Self Portrait 1967

me 17 001 crop 2 wp

Fellow wordpress blogger erikleo posted a portrait of himself today at age 20, which he painted in 1966. It inspired me to dig out this self-portrait at age 17, in 1967. A sheet of plastic was the etching medium. I scratched the drawing into the surface, inked it and made prints. I was a big fan of Albrecht Durer at the time.

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Behavioral Neuroscience Article / Circadian Rhythms and Psychiatric Illness

(Full article starts below.)

A note on my personal experience with circadian rhythm-related problems and bipolar disorder.

I was fortunate to be diagnosed in 1986 by a competent psychiatrist who had a “nuts & bolts” attitude toward medication. She prescribed lithium carbonate only; nothing else. She described its effects and side effects clearly, and explained that for the first three months or so my body would experience one or more adjustments as the dosage was increased to achieve therapeutic blood levels. This straightforward approach was excellent for an Asperger. I had the facts and a timeline; yes there were side effects like tremors, rubbery legs, a bit of stomach irritation, but these dissipated within a few months and were nothing in comparison with the total disruption and disaster in my life caused by bipolar disorder.

Within a few months lithium effectively transformed my ability to function, to travel, sleep normally, and endure reasonable stress. What was left to deal with was the toll taken by adapting over a lifetime to the chaotic and uncertain experiences of living with bipolar.

My point in relating this is that lithium carbonate has become “unpopular” in the arsenal of pharmacology. New concoctions of psychoactive drugs have made lithium “old-fashioned” and less profitable. A bipolar friend takes a $600.00 / month prescription, which he claims is of little help, but it’s paid for by insurance. In response, his psychiatrist just keeps adding more types of drugs. My lithium costs about $25.00 / month.

Lithium is one of a very few substances that can affect the circadian cycle in humans. (More about that later.) One reads often that a “replacement” for lithium is needed due to its terrible side effects, as if the new drugs being prescribed don’t have awful side affects. I think this is a red herring! I suspect that alongside the profit motive is plain old laziness on the part of prescribers who don’t want to take the time to work with patients to adjust lithium dosages. Over nearly thirty years of taking lithium, I have had to fight with prescribers who rely on Big Pharm propaganda and simply would not accept that a “mental=stupid” patient could possibly know anything about how a medication works in her body. Several (I’ve moved around a lot) wanted to stop prescribing lithium in favor of “something new” even though lithium has worked successfully for so many years. I found these attempts to be  irresponsible and unethical – especially with the clutter of trinkets from Big Pharm cluttering their offices. It was as if the prescriber was trading my health and safety for a pizza and pen holder.

_________________________________________________________________

Website: FRONTIERS in Behavioral Neuroscience Front. Behav. Neurosci., 06 May 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00162

Links between circadian rhythms and psychiatric disease

Ilia N. Karatsoreos*

  • Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

Determining the cause of psychiatric disorders is a goal of modern neuroscience, and will hopefully lead to the discovery of treatments to either prevent or alleviate the suffering caused by these diseases. One roadblock to attaining this goal is the realization that neuropsychiatric diseases are rarely due to a single gene polymorphism, environmental exposure, or developmental insult. Rather, it is a complex interaction between these various influences that likely leads to the development of clinically relevant syndromes. Our lab is exploring the links between environmental exposures and neurobehavioral function by investigating how disruption of the circadian (daily) clock alters the structure and function of neural circuits, with the hypothesis that disrupting this crucial homeostatic system can directly contribute to altered vulnerability of the organism to other factors that interact to produce psychiatric illness. This review explores some historical and more recent findings that link disrupted circadian clocks to neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly depression, mania, and schizophrenia. We take a comparative approach by exploring the effects observed in human populations, as well as some experimental models used in the laboratory to unravel mechanistic and causal relationships between disruption of the circadian clock and behavioral abnormalities. This is a rich area of research that we predict will contribute greatly to our understanding of how genes, environment, and development interact to modulate an individual’s vulnerability to psychiatric disorders.

Introduction

A significant problem that modern neuroscience aims to solve is the distress caused by neuropsychiatric disorders. The fundamental challenge is that these disorders are far from the unitary constructs we sometimes imagine, and almost certainly not caused by a single event, gene mutation, or neurotransmitter abnormality. Instead, these disorders are multifaceted neurobehavioral dysfunctions that in many cases also include symptoms outside the central nervous system. As such, neuroscience needs to address these challenges in an integrated fashion, leveraging the advances made using genetic, molecular, and physiological approaches. Several research groups are tackling the puzzle of neuropsychiatric disorders by exploring the hypothesis that homeostatic perturbations are at the root of such disease states. Understanding the mechanisms that maintain homeostasis and respond to environmental challenges that threaten homeostasis is of crucial importance. One such system is the circadian (daily) timing system, and studying how circadian rhythms are perturbed in psychiatric disorders may provide insight into their contribution to neurobehavioral changes in some mental disease.

