Friday, September 06, 2013

Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

Rouge Test at 17.5 months 
An early test of self-recognition and awareness of oneself is the rouge test. Performed in front of a mirror, a child would have a spot of rouge make-up surreptitiously  placed on their forehead and the reactions based on the child's response to the mirror image would be assessed. It is successfully accomplished by most children by the age of 18 months.  And by god, once we did spot who was in the mirror looking out at us - we couldn't get enough it seems.
From clothes shops, shoe shops, sunglasses shops, and a bookies amongst others, some recent places that I have come into contact with this obvious necessity of a fixture include;
Starbucks! I'm looking at myself as I ordered a Starbucks the other day. Scruffy, half asleep and surrounded by coffee slurping escape!
In a TV store. I catch a glimpse of myself while I ponder which big electric b**tard to buy. While beside me kids jump about in front of an EIGHT FOOT MIRROR sporting 3D glasses, screaming at their parents who look at one other with an undertone of hatred in their eyes, ''Why God, Why us?''

@DoucheBag said,

A bank! I mean what the fook? Yes, this is what it looks like to be broke. Haha, no they don't take bank bags full of buttons! ''Hey, I'm financially set for life as long as I die next Tuesday, you reflective son of a ...!''
I mean mirrors in phone shops? ''Yes, I think that this phone adequately portrays me as a bell-end, I'll take it''...just before you take a quick selfie and post it on Twitter along with some hoot of a line...Oh the hilarity.
In a deli shop! Right beside where you can heat up those heart-attack inducing lumps of dirt, while viewing the look of shame on your face as the microwave pings...and proceeding with a rubberneckers view of your own probable ''Oohh-face'' as scalding hot slop rolls from your chin.  

Discount Tuesdays: for those with room temperature I.Q's
What next, fruit and veg shops...''What would I look like eating this banana?'' Newsflash s***head, nobody knows where to look when you're eating a banana, so get over it.
Or petrol stations? Just in case you inadvertently go up in a ball of flames, well then at least you can have a front row view to your own smouldering crispy finale. ''20 on number 7 and some after-sun please''.

Years ago my grandmother used to come in from a night out and the first thing she would do is check how she looked in the mirror. Or I guess how she looked all those previous hours. I mean she was a great woman and everything, but sure by that stage there was no real point on fixing a stray hair. But nonetheless she did it and surprisingly not once was she presented with a 'There's Something about Mary' scenario.  

'Please leave the hotel room as you would like to find it'
Merle began first on tackling that unnecessary partition wall

Obviously we have the other side of the coin as with everything. Mirrors make a room feel more spacious...and all that Feng shui nonsense. Places such as barbers, fair enough, you're gonna have to wear this 10 euro haircut for the next few to have a look at the butchery as it unfolds. Mirror shops, I suppose. Gyms, to inflate ego's or deflate self esteem, either-or.  

Maybe some people just got one too many ''Kick Me's'' posted on their back and you know, they have to check themselves every so often.

Le Moi. Now available in 42"

And then there's the addition of the 'Black mirrors'. Those omnipresent gadgets that allow you to view yourself on a continual basis; the screens of gadgets, TVs, mobile phones, computers through which we interact with the world. But that's for another days ramblings.

Jacques Lacan's Mirror Stage (1936) was described as a founding act that lead to the formation of the ego and the perception of the Subject. The baby's discovery of self is an intellectual act that involves the translation of an image into an idea - the idea of 'Me' or 'Self', or is it 'Selfie'?

Either way, it seems that in present times the "méconnaissance'' of the subject is truly no longer a concern.

''Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only''
                                                                                                ~ Samuel Butler

Thursday, September 05, 2013


This is the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features or why you might see an animal figure in the clouds above. Derived from the Greek (para, ''amiss, wrong'') + (eidōlon, ''image''), it is a psychological phenomenon that causes some people to see a vague or random image as something significant.

The famous Rorschach inkblot tests (right) use pareidolia in an attempt to gain insight into a person's mental state and for personality assessments.

A prime example of pareidolia is in connections to religious themes and images. From the Shroud of Turin, a cloth bearing the image of a man - which some believe to be Jesus; to Jesus on burnt toast; to tealeaves Jesus peering up  from someone's cup, pareidolia has had people far and wide screaming miracles.
Research shows that a brain region called the fusiform face area is important in recognizing and distinguishing faces. So we're pretty much "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face - with minimal detail or effort.

Now you know it, prepare to be watched...from all angles.

