I highly recommend Michio Kaku's “The Future of the Mind”
Thanks Murray, will give it a go.
While some dreams are seamlessly realistic, others have very shabby production values. I'm thinking of the kind where the action is so urgent that you don't have time to check out the dodgy stuff happening in the background. For example, you're involved in a car chase where some long-demolished location from your childhood just happens to be right round the corner from the Grafton Bridge. After a few of those the suspicion that you're dreaming becomes impossible to ignore and the dream falls to bits.
According to Leak's "memory" he discharged himself from hospital as he couldn't endure the behaviour of his fellow wardmates. The "disruptive" elderly woman in the next bed was real enough, but she was in an extended induced coma the whole time. As for the annoying guy who listened to sport on a radio that was perpetually - and excruciatingly - tuned just off the station, he turned out to be a total figment.
It seems that the mind - if that's what it is - can muster a vast amount of often mundane detail to create its own totally immersive verisimiltude.
Leading to the idea that anyone could be a Brain In a Vat and never know it.
While it doesn't appear to be online, I was intrigued by the Australian artist Bill Leak's account of his recovery from a major head injury in 2008. On waking from an induced coma he initially refused to believe that he'd spent several days in hospital, as his memories of having returned home to a totally illusory version of his regular life were so detailed and convincing. It was only when he was unable to produce the editorial cartoons that he clearly "remembered" having drawn that he was forced to concede that he'd dreamt it all.
It’s always useful to have something sitting around, if we suddenly find we need it it a hurry (it seems to have worked for the Rogernomes).
Geoffrey did get his Sir status back in the final twilight of that era, in the very same batch as Sir Roger.
In my early 20s I experimented with lucid dreaming where you try to set up the dream in advance.
A very long time ago, so long ago that I'm confident that no-one's privacy will be breached by repeating this anecdote, I knew a gentle hippie who dabbled in such things. The books he'd gathered on the subject dealt with concepts like the "astral body", and the belief that it left the physical body and traveled about during the hours of sleep. With the right "lucid dreaming" practices one could advance to being conscious throughout the astral bod's excursions, and retain a memory of its adventures.
All of this was taken very much on the patient faith that, unless one was especially gifted in the art of astral travel, it might take years of practice to deliver results. Then the guy's brother, who happened to be a hell's angel, moved in. He'd suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle crash and needed to lie low, as certain people had some kind of score to settle with him, and wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of his vulnerable state.
Stuck for something to do during his enforced convalescence he took to reading his brother's material on out of the body experiences. According to his brother, he gave the technique a go while home alone one afternoon, and found himself transported to the next room. The sudden sight of his pallid presumably astral reflection in a wardrobe mirror shocked him into returning to his body, and he swore off astral traveling for life.
Telling me this, my friend added that his brother had become a much nicer person since he'd broken his leg. Thinking about it later it occurred to me that I could have suggested that he break his other leg just to see what would happen, but I'm glad I didn't. As it turned out the guy found the Lord a year or so later and I've not seen him since.
So it's just like the American War on Drugs focusing on pot smoking homies instead of powder-snorting stockbrokers?
Hasn't that been the case in NZ since before we had drug squads, back when the vice squads enforced drug laws? Exercise caution around filthy hippies with posh accents, you never can tell for sure whose dad might be a high court judge.
Perhaps its time for a WINZ equivalent of The Little Red Schoolbook - laying out beneficiaries' entitlements and processes open to them...
In the meantime there's this, if you're in Auckland. As of a month ago their doors were temporarily closed due to dealing with a backlog of cases.
So it's not quite correct to say that no action has been taken with respect to predatory lending.
Ten years ago a group of NGO welfare agencies delivered a report to then Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett's office citing the urgent problem of loan sharks drawing the vulnerable into unsustainable levels of debt. Barnett promised to bring it to the attention of the Minister of Consumer Affairs. Shamefully, nothing came of it.
It's an issue that's come up again during the tenure of each succeeding Minister of Consumer Affairs. Perhaps surprisingly it was ACT's Heather Roy who made the most positive noises about actually dealing with the problem, but that was as far as it went.
While the activities of loan sharks appear to have continued to flourish largely unchecked, the Government's breathtakingly radical solution turns out to be WINZ beating them at their own game.