This review will describe the function of the circadian timing system, discuss how various neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia display disruptions in circadian timing, and present the hypothesis that in some cases these disorders may be triggered or exacerbated by a dysfunction in this crucial homeostatic system.

Circadian Rhythms: A Brief Review

One of the most salient environmental signals available to organisms is the rotation of the Earth about its axis. The reliable and predicable circadian (daily) changes in light and temperature (to mention only a few variables) have provided organisms – from single-celled organisms to humans – a framework on which to temporally organize physiology. This framework allows organisms to accomplish two major tasks. The first task is predicting regularly repeating changes in the environment. Anticipating such changes in the environment can aid even the simplest single-celled photosynthetic organism in the prediction of daylight hours to optimize energy collection by allowing different biochemical pathways to become active at appropriate times. This then allows potentially incompatible biochemical processes to exist in their own temporal compartments, ensuring they do not interfere with each other. Equally as important is the adaptation to unanticipated or less periodic changes in the environment. The circadian system allows for stimuli in the environment to “phase shift” the endogenous clock, pushing it forward or backward, in order to adapt to changes in the outside world. Unfortunately, modern industrialized society can regularly produce light at the wrong times of day (e.g., light at night from electronics) that then can activate phase shifting processes inappropriately. This problem is exacerbated when individuals are chronically living “out of time” with their circadian clocks, such as shift workers, airline pilots, and medical workers to name a few. Growing evidence suggests that chronic circadian disruption can result in significant mental and physical health problems. However, the mechanisms by which disrupted circadian clocks lead to these health problems remain unknown. To determine potential pathways by which disrupted clocks can contribute to neuropsychiatric disease, we need to explore the processes that underlie circadian timing at the molecular and cellular levels.

Almost all biological processes in organisms with lifespans longer than 24 h display circadian rhythms. In more complex animals, the most obvious of these is the regulation of the rest–activity cycle. In mammals, the master circadian clock regulating nearly all circadian rhythms in the organism is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. This neural structure contains a self-sustaining oscillator that synchronizes local clocks throughout the brain and body (Moore-Ede et al., 1984; Butler et al., 2009). These “peripheral” clocks are thought to set local time in many body tissues, and are hypothesized to allow optimal functioning by temporally organizing biochemical and cellular processes throughout the organism. Animal studies have shown that shifting the SCN clock by light causes an almost instant resetting of oscillators there, but oscillators in the rest of the body take numerous cycles to fully resynchronize to the SCN and the external environment (Yamazaki et al., 2000), the root cause of the general malaise associated with jet lag. The mechanisms by which this resynchronization occurs remain unclear, although numerous candidates have been suggested (Cheng et al., 2002, 2006; Buhr et al., 2010).

How Does Circadian Disruption Affect Neurobehavioral Function?

Anecdotally, most of us are aware that disruptions in circadian timing through shift work, jet lag, or other processes can lead to neurobehavioral deficits. Such changes can manifest as alterations in mood, affect, or cognitive function. It should be noted that several of the most notorious industrial accidents in the past few decades, including the Bhopal disaster in India, the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska occurred during the night, with the individuals involved being shift workers of one sort or another. It is thought that several factors, including fatigue, interacted in each of these cases to cause or exacerbate the chain of events that lead to catastrophe (Colten and Altevogt, 2006). Thus, particularly in occupations with high cognitive loads, disrupted circadian clocks and sleep cycles could lead to significant degradation in cognitive function. An intriguing study in flight crews demonstrated that short recovery crews (those that are traveling mostly on transmeridian flights requiring repeated resynchronizations) showed decreased reaction times, increased error rates, and marked temporal lobe atrophy (Cho, 2001).

Animal models have also been applied to probe the connection between disrupted circadian clocks and neural and behavioral deficits. Gibson et al. (2010) used a repeated jet lag model in Syrian hamsters to explore the effects of chronic experimental “jet lag” on behavioral outcomes and neurogenesis in the hippocampus, since hippocampal neurogenesis is related to both cognitive and affective regulation, and may underlie depression (Samuels and Hen, 2011). They demonstrated that chronic jet lag by repeated phase shifting of the light–dark cycle results in learning and memory deficits accompanied by reductions in hippocampal neurogenesis. An important contribution of this study was the finding that deficits in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory persisted after cessation of the experimental jet lag (Gibson et al., 2010), suggesting that there may be long-lasting negative consequences of circadian disruption on brain function, even after the disrupting stimulus has been removed. In mice, Karatsoreos et al. (2011) demonstrated profound effects of circadian misalignment on the structure and function of prefrontal cortical neurons (Karatsoreos et al., 2011). Chronic (12 weeks) exposure to a shortened 20-h day (10 h light, 10 h dark) resulted in morphological changes in neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Specifically, following circadian disruption neurons in layer II/III of the prelimbic mPFC had significant shrinkage of the apical dendrite, without observed changes in the basal dendrites. These gross changes were accompanied by simplification of the apical dendritic tree (Karatsoreos et al., 2011). Although the neural effects of the circadian disruption were stark, the behavioral effects were equally clear. Using a modified Morris Water Maze task that is sensitive to damage in the mPFC, circadian disrupted mice showed marked decreases in cognitive flexibility. In addition to the cognitive impairments, circadian disrupted mice demonstrated an “impulsive”-like phenotype, evidenced by entering a novel environment more quickly than controls. These findings were some of the first to experimentally link chronic circadian disruption to a reduction in the complexity of neurons that are important for attention, cognitive flexibility, and executive function. Although the mechanisms are still unknown, accumulating evidence supports a role for circadian disruption as a causative contributor to neurocognitive deficits.