''A 10 hour sleep and I still get hit across the head''

They had heard of the good
stuffing Mrs. Red had received

''Ladies ladies...Please!!
Form an orderly queue''

He hadn't seen him in a week...this wasn't going to be pretty
''What we see depends mainly on what we look for''
                                                                                ~ John Lubbock

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


While Cartels may earn millions smuggling cocaine, the farmers who grow the coca plants from which the cocaine is extracted, are lucky to earn enough to survive. They have a choice of selling yucca plants for 40 cents a kilo or coca plants from which cocaine paste can sell from $750 per kilo. The choice is straightforward.
From mother nature to misery for millions
Cocaine paste is the base material from which the drug cocaine is refined. Only 0.5% of each leaf is cocaine. It's a long process involving a staggering concoction of chemicals. The leaves are broken down with an inexpensive mixer of cement powder and liquid fertiliser which does the job of softening the leaf. Softened leaves are placed in a drum and gasoline is added to extract the cocaine. After about 4 hours the cocaine has been extracted from the leaves and is then infused in the liquid inside the drum. To separate the leaves from the liquid, a press is used to squeeze out the cocaine infused liquid. Soda crystals are added to the liquid mixture which act as a neutralising agent. This is then heated on a stove until all the remaining liquid evaporates. The paste is left to dry overnight leaving it in a crumbly texture the following day. This paste is then sold to the cartels who will turn it into high grade cocaine powder.
Growing any other crop would condemn most to poverty. It does come with it's risks however. Everyday, Columbian special forces enter the jungles looking to eradicate illegal coca fields and arrest farmers. From planting the crop to harvest, it takes about 8 months. A waiting game that can end with nothing to yield if discovered. 
For many people born into this world there are no silver spoons, but plastic spoons and dope.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Meth Zombies

Shabu or glass - shards of Crystal Meth
Crystal, Ice, Tina, Meth, it has been around as a street drug since the 1950's. In the US, the drug hit the west coast first and moved east thereafter. Crystal meth used to be a popular drug on the rave scene, but now it's so cheap it's replacing crack as the favourite high of the down and out. However, other reports say that in some parts of the U.S, an ounce of meth is currently more expensive than an ounce of gold. But when there's a glut of it like today - prices fall.

It's an 'upper', a party drug, a super strong type of speed that's 3 and a half times more powerful than cocaine. It can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected directly into a vein or under the skin ('popping').

People move from crank to meth to get more 'bang for their buck'. Known as 'poor man's cocaine', a hit of meth can last up to 12 hours making it much more economical to the desperate addict.

It travels through the bloodstream to the nucleus accumbens, a central reward centre for the brain. This is a release site for the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical key to human pleasure.

Dopamine is a natural chemical which causes us to feel good. More dopamine means more pleasure. It's one of the ways the brain rewards behaviour that helps us survive. Food and sex being two of the highest natural pleasures. And with crystal meth, there's a sh*t load of dopamine being produced - six times more dopamine is released than the body can do on it's own. However continual use makes it difficult for long term users to get a rush of dopamine with meth or without it.
In low doses meth increases energy and in higher doses it can induce euphoria. The initial high (rush) being followed by adrenaline-like effects which kick-in, increases heart rate and can lead to ''endurance levels off the map''. As the old joke goes, 'What's the best part about being a meth addict... Only one sleep till Christmas'.

Meth combines the hyperactivity of cocaine with the delusions of LSD (e.g. 'Meth bugs'). Users often feel paranoid with some feeling that they are under constant police surveillance. Meth abuse can also lead to violent effects. In Thailand hostage situations arising from meth-use led to a crackdown in 2003, but it is still prevalent on the streets of Bangkok.

Meth is engineered to trick your brain, keep you awake, prevent hunger, and make you feel brave. Interestingly, the Japanese created the first type of meth nearly a century ago. Later a perfect opportunity arose for it's use - World War II. It was administered to help soldiers keep fighting for longer and kamikaze pilots were believed to have taken it to keep them stoked for their suicide missions.
                                                   2.5 years later
Meth is more physically damaging than crack or heroin. While under it's influence, many users feel a crawling sensation under the skin, which leads to picking and scratching that can cause open sores. Hair becomes brittle. Teeth begin to rot ('meth mouth') due to meth impeding the flow of saliva which makes it easier for bacteria to build up faster. Further, a meth addict will most likely spend their money on a hit at the expense of their dental needs  Addicts are literally like zombies. The average life expectancy for a heavy meth user is 5 to 7 years.
Approximately 12 million people in America have tried meth. It is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. As much as 92% of users relapse after treatment. As the meth takes hold, addicts lives fall apart and there is destruction of entire communities. One such example is that of the Tenderloin, situated in San Francisco. San Francisco is notorious for drugs and a city saturated in meth. It was an epicentre of the 60's psychedelic revolution. The Tenderloin is one of the worst drug ghettos in the whole of America.  One young woman who moved to the area was told by a resident that ''people don't come here to live, they come here to die''.
The 'loin
A 50 block area, right in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the Tenderloin has long been a notoriously violent drugs supermarket. Meth, heroin, crank, and prescription pills are assigned their own specific corners - what you want, when you want it. Few drugs however have caused as much mayhem as meth and the Tenderloin is plumbing new depths. I once heard a dealer say that ''if you can make chocolate chip cookies then you can cook meth''. Ok we're getting into Walter White territory now, but homemade productions in the US have significantly dropped but the supply has not.

