Sophont
Sunday, March 27, 2005
 
Rev. Robert Johansen on Terri Schiavo
National Review Online: "And, quite apart from the question of Terri’s therapy and care, it is entirely likely that Terri has never been properly diagnosed. Terri is usually described as being in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), and indeed Judge Greer ruled as a finding of fact that she is PVS; but this diagnosis and finding were arrived at in a way that has many neurologists expressing surprise and dismay.

I have spent the past ten days recruiting and interviewing neurologists who are willing to come forward and offer affidavits or declarations concerning new testing and examinations for Terri. In addition to the 15 neurologists’ affidavits Gibbs had in time to present in court, I have commitments from over 30 others who are willing to testify that Terri should have new and additional testing, and new examinations by unbiased neurologists. Almost 50 neurologists all say the same thing: Terri should be reevaluated, Terri should be reexamined, and there are grave doubts as to the accuracy of Terri’s diagnosis of PVS. All of these neurologists are board-certified; a number of them are fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Neurology; several are professors of neurology at major medical schools.

So how can Judge Greer ignore the opinions of so many qualified neurologists, some of whom are leaders in the field? The answer is that Michael Schiavo, his attorney George Felos, and Judge Greer already have the diagnosis they want.

Terri’s diagnosis was arrived at without the benefit of testing that most neurologists would consider standard for diagnosing PVS. One such test is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). MRI is widely used today, even for ailments as simple as knee injuries — but Terri has never had one. Michael has repeatedly refused to consent to one. The neurologists I have spoken to have reacted with shock upon learning this fact. One such neurologist is Dr. Peter Morin. He is a researcher specializing in degenerative brain diseases, and has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Boston University.

In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.

There was a moment of dead silence.

“That’s criminal,” he said, and then asked, in a tone of utter incredulity: “How can he continue as guardian? People are deliberating over this woman’s life and death and there’s been no MRI or PET?” He drew a reasonable conclusion: “These people [Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer] don’t want the information.”

Dr. Morin explained that he would feel obligated to obtain the information in these tests before making a diagnosis with life and death consequences. I told him that CT (Computer-Aided Tomography) scans had been done, and were partly the basis for the finding of PVS. The doctor retorted, “Spare no expense, eh?” I asked him to explain the comment; he said that a CT scan is a much less expensive test than an MRI, but it “only gives you a tenth of the information an MRI does.” He added, “A CT scan is useful only in pretty severe cases, such as trauma, and also during the few days after an anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury. It’s useful in an emergency-room setting. But if the question is ischemic injury [brain damage caused by lack of blood/oxygen to part of the brain] you want an MRI and PET. For subsequent evaluation of brain injury, the CT is pretty useless unless there has been a massive stroke.”

Other neurologists have concurred with Dr. Morin’s opinion. Dr. Thomas Zabiega, who trained at the University of Chicago, said, “Any neurologist who is objective would say ‘Yes’” to the question, “Should Terri be given an MRI?”

But in spite of the lack of advanced testing, such as an MRI, attorney George Felos has claimed that Terri’s cerebral cortex has “liquefied,” and doctors for Michael Schiavo have claimed, on the basis of the CT scans, that parts of Terri’s cerebral cortex “have been replaced by fluid.” The problem with such contentions is that the available evidence can’t support them. Dr. Zabiega explained that “a CT scan can’t resolve the kind of detail needed” to make such a pronouncement: “A CT scan is like a blurry photograph.” Dr. William Bell, a professor of neurology at Wake Forest University Medical School, agrees: “A CT scan doesn’t give much detail. In order to see it on a CT, you have to have massive damage.” Is it possible that Terri has that sort of “massive” brain damage? According to Dr. Bell, that isn’t likely. Sometimes, he said, even patients who are PVS have a “normal or near normal” MRI."

Saturday, March 26, 2005
 
Hobart mail carriers fear Chihuahua
Associated Press March 26, 2005

HOBART, Ind. -- A 4.5-pound Chihuahua named Bobo has landed its owner in hot water after the pint-sized canine repeatedly terrorized U.S. Postal Service workers, preventing them from delivering the mail.

Mail carriers were recently unable to deliver mail to homes along a section of Guyer Street in the northwestern Indiana city because Bobo would not allow them safe passage, police said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 
MIT publication retracts two stories
Boston.com: "A technology publication run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has retracted two stories it published on its website this year, after it was unable to verify the existence of an anonymous source cited in both stories.