Links between Circadian Disruption and Psychiatric Disorders: Unfortunate Side Effect or Contributing Factor?

One of the most common, and highly disruptive co-morbid problems in many psychiatric conditions, including depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia, is disruption in the sleep–wake cycle. However, there is ample debate if these effects are merely symptoms of these disorders, or in fact, if they may be contributing causes.

Depressive disorders are characterized by multiple physiological and psychological symptoms, and present with circadian disruption in both behavior and in physiology. The disruption of the circadian clock can manifest as changes in sleep–wake cycles (Van Cauter and Turek, 1986; Turek, 2007), but growing evidence also shows circadian disruption at the level of the molecular circadian clock (Mendlewicz, 2009). Recent findings show that intensity of major depressive symptoms in humans is correlated with the misalignment of circadian rhythms (Emens et al., 2009), in that more severe depressive states are associated with the circadian pacemaker being more delayed relative to the timing of sleep onset. Whether this is a causal change is still unclear, but shift workers often suffer from mood disturbances and an increased risk for depression (Scott et al., 1997; Asaoka et al., 2013). It is important to consider that links between circadian function and depression might occur at many levels (Wirz-Justice, 2009). An interesting example of this multi-level interaction is evident in the development and use of agomelatine, a melatonin agonist that also has serotonergic activity. This drug is actively being used for its antidepressant actions, with significant results (de Bodinat et al., 2010). It is thought that agomelatine can also act as a circadian “resynchronizer” in models of depression (Morley-Fletcher et al., 2011; Koresh et al., 2012; Mairesse et al., 2013). In human studies, it has been demonstrated that agomelatine can increase the relative amplitude of circadian rhythms in the rest–activity cycle, including effects on sleep, which was accompanied by parallel improvement in depressive symptoms (Kasper et al., 2010). When taken as a whole, these findings suggest that circadian disruption may contribute to depression, though unraveling the etiology from symptomology can be difficult. Given that changes in hippocampal neurogenesis are observed following chronic circadian disruption, and that cell birth and proliferation in the hippocampus is related to mood and antidepressant efficacy (Gibson et al., 2010), it is evident that circadian disruption may contribute to the development or exacerbation of depressive disorders. As yet, how these various pathways interact and synergize is unknown, though changes in multiple interacting physiological systems induced by chronic circadian dysfunction are likely to be a precipitating factor. Although it is clear that there is a strong relationship between circadian disruption and depression, these effects are likely bidirectional.

In addition to cognitive deficits and depression, circadian rhythm abnormalities have also been explored in mania. It is well established that during manic episodes, sleep patterns are significantly altered (Wehr et al., 1983; Plante and Winkelman, 2008; Robillard et al., 2013), and circadian patterns of several physiological functions are attenuated (Goetze and Tolle, 1987; Souetre et al., 1988; McClung, 2007). To probe potential causative links between disrupted circadian clocks and mania, animal models must be leveraged. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that treating hamsters with lithium chloride (a potent pharmacological agent used to treat manic depressive disorders) significantly lengthens the period of their circadian clock (Terao, 1992; LeSauter and Silver, 1993; Klemfuss and Kripke, 1995; Iwahana et al., 2007). Detailed molecular work has shown that lithium treatment can alter several intracellular signaling cascades, including glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, a link to the circadian molecular clockworks (Iwahana et al., 2004; Padiath et al., 2004; Iitaka et al., 2005; Ko et al., 2010; Lamont et al., 2010; Osland et al., 2011). These studies suggest that this pharmacological treatment can reduce the symptoms of mania while also having direct effects on the circadian clock at both the cell/molecular level and the behavioral level. More recent work has begun to explore how defects in several key clock genes affect behaviors in mouse (McClung, 2011, 2013). Mutations in the core clock gene Clock can lead to mania-like behaviors (Roybal et al., 2007), and site-specific knockdown of Clock in the VTA can induce similar manic-like behaviors (Mukherjee et al., 2010). Together, the human and non-human animal models provide strong evidence that circadian dysfunction is not only a component of some forms of mania, but that altering the function of the molecular circadian clock can mimic many of these effects.

