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289120.  Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:28 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
it does appear to me (still as a layman) in retrospect that it was a total crock - my layman's reasoning being that if there had been a real issue then something somewhere in the World would have gone wrong, and nothing did.

Wikipedia has a list of reported problems related to the y2k bug.

Bear in mind, also, that a lot of y2k problems would have been extant, and fixed, long before the year 2000. Those aforementioned financial institutions often perform transactions which involve considering what happens in the future (fixed term loans, pensions, etc). These would've shown up the problem as soon as the expiry date of the product went beyond the year 2000.

289123.  Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:33 am Reply with quote

Well I acknowledge the list you refer to, but I wonder how many system failures throughout the world could be found on any arbitrarily-chosen day, if you got the press of the whole world to look for them? That list looks to me like a day of fewer-than-average incidents.

289839.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:19 am Reply with quote

Fair point, although some (like dates showing as 19100) were clearly y2k related.

One more point to make about this that occurred to me overnight. As Mat said, the criteria for having a y2k problem were extremely exact and it's highly likely that, despite what was written in the newspapers, the vast majority of software was completely unaffected. The important point is, though, that people weren't sure which software would be affected or not. When you're talking about software controlling financial transactions of all the high-street banks, you really want to be quite sure that things aren't going to go pear-shaped.

Certainly I saw a lot of "y2k readiness statements" for various bits of software at the time which just said "this software handles dates in a 4 digit format and is, therefore, unaffected by the y2k bug." However, it was still a good idea to pay someone to check that rather than wait to see what breaks and then run around like a headless chicken the day after an extremely big party.

Molly Cule
289880.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:27 am Reply with quote

Paris Syndrome

Paris syndrome is a condition exclusive to Japanese tourists and nationals, which causes them to have a mental breakdown while in the famous city. Of the millions of Japanese tourists that visit the city every year, around a dozen suffer this illness and have to be returned to their home country.

The condition is basically a severe form of ‘culture shock’. Polite Japanese tourists who come to the city are unable to separate their idyllic view of the city, seen in such films as Amelie, with the reality of a modern, bustling metropolis.

Japanese tourists who come into contact with, say, a rude French waiter, will be unable to argue back and be forced to bottle up their own anger which eventually leads to a full mental breakdown.

The Japanese embassy has a 24hr hotline for tourists suffering for severe culture shock, and can provide emergency hospital treatment if necessary.

Molly Cule
289883.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:29 am Reply with quote

The face of Fear - Darwin

When we are afraid, the world over, we all pull the same face – our facial muscles contract, our mouths open, our eyebrows raised so we can see around ourselves. During the 19th Century debates about evolution it was suggested that this universal expression was God given, God had given us all a way to express our fear, irrespective of language. Darwin believed, obviously that the face had evolved. He wanted to know whether the face of fear was involuntary of not so went to the reptile house at the London Zoological Gardens, stood behind thick glass, protected from harm, and tried to keep a straight face as a puff adder lunged. The answer was ‘no’. Darwin found himself leaping " . . . a yard or two backwards with astonishing rapidity. My will and reason were powerless against the imagination of a danger which had never been experienced." He face of fear is part of human’s fight or flight response to danger, the reason we all do it is because we share a common evolutionary heritage.

Fear - a cultural history - Bourke

Molly Cule
289885.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:31 am Reply with quote

From a study from the Second World War, Psychiatric Casualties in a Women's Service, suggesting women handle fear better: "The women in the Air Force during the Second World War were less liable to suffer from hysterical conversion disorder precisely because they were much more emotionally expressive. Because they showed their fears more openly and talked about them, they had less need to 'mask' fear through physical symptoms. As the researcher put it in 1945: 'the socially acknowledged and permitted emotionalism of women allows for a more direct expression of adaptive and emotional difficulties, and that this renders prolonged and inconvenient physical symptoms superfluous. Men, on the other hand, submit to a sterner social and emotional code. They have, therefore, a greater need to preserve their self-esteem by the development of a more complex disguise or escape mechanism.'"
Fear - a cultural history, Bourke

Molly Cule
289889.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:35 am Reply with quote

In 1862 Duchenne de Boulogne, a pioneering French neurophysiologist, published a book, The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression.

He anaesthetised an elderly man, and through electrocution sought to reproduce various emotions.

He created a face of fear, simply through electrocution, the man pulling the face was not conscious. freaky.

more info and images -

289964.  Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:11 am Reply with quote

All good stuff, but I particularly love Paris Syndrome - especially the fact that it's particular to Paris. I should think that:

Describe the symptoms of Paris Syndrome

ought to work very well as a question.

290627.  Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:32 am Reply with quote

I’ve read in a couple of sources - neither of them brilliant, it has to be said, but I haven’t looked far for confirmation - that Jan-Erik Olssen, the criminal involved in the original “Stockholm Syndrome” case, now lives in Bangkok where he runs a supermarket.

290631.  Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:45 am Reply with quote

I’m currently reading “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds” by Charles Mackay (in re both Fear and Fraud) - and I just wanted to make sure no-one else was digging in the same pit, so as to avoid redundant duplicationism.

290633.  Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:50 am Reply with quote

I think that's a good idea. An influential book - according to the guy I've quoted before who thinks that tulipmania is a myth, it's the sole source for that story: all the other accounts are based on Mackay's.

291482.  Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:31 am Reply with quote

Haven't researched this yet, but to log it & invite comment: might be good to address the question of whether eating cheese at bedtime gives you nightmares.

291488.  Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:41 am Reply with quote

Background note - recent research suggests that cheese is useless in mousetraps.

291600.  Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:37 pm Reply with quote

Yes, actually when you buy a mousetrap there's a note on the box advising against its use. Chocolate, that's the boy.

291798.  Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:59 am Reply with quote

Hospitals are being urged not to decorate children’s wards with paintings of clowns in case they upset the youngsters. State-funded research has found that in a survey of more than 250 children aged four to 16, all disliked the use of clowns in hospital decor, with even the teenagers seeing them as “scary”.

The researcher pointed out that “children and young people do not find hospitals frightening per se - and only express fear about those spaces associated with needles.” In other words, children only become frightened in hospital if confronted with the evil terror that is The Clown.

Coulrophobia can cause panic attacks, breathlessness, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and “feelings of dread.”

Organisers of the Bestival music festival on the IoW last year had asked attendees to turn up in clown gear - but had to change their minds because so many people who’d already bought tickets told them that they had clown phobia.

The secretary of Clown International, a Tony Eldridge, said that clown make-up was much toned-down these days. Circus clowns had needed garish make-up to be seen from all parts of the audience, but modern clowns mostly work in close-up settings (parties for children whose parents hate them, presumably) and therefore wear much less of the terrifying make-up.

He also came out with the usual - indeed, unavoidable - dreary nonsense, explaining why it would be “sad” if hospitals did away with pictures of clowns: “We live in a world where everything is banned and it has got rather silly.”

Nobody's banned clowns, you red-nosed prat it’s just that everybody hates you. Can’t you get that through your hideous multicoloured skull?

S: Daily Telegraph, 26 Dec 07


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