The articles, both written by New York-based freelance journalist Michelle Delio, were about last month's dismissal of Carly Fiorina as chief executive of computer and imaging company Hewlett-Packard Co. Jason Pontin, Technology Review's editor-in-chief, ordered the articles removed from the site after receiving a complaint from HP officials. ''HP gave me a phone call,' said Pontin. ''When I checked the sources, I could not in fact verify that the anonymous quotes were accurate. So we killed the story.'"

......In the second, titled ''Carly's Way" and published March 4, he is described as a Hungarian immigrant with the initials ''G.S." and as ''an electrical engineer who worked as a research scientist at the Hewlett-Packard Imaging Systems Laboratory starting in 1975 until he resigned in 2003.

''No record was found of any person with those initials," said Burk, nor were they able to find an employee with a similar background and work record. HP contacted Pontin, claiming that G.S. did not exist."

Sunday, March 20, 2005
 
Microphone responsible for shutting down Fort Worth-International Airport
Times Record News: Ap State Wire Feed: "FORT WORTH, Texas- It was Brian Teasley's custom-made microphone that was responsible for shutting down five gates in Terminal C at Dallas Fort Worth-International Airport this week.

Next time, he'll ship it instead of carrying it in his baggage, he promised in a story in Saturday editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Teasley, a member of Dallas-based pop-rock band Polyphonic Spree, had been in Austin where the group taped an episode of 'Austin City Limits.' He was taking a flight from DFW to his home in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday.

The percussionist for the 25-member band had planned to do some recording at home, so he put the microphone in his suitcase.

When his suitcase didn't show up on the baggage carousel in Birmingham, he filled out the missing-luggage paperwork and went home. He didn't know the suitcase wasn't there because it was under scrutiny at the Texas airport.

A DFW terminal area and several gates were closed briefly after a routine baggage screening detected the device, which raised concerns because of the wires and threading caps running through it. A bomb disposal robot removed it, and it was taken to an open field.

By the time Teasley arrived home, he had quite a reception.

'I had Taco Bell in my hand, and all of a sudden, these cars block me in my driveway. They've all got tinted windows, 'X-Files' style,' he said. 'Then here comes one guy with a bulletproof vest on, another with a gun showing. It was a very harrowing day.'

Teasley explained that the item in question was not a pipe bomb, but a microphone.

'I told them we had just used it when we were on Craig Kilborn's show,' he said. 'I still had it on my TiVo, so I was like, `Come watch it with me.' After they figured out I was telling the truth, they were pretty cool. I was talking to them about music. But thank God for TiVo.'"

 
You can all freeze in the dark!!!!
Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated
jaynote: this is a good rant on energy production, and info on our natural gas usage.

 
Senses
inviolet's blog - April 16th, 2004: "We've all heard it. It's spoken, written, taught everywhere: a human has five senses.

This knowledge is so basic, so completely accepted, that it is absolutely beyond question. Only a few crackpots insist that there is a mystical 'sixth sense'. Because everybody knows that there are really only five.

And everybody is wrong. Viz:

1. sight.

2. sound.

3. touch.

4. smell.

5. taste.

6. accelleration: every human body comes equipped with two three-dimensional accellerometers, one in each ear. Fluid in the 'semicircular canals' moves in response to accelleration (including gravity), the movement of the fluid causes tiny hairs to bend, and nerves at the base of those hairs relay the signal to the brain where it is interpreted as direct sensory data. And just as the eyes can be fooled with an optical illusion, the accellerometers can be fooled by a 'centripetal illusion': rotate in place for a minute and then stop, you will continue to feel the sensation of spinning.

7. proprioception: the human brain infers accelleration and position data by analyzing what muscle efforts are in effect. If the accellerometers in our ears were disabled, we would still be able to sense accelleration by observing (automatically) what muscles we must contract in order to hold our position. Proprioception is a computed sense, but it's computed at a low enough level to qualify as a physical sense: it registers on our consciousness as a feeling, not as ideas.

(I learned a lot about the sixth and seventh senses while flying airplanes with my friend Tripacer Driver. These two senses are actually quite dangerous when it comes time to fly in the clouds, without benefit of visual input.)

Anyway, my point is: If an entire planet can be completely, obviously mistaken about something so basic as the number of physical senses, about something so easily falsified, what other errors lurk within the phrase 'Everybody knows that!"

 
12 year-old's program kills plagiarism
theinquirer.ne: "A TWELVE year old kid has put the wind up countless Kiwi students by interesting their Universities in a little plagiarism program he wrote.

Nicholas Hinds, 12, who attends Otepopo School in the small town of Herbert, south of Oamaru has penned a program called Punching Plagiarism, which uses the internet search engine Google to detect if the contents of any assignment has been nicked from the Internet.