While pathways linking disrupted circadian clocks to cognitive function, depression, and perhaps even mania are being more clearly elucidated, links between circadian abnormalities and schizophrenia are less clear, both at the epidemiological and mechanistic levels. One reason for this lack of clarity is that the cause of schizophrenia remains elusive, and is likely a result of a combination of genetic and experiential factors. However, there are lines of evidence that point to strong links between disrupted circadian clocks and schizophrenia (reviewed in Jamadar et al., 2013; Monti et al., 2013). Epidemiological studies show that fragmented circadian rhythms, as measured by changes in rest–activity cycles or in sleep regulation, are observed in schizophrenic patients (Wirz-Justice et al., 1997, 2001; Wulff et al., 2006, 2012; Pritchett et al., 2012). This includes both sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia. Correlations have also been observed between the phasing of the melatonin rhythm and sleep in schizophrenia, and are commonly observed in many schizophrenic patients (Mills et al., 1977; Rao et al., 1994; Wirz-Justice et al., 1997). It is interesting to note that in most cases, the sleep/circadian effects observed in schizophrenia are independent of either the course of the disease or the pharmacological status of the patient (Monti et al., 2013). Several animal models are now being applied to attempt to gain a mechanistic handle on the interaction between circadian timing and schizophrenia. The “blind-drunk” (Bdr) mouse line, which presents schizophrenic-like symptoms (Jeans et al., 2007), has been shown to have phase-advanced (i.e., earlier starting) rest–activity cycles while also showing a fragmentation of their circadian cycles (Oliver et al., 2012). The Bdr mouse carries a mutation in the gene for synaptosomal-associated protein (Snap)-25 that leads to disruption of exocytosis. This points to an association between altered synaptic activity and neurobehavioral function observed in schizophrenia-like models and circadian rhythms. However, this work should be interpreted cautiously, as the effects of this mutation on circadian rhythms may have little to do with the effects of the mutation on schizophrenia-like behavior. It is more likely that rather than directly causing schizophrenia, disruption of the circadian clock may somehow alter susceptibility in individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia. Work by Vacic et al. (2011) shows that in humans, a copy number variant in the gene encoding for the receptor for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide that is found in the SCN (i.e., Vipr2) can result in an increase risk of developing schizophrenia (Vacic et al., 2011). As such, there is compelling and somewhat provocative evidence that disruption of the circadian clock may not only be a symptom of schizophrenia, but perhaps a contributing cause.

Conclusion and Future Directions

The circadian timing system controls all physiological and behavioral rhythms, synchronizes them to the external environment, and ensures temporal isolation of incompatible physiological or behavioral processes (Kalsbeek et al., 2007; Karatsoreos and Silver, 2007; Butler et al., 2009). Thus, the circadian system sits at the center of a “web,” and can modulate the function of myriad physiological systems, both peripherally and centrally (Reppert and Weaver, 2002; Hastings et al., 2003). Since circadian rhythms are phylogenetically ancient, with many molecular components conserved between diverse species, from Drosophila to mouse to human (Bell-Pedersen et al., 2005), understanding how optimal functioning of this system contributes to fitness or vulnerability could have significant impact. That disrupted rhythms are observed in psychiatric conditions as diverse as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia (Mansour et al., 2005; Roybal et al., 2007; Mendlewicz, 2009; Cortesi et al., 2010; Sacco et al., 2010; Karatsoreos, 2012), makes it intriguing to hypothesize that they may play a role in their etiology. However, as this and many other reviews indicate, whether circadian disruption represents a symptom or an etiology is unclear, and the specific contributions of disrupted circadian rhythms to mental disease are poorly understood.

This review has presented several findings from both the human and non-human animal literature that support a role for disrupted circadian clocks in the etiology of mental disease. Since the causes of many of these neuropsychiatric disorders are multifaceted, it is unlikely that a single circadian mutation, or single instance of circadian disruption, would directly cause the development of a mental disorder. It is also important to note that while there is ample and growing evidence of a circadian contribution to many of the disorders discussed in this review, some of the evidence is indirect, and none of the evidence specifically obviates other causes for these neuropsychiatric diseases. It is our hope that this review provides an additional context to the already rich work on the genetic, developmental, and environmental etiologies of mental disorders. We hypothesize that disrupted circadian clocks may instead make individuals more susceptible to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders (Karatsoreos and McEwen, 2011, 2013). This effect may be in a manner similar to the stress-diathesis model, whereby environmental challenges have more severe outcomes due to underlying genetic or experiential differences (Morley, 1983). Thus, chronic circadian disruption through genetic abnormalities or environmental perturbation could make neural systems less able to cope with insults. This failure in resilience could lead to the onset of neuropsychiatric conditions in those individuals who are made more vulnerable because of other factors such as genetics, developmental experiences, or environmental exposures. While still conjecture, we feel that this is an exciting area for future research that will hopefully lead to great strides being made in understanding the complex causes of mental disorders.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

A note on my personal experience with circadian rhythm-related problems and bipolar disorder.

