Monday Miscellany: Tickling, Thoreau, Telegraph Chain Mail

1. People with schizophrenia probably can’t tickle themselves, and this explains hallucinations. Maybe. (I asked some friends with schizophrenia and got one “I don’t think this is true” and one “this is true, but only when I’m having an acute episode”)

2. Ben Orlin illustrates probability, as interpreted in various professions.

3. Motivational Interviewing is one kind of therapeutic technique, best used with clients who are unsure they actually want to change. (For instance, people who have an alcohol problem, but aren’t willing to endorse that it’s a concern.). I find it fun and interesting, and this training lets you choose-your-own-adventure while being rated on a variety of good-at-therapy skills. (No need to register, you can launch the session without).

4. The author takes the position that Thoreau should be dismissed as a raging hypocrite, I take the position that he sounds like a person caught up in scrupulosity obsessions.

Relatedly, I recommend Devil in the Details as a memoir of obsessions.

5. “What else could we have discovered if we hadn’t been striving for a ‘normal’ we’d never reach?” Disability camps.

6. I was curious about the origin of chain emails, and the story was better than I could have imagined. Involves Jack the Ripper, Pulitzer, telegraphs.

The “peripatetic contribution box” was seized upon in Britain as a weapon against, of all people, Jack the Ripper. That November, the Bishop of Bedford oversaw a “snowball collection” to fund the Home for Destitute Women in Whitechapel, where crimes against prostitutes were raising an outcry for charitable relief. The Bishop’s snowball worked: Indeed, it worked diabolically well. It snowballed, so that along with 16,000 correctly addressed letters a week burying the hapless originator, garbled variants of the return address also piled upon the Bishop of Bangor—as well as Bradford and Brighton.

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