Nicholas told NZAP htat the project began last year, when his teacher Karolyn Jones heard that plagiarism was becoming a major problem at the big city universities.

The computer whiz kid developed a screenful of commands to generate the program. Meanwhile Massey University and the University of Otago are indicating that they are interested and want to evaluate it.

Unfortunately the program works so well that it netted one plagiarism suspect – step forward 12 year-old computer Whiz kid Nicholas Hinds. His teacher Frank Lewthwaite found Nicholas had apparently borrowed material from an internet site.

Write out a hundred times: 'I must install code that makes my own plagiarism undetectable'. "

 
Rockefeller University scientists take on controversial ’vibration theory’ of smell
innovations-report.de: "Two researchers at Rockefeller University have put a controversial theory of smell to the sniff test and have found no evidence to support it.

They say their study, published in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, should raise firm doubts about the validity of 'vibration theory,' which states that molecules in each substance generate a specific vibration frequency that the nose can interpret as distinct smells.

The reigning theory of smell, which also is as yet unproven, is that the shape of a chemical determines how it smells - much the same way as taste works.

However, at present there is no way to look at a chemical and predict what it will smell like. This is different from other sensory stimuli that are defined by simple physical properties. Color, for example, is defined by the wavelength of light.

While experiments conducted in this study were not designed to confirm the 'shape theory,' the results support the theory favored by most scientists, that shape of the odor molecule is the most important determinant of its smell.

'We didn’t disprove the vibration theory. We just didn’t find anything to support it,' says assistant professor Leslie B. Vosshall, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior. 'All of our data are consistent with the shape theory, but don’t prove the shape theory.'
"

 
CSI Medblogs rolls up its sleeves on the Tragic Case of Bosox Fan, Victoria Snelgrove's Death
CodeBlueBlog: "If an exploding pepper ball killed Victoria Snelgrove – and let’s assume for a minute that it did – this represents death by an atrocious concatenation of coincidences, and fearfully bad luck.

Bad luck is the layman's term for the statistics of event occurrence. Statistics is a branch of mathematics that the average person shuns, despite its ultimate importance in understanding why many 'unexplainable' bad and good things happen to bad and good people. Why don't we more frequently adduce statistical rationales to explain the many occurrences it might elucidate? As T.S. Eliot said 'Humankind cannot bear very much reality.'

THE MECHANISM
Let me say first that IF Victoria Snelgrove died as a direct result of a pepper ball striking her in the eye, then the likeliest of the unlikely explanations are:

1. As I have explained before, one proposed mechanism of death can be inferred by assuming the transmission of extraordinary pressure directed posteriorly through the globe, through the posterior orbit, then through the optic canal and superior orbital fissure. The implication is that there will therefore be disruption of cranial nerves and cerebral damage leading to demise.

2. As I also proposed before, the pepper ball could have killed Victoria Snelgrove by internal carotid artery/cavernous sinus injury from atypically propagated vectors of force or direct laceration from a sphenoid fracture.

3. A third mechanism I stated in a previous post was neurogenic shock, induced at the level of the brain stem and cranial nerves. There is a term for this type of extremely rare event: the oculocardiac or trigeminocardiac reflex, which has been reported from stabbings in the eye and is an event which leads to heart dysryhthms and asystole."

 
The Geek Guide to Kosher Machines
Wired 12.11: "But as appliances got more high tech - gel-pad touch controls; LED screens with temperature and burner settings; digital humidity gauges - creating a Sabbath mode became more difficult. Mayer Preger, a salesman at the Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath, noticed a problem when fridges started using sensors instead of simple light switches. 'You can't hack the new refrigerators like you used to,' he complains. 'There's all these computer chips in them.'

That's where Jonah Ottensoser comes in. He doesn't hack the fridges so much as work with manufacturers to give appliances a kosher seal of approval. A retired helicopter engineer who is himself Orthodox, Ottensoser teaches Sabbath law to technical teams at companies like General Electric, Electrolux, and Viking. His job: to guide them in building electronic brains and mechanical guts that are Sabbath-compliant.

Ottensoser works for Star-K, a nonprofit that certifies food products as kosher. Of several hundred kosher agencies in the world, Star-K is the only one that certifies technology, and Ottensoser is the firm's only appliance consultant. That makes him the world's lone kosher geek, the man tasked with certifying that the movement of every electron in an appliance is sanctioned by God."

 
Thieves take brain remote control
BBC NEWS :
The gadget switches off a device in Rita Carlisle's brain
A medical device which allows a woman to sleep by switching off an implant in her brain has been stolen.
Rita Carlisle, 53, from Knaphill, Surrey, suffers from a condition called essential tremor.