I was fortunate to be diagnosed in 1986 by a competent psychiatrist who had a “nuts & bolts” attitude toward medication. She prescribed lithium carbonate only; nothing else. She described its effects and side effects clearly, and explained that for the first three months or so my body would experience one or more adjustments as the dosage was increased to achieve therapeutic blood levels. This straightforward approach was excellent for an Asperger (although I wasn’t diagnosed at that time.) I had the facts and a timeline; yes there were side effects like tremors, rubbery legs, a bit of stomach irritation, but this did dissipate within a few months and were nothing in comparison with the total disruption and disaster in my life caused by bipolar disorder.

Within a few months lithium effectively transformed my ability to function, to travel, sleep normally, and endure reasonable stress. What was left to deal with was the toll taken by adapting over a lifetime to the chaotic and uncertain experiences of living with bipolar.

My point in relating this is that lithium carbonate has become “unpopular” in the arsenal of pharmacology. New concoctions of psychoactive drugs have made lithium “old-fashioned” and less profitable. A bipolar friend takes a $600.00 / month prescription, which he claims is of little help, but it’s paid for by insurance. In response, his psychiatrist just keeps adding more types of drugs. My lithium costs about $25.00 / month.

Lithium is one of a very few substances that can affect the circadian cycle in humans. (More about that later.) One reads often that a “replacement” for lithium is needed due to its terrible side effects, as if the new drugs being prescribed don’t have awful side affects. I think this is a red herring! I suspect that alongside the profit motive is plain old laziness on the part of prescribers who don’t want to take the time to work with patients to adjust lithium dosages. Over the nearly thirty years of taking lithium, I have had to fight with prescribers who rely on Big Pharm propaganda and simply would not accept that a “mental=stupid” patient could possibly know anything about how a medication works in her body. Several (I’ve moved around a lot) wanted to stop prescribing lithium in favor of “something new” even though lithium has worked successfully for so many years. I found these attempts to be  irresponsible and unethical – especially with the clutter of trinkets from Big Pharm cluttering their offices. It was as if the prescriber was trading my health and safety for a pizza and pen holder.

The poverty of the male imagination is astounding

imagescensored

Men have ruled the world for millennia, but have they done a good job? Hardly: the results have been disastrous for the majority of human beings, and the future of Homo sapiens and millions of other species is bleak. The invention of increasingly destructive weapons, and the stubborn reliance on inefficient and toxic technologies, combined with the escalation of violence to a state of permanent and migrating global warfare, is not progress. Would women have done any better? How can we know? A crucial turn in the path toward the present ecological destruction of our planet is the male (delusion) of the overthrow of nature and the inextricably-linked diminution of women. Women’s contributions to the intellectual health of the species have been blocked by brutal means. Reduced to her biological functions, and labeled as categorically evil by the pathologic mind of archaic agricultural god-kings,  the female half of the species was reduced to perpetual slavery (juvenalization), no better in fact or treatment than a domesticated animal.

The rejection of female intelligence is possibly the most colossal act of stupidity in all human history.

Please refrain from commenting on my lack of femininity, my stupidity and my supposed hatred of men: obscenities are not new, intelligent or effective.

War is a social activity.

Abstract / Concrete thinking: Calculus

Examples from my college days preserve vividly the difference between those who think visually and those who are adept at abstract thinking. Although visual ‘talent’ as it was sometimes referred to by my professors, was a big bonus for studying geology, from geomorphology (landforms), to mineralogy (the crystal classification system) to structural geology (deconstructing relationships in space and time), in order to earn a degree, geology students were required to pass three semesters of Calculus, plus Calculus-based physics. I am not an abstract thinker; once mathematics leaves ‘Concrete World’ my visual mind simply goes blank – literally. (It didn’t help that two instructors were from India and China, and their English was unintelligible – if the U.S. really wants to promote science – math literacy, we should stop dumping undergrad courses onto low-paid foreign graduate students, who in this case were not shy about expressing their anger, and, on the part of one, hatred of Americans. It was an unhappy situation for everyone.)

No problemo! My visual brain could spin the wooden models that (no longer) are used to learn crystal forms, while other students were on the verge of emotional breakdown when tasked with this test. (Like compulsory figures were deleted from figure skating)

First panic, then strategy: I signed up for Calculus based physics before taking a Calculus course. I had to ‘see’ what Calculus looked like in the real world. It worked; I passed physics by sacrificing a few points on the mathematics while storing equations as whole images, and giving them names like, “the double violin with a thingy under the roof” and attached the image to a process for solving the equation. I had no idea what the equation described mathematically, but I could usually solve it. Calculus texts aid this approach since each chapter is organized by groups of similar equations.