Mexico has stepped up it's production, and there is now the alarming influx of  an extra pure and potent 'Mexican meth' being mass produced in super-labs. This type of meth is not as diluted ('stepped on') as what would be normally found on the streets of the Tenderloin. Cutting agents such as MSM, a nutritional food supplement, is often used to bulk out the drugs size.
Asian cartels have been poisoning San Francisco with meth for almost 25 years, however their monopoly on meth is now under increasing threat from Mexico. The Sinaloa Cartel is believed to be moving into meth to reduce it's reliance on Columbian cocaine. The Mexicans sent meth into the US via routes that were already established by the cartels. Their drugs 'super-highway' running from the border of Mexico all the way up to the Bay area.

An operation similar to that of a terrorist network. 80% of meth in the US is now supplied by the Mexican cartels, with the Sinaloa cartel estimated to make $3 billion a year from drug trafficking. Between 2007 and 2009, seizures of meth along the Mexican border increased by 87%. But for every batch lost, a dozen are believed to make it through.

It's supply and demand, and with Mexican meth now up to 90% pure and less than half the price - demand is high for 'the Devil's drug'.

A previous meth addict sums up the downfall into his love affair with a drug that is destroying lives worldwide, saying ''The drug won't bring a rapid can see the shame, but you're just so high you don't put your head down and walk's incredible how deep the hooks go''.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Self Monitoring

Self-monitoring is the ability and desire to regulate one's public expressiveness to fit the clues and/or requirements of the situation. In any setting, people are generally motivated to behave appropriately (Michener et al., 1986).

High self-monitors (HSMs) easily blend into social situations, knowing what to do or say with each person. They appear more friendly and less anxious to observers, are sensitive to social cues, and are likely to vary their behaviour from situation to situation. High self-monitors read non-verbal behaviour better, and will change their behaviour to suit the situation as they perceive it. They are more concerned with acting appropriately than being true to themselves.

They are more flexible and responsive to their environment than low self-monitors are. For example, high self-monitors can be expected to demonstrate greater flexibility in adapting their leadership style to changing situations, using a variety of conflict-resolution techniques (Robbins, 1993: 714).

High self-monitors describe themselves as flexible, adaptive, and shrewd. They tend to use situational factors to explain their behaviour. They have many friends, but are not very close with most of them. They have different friends for different activities. Friendship loss is not a difficulty, as there are other friends to take the place of any that are lost.                 

High self-monitors are more likely to be successful in managerial positions where individuals are required to play multiple, and even contradicting roles. Thus, the high self-monitor is capable of putting on different "faces" for different audiences. Examples of occupations or positions that might require high self-monitoring would include HR manager, CEO, organizational development specialist or marketing and sales director (Robbins, 1993: 108).

They are often more effective than low self-monitors in jobs that require boundary spanning (communicating and interacting with different groups of people who, because of contrasting goals, training, or skills "speak different languages"). Since they can readily adjust their actions to the norms, expectations, and style of each group, high self-monitors are more successful in dealing with them than are low self-monitors, and this improves performance. Boundary-spanning roles are very important in most organizations, so assigning high self-monitoring people to such positions may yield substantial benefits.

Low self-monitors (LSMs), on the other hand, act themselves - regardless of the situation. They rarely conform to the norms of the social setting. LSMs are less sensitive to social cues, and less likely to change their behaviour from one situation to another. Low self-monitors tend to display their true dispositions and attitudes in every situation. Low self-monitors' actions usually reflect their inner feelings and attitudes and thus they are less likely to change or adjust in a new context (Greenberg & Baron, 1990, pp. 204-206).

They prefer to be seen as they really are, and they behave so as to express internal attitudes and dispositions. Their attitudes are more accessible, so LSMs have a greater consistency between their attitudes and their behaviour. LSMs are more likely to show effects of fatigue and moods than HSMs. They have few friends, but these friends are quite close to them. They have the same friends for all of their activities. They select friends with similar attitudes. Friendship loss is difficult, because there are so few that each will be missed quite a bit, and the loss will affect most if not all activities. They tend to have steady, and more intimate relationships, and they care about their partner's personality.

Low self-monitoring, for those guilty of it, may not always be about being oblivious in social situations. It's about freedom of speech. Low self-monitors may see no reason to hold themselves back or sugar-coat the truth - to say anything other than what they're thinking, and acting in ways that doesn't reflect who they are is not something they like.

Have you ever been to a club and seen some people dancing with wild abandon whilst others shuffle about nonchalantly? The wild dancers are low self-monitors, whilst the shufflers are probably high self-monitors.

So what?

Using it
Appeal to high self-monitors by telling them that they will look good and get social approval for what you want them to do. In advertising, high self-monitors respond more to image-based ads that promise to make them look good, whilst low self-monitors respond better to product-based ads and prefer high quality goods.

Findings also indicate that attitudes towards littering is partially mediated by the relationship between self-monitoring  (Ojedokun and Balogun, 2013).

So which side do you fall on? Find out here: Self Monitoring Scale developed by Mark Snyder in 1974.
Snyder, M. (1974). Self Monitoring of expressive behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526-537.
Snyder, M. & Gangestad, S. (1986). On the nature of self-monitoring: Matters of assessment, matters of validity, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1, 125-139.