The stolen remote control gadget sends out pulses to calm the condition and can be switched off so she can rest.
Ms Carlisle, who now struggles to sleep, was carrying the device and £600 cash in a handbag which was stolen in Farnborough, Hants, on 23 December.

Christmas 'ruined'

She said: 'I'm extremely tired, I'm getting three to four hours' sleep a night, I can't turn the machine off.
'I had my second operation on 13 December and it was my first outing after leaving hospital.
'I just wish the people who stole the machine would give it back.
'They have totally ruined Christmas and the New Year. There was £600 in my bag as well so they have had a good Christmas out of me.'

Ms Carlisle says she is hopeful, but not certain, that the hospital caring for her - the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in central London - will be able to replace the device.

Police appeal
It was inside a grey and black canvas pouch, about the size of a pencil case.
The box, made by Medtronic, had four grey buttons and two blue buttons on it and has the serial number 7436.
Hampshire Police appealed for the thief to let them know where it is.
A spokesman said: 'It would be of little use to anyone else.'
The handbag was stolen at Asda supermarket in Farnborough.
Anyone with information was asked to call Pc Robin Ellis on 0845 045 45 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

jaynote: and somewhere out there, Harry Benson is laughing.....

 
Rat Birthday Cake
RachOfTheJungle: "First, I made a regular box cake. Then I ripped chunks of it out to look like it had been partially eaten.
Then, I covered the remainder of the cake in icing and decorated it all boring-like. I pinched the icing at the edges to look bitten.
I made the rats out of brownies sculpted in the shape of rats. Then I covered them with rolled fondant (a kind of icing) and painted them with icing color paste.
Finally, as a last touch, I made little rat turds out of brownies"



Saturday, March 19, 2005
 
Lafraise.com : vente en ligne de Tee-shirts - RTFMThanks boingboing



Sunday, March 13, 2005
 
Serious EULA Protection
Ed Foster's Gripelog: "A reader attending a recent tradeshow was handed a surprising promotional giveaway by the makers of BitDefender antivirus software. It was a condom - the BitDefender Prophylactic. 'Secure your every bit,' the package said. 'When used properly, BitDefender Prophylactics prevent unauthorized/involuntary exchange of potentially hazardous biological material.' While that was amusing, the reader was even more surprised to discover that in the package, along with the actual condom, there was a long 'End User License Agreement and Disclaimer of Warranty' for the BitDefender Prophylactic. It started off:

Please read the following end user license agreement carefully. If you do not agree to these terms and conditions do not install the BitDefender Prophylactic (hereafter referred to as 'the hardware' or alternatively 'BitDefender Prophylactic').

....The EULA also takes a very hard line in terms of restricting use to a single "terminal" and prohibiting the user from sub-licensing, renting, selling, leasing of otherwise transferring ownership of the product:

You may install and use one BitDefender Prophylactic once. The license expires when use of the product is discontinued (i.e. the product is removed from the terminal on which it has been installed) ... A license for BitDefender Prophylactic may not be shared or used concurrently on different terminals. You should purchase a license pack if you require multiple licenses for use on multiple terminals."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
 
flocabulary
flocabulary: "Flocabulary: the first vocabulary building exercise to combine hip hop music with the most popular and challenging vocabulary words. Each Flocabulary track is packed with words that are commonly found on the SAT Verbal test

What is the Flocabulatry advantage? The words are used in real-world contexts, and the definitions are right in the lyrics. Better yet, we pronounce the words for you. If you read the lyrics while you listen to the song, you increase your chances of learning the vocabulary. Listen, memorize, and learn."

 
Mike Davidson: How to Snatch an Expiring Domain
Mike Davidson: How to Snatch an Expiring Domain: "I recently found myself in the position of wanting to register a domain which was owned by someone else. The domain was set to expire in a week, and I figured there was a decent chance that the person who owned it wouldn’t be renewing it. Upon consulting the WhoIs registry on the current owner, I discovered the guy was a bit of a domain shark and didn’t seem to be around anymore.

So I placed a backorder through GoDaddy for $18.95 thinking that was all I needed to do. During the week that followed, I learned a lot about the domain expiration process. Two and a half months and $369 later, I am the proud owner of a shiny new domain. A really really good one.

This article will explain the domain expiration process and what you need to do in order to use it to your advantage."

Sunday, March 06, 2005
 
It's not just the hormones ...
Guardian Unlimited.: "Another clue that testosterone is not the whole story here is that teenage girls, while not as violent, certainly rival boys for downright bloody-mindedness during their adolescent years. Worse, I can hear some parents say.