I had no problem with math that describes geologic processes like stream flow, because I could easily see the realization in nature. So, physics itself was understandable as it applies to the familiar world of motion, energy and behavior of objects, but getting through Calculus as a foreign language was like decoding signals from a very advanced and very alien civilization. 

Graphs! A visual window into the abstract language of mathematics.

From Paul’s online math notes: http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu

“Now, let’s take a look at just how we could possibly get two tangents lines at a point. This was definitely not possible back in Calculus I where we first ran across tangent lines. A quick graph of the parametric curve will explain what is going on here. So, the parametric curve crosses itself!  That explains how there can be more than one tangent line.  There is one tangent line for each instance that the curve goes through the point.”

Graphs of equations do help, except that the image itself can be quite a distraction. In order to ‘do math’ I had to approach maths as foreign languages. The analogy is fitting: one can learn the forms and grammar of another language, but never become fluent, nor speak like a native.

NOTE: I often wonder; if I had known about being a visual Asperger, would I have been able to “figure out” a better way to approach mathematics in a slow and deliberate way that rested on intuition rather than mechanics?

Human Sacrifice / War is a Social Ritual Without End

For all the U.S. efforts and blunders since 2001, it would seem that the greatest beneficiaries of the invasion of Afghanistan have been heroin dealers and weapon systems manufacturers. And bankers, snack vendors, and uniform manufacturers; cyber-tech companies. Indeed, almost everyone but soldiers have benefitted.

We must never forget, that war is a contest between TOP MALES, who require human sacrifice, both civilian, military and economic, to ensure their status. Death of “inferiors” is irrelevant; specific human lives are disposable. Millions of human beings are killed and forgotten. A handful of soldiers in each war are selected as “symbols of sacrifice” around which totally insincere pledges by Top Males can be performed in order to confirm their power. Human Sacrifice is a social ritual.

WTOlarge

WTO: Russia is an “evil” paranoid nation? Click for large version.

Expansion-NATO-2014

A 25-year methodical attack on Russia by NATO. Despite propaganda, the Cold War hasn’t ended.

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BBC News online: 

Afghanistan profile – Timeline

30 September 2015, from the section Asia

a_thnic_1ethnic 1010

A chronology of key events: 

1838-42British forces invade, install King Shah Shujah. (Sound familiar?) He is assassinated in 1842. British and Indian troops are massacred during retreat from Kabul.

1878-80 – Second Anglo-Afghan War. A treaty gives Britain control of Afghan foreign affairs.

1919 – Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from British influence.

1926-29 – Amanullah tries to introduce social reforms, which however stir civil unrest. He flees.

1933 – Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.

1953 – General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister.Turns to Soviet Union  for economic and military assistance. Introduces social reforms, such as abolition of purdah (practice of secluding women from public view).

1963 – Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.

1964 – Constitutional monarchy introduced – but leads to political polarisation and power struggles.

1973 – Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic. Tries to play off USSR against Western powers.

1978 – General Daud is overthrown and killed in a pro-Soviet coup. The People’s Democratic Party comes to power but is paralysed by violent infighting and faces opposition by US-backed mujahideen groups.

Soviet intervention

1979 December – Soviet Army invades and props up communist government.

1980 – Babrak Karmal installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But opposition intensifies with various mujahideen groups fighting Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms to the mujahideen.

1985Mujahideen come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet forces. Half of Afghan population now estimated to be displaced by war, with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan.

1986US begins supplying mujahideen with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime.

1988 Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops.

Red Army quits

1989 – Last Soviet troops leave, but civil war continues as mujahideen push to overthrow Najibullah.

1992 – Najibullah’s government toppled, but a devastating civil war follows. 

1996 Taliban seize control of Kabul and introduce hard-line version of Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations.

1997Taliban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They now control about two-thirds of country.

1998US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US embassies in Africa.

1999 – UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.

2001 September – Ahmad Shah Masood, leader of the main opposition to the Taliban – the Northern Alliance – is assassinated.

vietnam-closer-than-you-think

US-led invasion

2001 October – US-led bombing of Afghanistan begins following the September 11 attacks on the United States. Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul shortly afterwards.

2001 December – Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn, Germany for interim government. Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of an interim power-sharing government.

2002 January – Deployment of first contingent of foreign peacekeepers – the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – marking the start of a protracted fight against the Taliban.

2002 April – Former king Zahir Shah returns, but makes no claim to the throne and dies in 2007.

2002 June – Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve until 2004.

2003 August – Nato takes control of security in Kabul, its first-ever operational commitment outside Europe.

Elections

2004 January – Loya Jirga adopts new constitution which provides for strong presidency.

2004 October-November – Presidential elections. Hamid Karzai is declared winner.

2005 September – Afghans vote in first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years.

2005 December – Parliament opens with warlords and strongmen in most of the seats.

2006 October – Nato assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, taking command in the east from a US-led coalition force.

