result, though nothing very coherent.
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The Swede read through the scribbles twice. She looked at the Kazakh tied to the chair and blinked twice quickly.

“So, the convoy picked up a crazy Kazakh. Great.
“Superstition. Fairytales.
“Oh, for our former glory.”

She walked out of the room, her voice echoing through the hallway. “Don’t worry, you’ll be out in a few hours. I’ll tell them to sew you back up.”

“YYYYYYYAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”

“Well, if you want to thank me, send me a card.”

The Kazakh just sat in the room, listening to the Swede’s footsteps becoming gradually softer as she ascended the stairs. He ingested blood, which he felt becoming dry as soon as it made contact with the back of his throat. He thought about angling himself so he could choke to death on his own blood. Then he realized something and thought better of it.
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Have you noticed your teacher standing in front of the class and lecturing continuously for long periods of time while you, the student, begin to grow bored and lose the ability to focus or retain any of the knowledge that is being imparted? Does your teacher grow angry and heap useless and damaging amounts of psychological torment on you while your brain, starved of stimulation, attempts to learn something else from your surroundings? Does your teacher reward students who are willing to lifelessly stare straight ahead of themselves, unmindful of the serious psychological damage that can come from non-interactive learning? Perhaps your teacher suffers from a common illness that is devastating our classrooms and causing students to hate learning. This disorder is called ARD, or Attention Requirement Disorder.

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I feel like this guy. On the right, that is.
–from http://assets.fundoofun.com/bollywood

Once you have diagnosed your teacher as having this unfortunate malady, beware that you might not be taken seriously by professionals. The reason your teacher has developed this behavioral disorder is because it is quite probable that s/he has been rewarded in the past for tolerating and accepting attention requirement as a legitimate teaching method. As with Attention Deficit Disorder, this affliction is behavioral. Once the victim of this disease has been diagnosed, the bulk of the treatment must be behavioral. Drugs should only be prescribed as a final remedy, but know that prescriptions do not solve the problem in the long term.

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Notable ARD victim, Mr. Snape. Class, say hi to your new chemistry teacher.
–from http://img.moviesunlimited.biz/

It has been speculated that media such as video games, graphic novels and high-intensity action films have contributed to ADD by splitting the mind’s attention, creating rapid response reflexes and destroying its ability to concentrate. Think about this for a moment. We’re making the argument here that modern technological and creative advancements have sped up the brain’s functions beyond the point that they can be considered productive. Does this mean our brains are failing, or that our idea of “being productive” is problematic? I do not recommend that we bring video games into the classroom. I simply suggest that we work WITH cultural and technological advancement rather than working AGAINST it. Big businesses in video gaming are profiting from an increase in human brain activity. Why can education not benefit from this discovery as well?

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No, I did not write this article just to make use of my extensive collection of sexy teacher pictures. Heh-heh…
–from http://pcdn.500px.net

The best behavioral treatment for ARD is the following. We must begin by becoming teachers to attack ARD at the root. We must plan interesting activities that stimulate thought. We must as teachers keep our introductions short and our interactions with students relevant. Here’s why: If students turn into zombies, simply watching, listening and taking notes, we as teachers will be quite easily replaced with television screens and robots. There’s no perceptual difference between a teacher suffering from ARD and a robot. Not to students. If you want to keep your job, you will follow these simple steps:

1) Prepare. Have a bag of tricks at your disposal at all times so that if your introduction is not effective, you can switch gears.

2) Interact. Make groups with your students and give them a relevant activity. Visit each group to keep them on track. This is possible with a classroom of up to thirty students (six groups of five students each), but anything past that is difficult and ineffective. Therefore, lobby your education board for smaller class sizes.

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I love teachers who love teaching. Doesn’t everyone?
— from http://marvelousmisadventures.typepad.com

3) Focus on topic-changing minds, specifically. If you’ve noticed that some students have a hard time staying on topic, it is possible that they exhibit characteristics of ADD. That said, attention levels naturally vary, and the benefit of giving increased attention to unfocused students is monumental both for them as individuals and for our future society at large. Before we rush to involve clinical psychologists in our affairs, let’s try the behavioral approach, which begins in the classroom.

4)  Stop talking about bad students. Realistically, a truly bad student is a violent one. Students who cannot keep from speaking up in class, or are more interested in cell phone video games, are not bad. Unfocused, perhaps. Uninterested, certainly. Here’s the thing: Teachers must get past their hurt feelings and take proactive steps to give students a reason to pay attention. “Because I said so” is not a good reason. If we mistake compliance for morality, we need only scan a history textbook to find out exactly how ethical compliant societies in the past have been.

When you spot ARD, consider that the sufferer of this common disorder has feelings, and those feelings can easily be hurt. Do not rush to bring their disorder to their attention. Simply try to understand this menacing affliction and do your best to help your fellow students who may not understand why their teacher is behaving in such an erratic and undisciplined way. Forming study groups with your fellow students will both allow you to retain the material your teacher could not effectively explain, and also give you a chance to discuss how you are responding to your teacher’s disorder. Besides that, the teacher will get the impression that you are fantastic students, which in reality, was true all along.