The thing that is really irritating about teenagers (and by now you will have guessed that I have two teenage boys) is that one moment their behaviour is that of adults, while the next it is that of a not very bright three-year-old, or possibly, a retarded chimpanzee. Or an amoeba. The rapid oscillation between child and adult is one of the hallmarks of the teenager.

In fact teenage brains are going through a process of maturation, and it is this maturation which many now believe to be responsible for much of the behaviour that we classically attribute to hormones. These changes are independent of hormones and are a function of age.

It has only been discovered very recently that there are two main features of brain maturation that happen to coincide with puberty. Previously it was believed that the brain was pretty well set by adolescence but only in the last couple of years, and to everyone's surprise, it has been realised that maturation is not completed until late teens or even early 20s. One feature is that myelin, a sort of fatty insulating material, is added to axons, the main transmission lines of the nervous system, which has the effect of speeding up messages. The other feature is a pruning of nerve connections, the synapses, in the pre-frontal cortex. This is an area of the brain which is responsible for what is called executive action, which is a shopping list of the things that teenagers lack - such as goal-setting, priority-setting, planning, organisation and impulse-inhibition. During childhood, for reasons that are not clear, a tangle of nerve cells sprout in this brain area, which lies behind the eyes, but during puberty, these areas of increased synaptic density are then reduced by about half, presumably to increase efficiency.

These changes in the adolescent brain that occur around the time of puberty primarily affect motivation and emotion, which manifest themselves as mood swings, conflict with authority and risk taking. This new information has altered thinking about the effect of hormones on teenagers, because it has been realised that what we would call typical adolescent behaviour is not actually the result of hormones alone. For example, it is not just testosterone that drives risk taking, but the inability of the immature brain to assess risk properly that gets them into trouble."

 
La France: friend of civilization, enemy of the future
www.cultureby.com: Heidi Fuller-Love and her husband created a bed and breakfast in France a couple of years ago. They asked the village to make a small change to accommodate them, and all hell broke lose.

"Over the next few years we suffered every kind of persecution imaginable. The neighbour's scruffy mongrel with close-set eyes was left outside to bark day and night, adolescents with mopeds revved for hours on end outside our front door, the cantonnier sprayed our roses with weed killer, fisherman tramped through our flowerbeds and horsemen tore down a part of the fence, then rode roughshod over our newly planted lawn. When we complained they said our garden was on a right of way and we had the devil's own job to prove them wrong."

Apparently, this happens a lot.

Our lawyer in Angoulême regaled us with a host of similar tales. 'Making people leave'' was a well-loved local blood sport, apparently.

Finally, a Catholic priest helped clarify.

"You can get on fine in rural France if you don't take initiatives. But if you scare local people – and anyone who wants to change things inevitably will – then God help you!''

It’s tempting to dismiss this as simple xenophobia. But I couldn’t help thinking that that this little village on the Charente/Dordogne border was once more the rule than the exception.

Saturday, March 05, 2005
 
Carly's Way
Carly's Way: "An electronic engineer who worked as a Research Scientist at the Hewlett-Packard Imaging Systems Laboratory starting in 1975 until he resigned in 2003, G.S. thought HP represented the very best of American character -- 'a spirit of adventure and a belief in unlimited possibilities.'
He charges, though, that starting in 2000 the can-do attitude was killed by management choices intended to placate nervous investors and board members rather than benefit the company and its workers over the long-term. He warns that sustained cut-backs to R&D budgets over the past half-decade may have irreversibly damaged H-P and the entire U.S. technology industry.

I snuck out of Hungary in 1973, one week after I was told that if I ever wanted to advance as an engineer, I would have to join the Communist Party.

Being a good party member was far more important than your skill level, and so my boss was a man who had been a pig farmer. After decades spent raising hogs, he suddenly was supervising dozens of machinists, most of whom had engineering degrees and had built bridges and buildings until we were reassigned to 'practical and useful' work -- making parts for factory machines.

Working for Carly Fiorina reminded me of my days working for that farmer. I remember the first time she walked into the Hewlett-Packard labs. She said that our new company slogan was 'Invent.'  Then she told us that the technology industry would never again be as exciting and profitable as it was in the '90s. That we'd all need to grow up now and face that fact.
 
I knew from that moment that HP's best days were behind us."

 
The Death of Yesterday
The Observer | Magazine | Interview: Deborah Wearing:
"Twenty years ago, an everyday virus destroyed Clive Wearing's brain. Now, all he can remember is music - and his wife. Here, Deborah Wearing tells Louise France how their enduring love has become the one constant in a marriage without memory "


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