2007 August – Opium production has soared to a record high, the UN reports.

2008 June – President Karzai warns that Afghanistan will send troops into Pakistan to fight militants if Islamabad fails to take action against them.

2008 July – Suicide bomb attack on Indian embassy in Kabul kills more than 50.

2008 September – US President George Bush sends an extra 4,500 US troops to Afghanistan, in a move he described as a “quiet surge”.

2009 January – US Defence Secretary Robert Gates tells Congress that Afghanistan is new US administration’s “greatest test”.

2009 February – Nato countries pledge to increase military and other commitments in Afghanistan after US announces dispatch of 17,000 extra troops.

New US approach

2009 March – US President Barack Obama unveils new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. An extra 4,000 US personnel will train and bolster the Afghan army and police and there will be support for civilian development.

2009 August – Presidential and provincial elections are marred by widespread Taliban attacks, patchy turnout and claims of serious fraud.

2009 October – Mr Karzai declared winner of August presidential election, after second-placed opponent Abdullah Abdullah pulls out before the second round.

2009 December – US President Obama decides to boost US troop numbers in Afghanistan by 30,000, bringing total to 100,000. He says US will begin withdrawing its forces by 2011.

An Al-Qaeda double agent kills seven CIA agents in a suicide attack on a US base in Khost.

2010 February – Nato-led forces launch major offensive, Operation Moshtarak, in bid to secure government control of southern Helmand province.

2010 July – Whistleblowing website Wikileaks publishes thousands of classified US military documents relating to Afghanistan.

General David Petraeus takes command of US, ISAF forces.

2010 August – Dutch troops quit.

Karzai says private security firms – accused of operating with impunity – must cease operations. He subsequently waters down the decree.

2010 September – Parliamentary polls marred by Taliban violence, widespread fraud and a long delay in announcing results.

2010 November – Nato – at summit in Lisbon – agrees plan to hand control of security to Afghan forces by end of 2014.

2011 January – President Karzai makes first official state visit to Russia by an Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989.

2011 February – Number of civilians killed since the 2001 invasion hit record levels in 2010, Afghanistan Rights Monitor reports.

2011 April – Burning of Koran by a US pastor prompts country-wide protests in which foreign UN workers and several Afghans are killed.

Some 500 mostly Taliban prisoners break out of prison in Kandahar.

2011 July – President’s half-brother and Kandahar governor Ahmad Wali Karzai is killed in Taliban campaign against prominent figures.

2011 September – Ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani – a go-between in talks with the Taliban – is assassinated.

2011 October – As relations with Pakistan worsen after a series of attacks, Afghanistan and India sign a strategic partnership to expand co-operation in security and development.

Military pact

2011 November – President Karzai wins the endorsement of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military partnership with the US at a loya jirga traditional assembly. The proposed pact will see US troops remain after 2014, when foreign troops are due to leave the country.

2011 December – At least 58 people are killed in twin attacks at a Shia shrine in Kabul and a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Pakistan and the Taleban boycott the scheduled Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. Pakistan refuses to attend after a Nato air strike killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

2012 January – Taliban agree to open office in Dubai as a move towards peace talks with the US and the Afghan government.

2012 February – At least 30 people are killed in protests about the burning of copies of the Koran at the US Bagram airbase. US officials believed Taliban prisoners were using the books to pass messages, and that they were extremist texts not Korans. Two soldiers are also killed in reprisal attacks.

2012 March – US Army Sgt Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 civilians in an armed rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar.

2012 April – Taliban announce “spring offensive” with audacious attack on the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. The government blamed the Haqqani Network. Security forces kill 38 militants.

Nato withdrawal plan

2012 May – Nato summit endorses the plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. New French President Francois Hollande says France will withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012 – a year earlier than planned.

Arsala Rahmani of the High Peace Council is shot dead in Kabul. A former Taliban minister, he was crucial in reaching out to rebel commanders. The Taliban deny responsibility.

2012 July – Tokyo donor conference pledges $16bn in civilian aid to Afghanistan up to 2016, with US, Japan, Germany and UK supplying bulk of funds. Afghanistan agrees to new conditions to counter corruption.

2012 August – The US military discipline six soldiers for accidentally burning copies of the Koran and other religious texts in Afghanistan. They will not face criminal prosecution. Three US Marines are also disciplined for a video in which the bodies of dead Taliban fighters were urinated on.

2012 September – US hands over Bagram high-security jail to the Afghan government, although it retains control over some foreign prisoners until March 2013. The US also suspends training new police recruits in order to carry out checks on possible ties to Taliban following series of attacks on foreign troops by apparent police and Afghan soldiers.

2013 February – President Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari agree to work for an Afghan peace deal within six months after talks hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. They back the opening of an Afghan office in Doha and urge the Taliban to do the same for talks to take place.

