Friday, 26 April 2013


These are becoming increasingly tenuous.  Maybe i should abandon this for another method of naming the entries which actually refer to the content directly, but why change the habits of a lifetime?

Here's yesterday's main channel video:
Click to tweet: .  Mental illness is of course controversial, but i'm not planning to discuss that just now.  Right now, i want to point out that there is a much better way of understanding mental illness than in terms of delusion, including disorders seen as delusional.

Most psychoses involve delusions, including psychotic depression, bipolar, paranoia (or so-called "delusional disorder") and schizophrenia.  However, it's quite hard to pin down what makes a delusion distinctive.  They are generally defined in terms of false beliefs which persist in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but the trouble with that definition is that it applies to everyday false beliefs, many of which persist in the face of contrary evidence well beyond all reason.  It probably makes sense to adopt a tolerant attitude towards such beliefs, but this also indicates that delusion is probably not the best concept to use here.

Instead, i suggest that the overvalued idea is much more useful and inclusive of other mental health issues.  Overvalued ideas can be true and rationally held, but are the target of an unusually strong degree of focus.  Examples would include the rational but incorrect beliefs of paranoia, the irrational and incorrect ones of schizophrenia, and also the focus on self-blaming and negativity found with depression, the focus of fear in phobias, the unhealthy sexual desire for minors in paedophilia, the obsessive ideas in obsessive-compulsive disorder and so forth. In fact, it's hard to imagine any mental health problem, as opposed to organic brain dysfunction, which doesn't involve an overvalued idea.  As such, it's much more useful than the notion of delusion, which is really quite vague and has an "us and them"-type quality to it.

The thumbnail makes it look like i'm behind a glass door.  The idea was that unfocussed perception was akin to not seeing the world clearly, but in fact, given the subject of the video i think lack of focus is exactly what's needed sometimes.   People have, happily, taken this video and run with it on FB, and i like what they've said, but i want to take this in a somewhat different direction.  The overvalued idea works better, in my opinion, as a necessary condition for mental illness than delusion does.  The idea of delusion, to me, has a judgemental quality to it and includes the implication that there is an objective truth conferring authority, and it's also quite unhelpful when there is a symbolic meaning to a delusion, but aside from that, it tends only to work well for psychosis and not other areas such as paraphilias considered problematic, phobias, depression and the like.  Using the concept of overvalued ideas is far more productive than using that of delusion, which is not precisely definable and seems to imply that there are people out there who know the truth and others who don't.

Today's video is proving problematic, possibly due to the title, but i'm going to try to post it here anyway:

! to tweet: . The audio on this is unedited apart from a bit of amplification due to the subject matter.  This is about clicks, which are used by people all over the world but rarely in actual words.  The only languages which use clicks as ordinary speech sounds are the Khoisan languages of Southern Africa and the nearby though unrelated Bantu languages as loanwords, such as with Swahili and Zulu.  However, they do occur elsewhere, for instance one register of an Australian aboriginal languages uses an egressive click and around the Eastern Mediterranean, a tut represents the word "no" sometimes, so it can happen.  Apparently German also produces clicks on occasion, though i've never heard them.

Xhosa and Zulu therefore contain words with clicks in them, and in fact Xhosa (Nelson Mandela's mother tongue) has enough for a tongue-twister:  Iqaqa laziqikaqika kwaze kwaqhawaka uqhoqhoqha - the skunk rolled over and ruptured its larynx.  This is presumably a loose translation as the sentence does not seem to contain a Native American loanword and skunks are not native to Southern Africa.

Some clicks, such as the bilabial and retroflex clicks, are among the rarest sounds in human language, being found in only single languages.  Others are found in interjections and other utterances in English, such as the clopping noise, the "tsk" or "tut" of irritation, or the kissing sound.  They're unusually loud and, also unusually, can be pronounced while holding one's breath, although i exaggerate this in the video because in fact there are some other speech sounds which are like this.  The San people may also be particularly good at making clicks because their hard palates are higher than most other people's.

One of the reasons i spend so long fiddling with the audio on YouTube videos is my habit of inserting alveolar clicks at the start of words where other English speakers would use a glottal stop.  These are sometimes simultaneously articulated with other consonants such as S, and i often have to spend ages removing them from the audio files.  This demonstrates, however, that like other Germanic languages, Arabic and Hebrew, there are no words which always begin with a vowel in English.  However, English often elides the glottal stop in the middle of a phrase.  This does not occur in most other Germanic languages.  For instance, i once attempted to say "Das ist ein Problem" in German (That's a problem) but it got heard as "Das ist dein Problem" - "that's your problem".  Unlike German however, some English accents, including mine in a certain register, use glottal stops as phonemes, as in the Cockney "wo' a lo' o li'l bo'ls".  Danish also has a glottal stop as a phoneme but not in the same context.

A related subject is that of the pharyngeal plosives.  Just as it may be that the Bushmen of the Kalahari and their female relatives, in other words the San people, can pronounce clicks well due to their anatomical differences, the pharyngeal plosives are probably absent from all languages because many people lack the necessary muscles to pronounce them, a problem which is particularly pronounced in the Far East where something like one person in five cannot completely close their pharynx voluntarily.  This means that there would be a widespread unaddressable speech impediment in a large fraction of the population of speakers of any language which used pharyngeal stops, which is presumably the reason why they never occur.  However, other pharyngeal consonants are widespread in Afro-Asiatic languages such as Arabic, Egyptian and Biblical Hebrew, which raises the question of whether people from the Far East find it harder to pronounce them.

This is a kind of continuation of this:

There are certain things i can't seem to stop myself doing.  One of them is going "≠", which might look to you like a box, in which case sorry.  So, the answer, in time-honoured permacultural style, and possibly also martial arts style, though i wouldn't know, is to turn the problem into a solution.  It also gives me an excuse to give it a title which can't be detected by the YouTube search engine but which, in all probability, would make it the very first video on the site if they were put in alphabetical order, which is presumably never done.  It's a kill-or-cure approach really.

Yesterday's activities are tiring and time-consuming.  I still really want to do the pocket universes video but i'm going to have to find a way of doing the graphics.  In the meantime, i feel really that it proved to be surprisingly, how to put it, slack.  In case you're interested, here it is:

I'm not posting the doobly-do.  These are very time-consuming videos to make, so they make it harder to fit anything else in, so to speak.  As 'twere.  I'm quite happy with how the saturation changed the look of the velour.  Velour is nasty though, innit?