2013 March – Two former Kabul Bank chiefs, Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, are jailed for the multi-million dollar fraud that almost led to its collapse and that of the entire Afghan banking system in 2010.

2013 June – Afghan army takes command of all military and security operations from Nato forces. President Karzai suspends security talks with the US after Washington announces it plans to hold direct talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan insists on conducting the talks with the Taliban in Qatar itself.

2014 January – Taliban suicide squad hits a restaurant in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, the worst attack on foreign civilians since 2001. The 13 foreign victims include IMF country head.

2014 April – The presidential election produces an inconclusive result and goes on to a second round between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

2014 June – Second round of presidential election is held, with more than 50 reported killed in various incidents during the vote. Election officials begin recount of all votes cast in June’s presidential run-off, as part of a US-mediated deal to end dispute between candidates over widespread claims of fraud.

Election deal

2014 September – The two rivals for the Afghan presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, sign a power-sharing agreement, following a two-month audit of disputed election results. Ashraf Ghani is sworn in as president.

2014 October – The US and Britain end their combat operations in Afghanistan. Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reaches an all-time high, according to a US report

2014 December – NATO formally ends its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan, handing over to Afghan forces. Despite the official end to Isaf’s combat role, violence persists across much of the country, with 2014 said to be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001.

2015 January – NATO-led follow-on mission “Resolute Support” gets underway, with some 12,000 personnel to provide further training and support for Afghan security forces.

2015 March – US President Barak Obama announces that his country will delay its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, following a request from President Ashraf Ghani.

The lynching of a woman wrongly accused of burning a Koran in Kabul provokes widespread revulsion and criticism of hard-line clerics. Police face accusations of doing too little to save her. The incident leads to widespread protests against the treatment of women. Four men are later convicted of murder.

2015 May – Taliban representatives and Afghan officials hold informal peace talks in Qatar. Both sides agree to continue the talks at a later date, though the Taliban insist they will not stop fighting until all foreign troops leave the country.

2015 September – Taliban capture major northern city of Kunduz in their most significant advance since being forced from power in 2001.

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From Lonely Planet: Afghanistan _ From the Persians to the Greeks

The prehistory of Afghanistan has been little studied, but there is evidence of pastoralism and agriculture in the region from around 10,000 years ago. Lapis lazuli from Badakhshan was being traded with Mesopotamia and India for at least 7000 years, and around 1500 BC the country became populated by the Indo-Aryans moving in from the west. Afghanistan doesn’t enter written history until around the 6th century BC, when it became part of the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great. The Persians were the world’s superpower of the time, and Afghanistan was divided into satrapies – Ariana (Herat), Arachosia (Kandahar), Bactria (Balkh) and Gandhara (the Kabul Valley). (Sound familiar?) The Bactrians in particular were renowned fighters. At some stage during this period Zoroaster was born in Bactria, giving rise to the Zoroastrian religion that was quickly adopted by the Achaemenids.

Persia’s great rival was Greece, and in 334 BC Alexander the Great launched a huge campaign against Darius III. Just 24 years old, Alexander’s military genius quickly conquered the Mediterranean coast and the Achaemenid capital at Persepolis in modern Iran. His kingdom in ruins, Darius fled to Afghanistan where he was betrayed by the Bactrian satrap Bessus, who in turn proclaimed himself king. Alexander was outraged and led his army deep into Afghanistan, sweeping through the south before crossing the Hindu Kush and driving Bessus towards the Oxus (Amu Darya). He captured Bactria and Bessus, who was executed for his resistance.

Afghanistan got deep into Alexander’s blood. He took his bride Roxanne in Balkh, and founded Bagram as a base for his invasion of India. Moreover he adopted local dress, and tried to set himself up as dictator. Only an eventual troop rebellion quelled his ambition, and he eventually turned for home to die at Babylon in 323 BC, leaving no named heir but having conquered much of the known world.

Alexander left behind ten years of chaos in Bactria, with thousands of Greeks stationed far from home. (Sound familiar?) From the anarchy came Seleucus who began to weld together the foundations of the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom. This Hellenistic state deep in Asia sparked a centuries-long period of profound East-West cultural exchange, disseminating the aesthetics of the Classical world and absorbing the influences of both the central Asian steppe and the Indian subcontinent. Ai Khanoum, the easternmost Greek city in the world was a place of gymnasiums and theatres performing the Greek tragedies, temples to the old gods and groves of olive trees.

Tuesday in Wyoming / Mud Watch

No place I have to be; nothing I must do.

So I choose: MUD WATCHING

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A contribution of muddy water issuing from a shallow tributary upstream hugs the bank. A mixing zone has formed between the muddy content and the (clearer) main channel. Fluids and gases mix like this (density, chemistry, energy, container) all over the universe.

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Closer view of mixing zone.