Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2021.12.01
The problem is, they will outlaw almost everything while enforcing very little.
Imprisonment by stealth. People will not know they are encircled until it is too
late - like putting in all these very deep, robust fence-posts with no fence
panels. All seems open. One day you will wake up and the panels are in, you are
trapped and they can decide what law they wish to impose to nail whomsoever they
desire.

		Regular commenter TimC to samizdata.net, Imprisonment by stealth

2006.09.21

The Tin Foil Brain

This from Swiss researchers, so you know it’s accurate:

Stimulating a certain area of the brain can produce a creepy feeling that someone is watching you when no one is, scientists said Wednesday.

Swiss researchers made the discovery while evaluating a young woman for surgery to treat epilepsy. They believe their finding could help explain feelings such as paranoia which afflict patients suffering from schizophrenia.

When they electrically stimulated the left temporoparietal junction in her brain, which is linked to self-other distinction and self-processing, she thought someone was standing behind her.

If they repeated the stimulus while she leaned forward and grabbed her knees she had an unpleasant sensation that the shadowy figure was embracing her.

“Our findings may be a step toward understanding the mechanisms behind psychiatric manifestations such as paranoia, persecution and alien control,” said Olaf Blanke, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in the journal Nature.

The left side of the brain. Hmmmmmmmm. We can only hope that someday appropriate medication will help.

[Edit History]

2006.09.23

Added link to original article.

2006.09.02

Steal This Lunch

Go ahead. I dare you. From the New York Times:

For those with autonomy in their jobs – generally, well-paid professionals – breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator.

I think what creeps people out, and by people I mean “guys”, about this is that it’s stuff which was once inside someone’s body and now is on the outside. Most generally, when this happens, it’s not a good thing, ranging on a scale from unpleasant (“Earl, there’s something on your nose.”) to disgusting (“Earl, that looks infected.”) to flat out horrifying (“Somebody get a tourniquet around Earl’s torso fast!”).

To most, there’s nothing cute about a baby burp, especially as the count rises over time. Although Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes might go gaga over baby’s goo goo given their propensity for collecting trophy excretions. What’s worse, from a guys perspective, is the stuff is being saved. And for non-clinical reasons at that. Imagine a bag labeled “Earl’s sputum. DO NOT TAKE!” or “Earl’s sperm. DO NOT TAKE!” parked in the office refrigerator right next to your egg salad sandwich.

That’s how guys think about it. Of course, babies think otherwise. They have yet to be bent by our convoluted, contradictory and puritanical social conventions. They have yet to be pressured by peers and crushed by the protuberant herd in their journey from self expression to self repression.

Personally, this doesn’t bug me. My perspective is rather pragmatic on these things, the result of having grown up with five sisters, three of whom followed my mother into nursing careers, and supporting my late wife, Janet, through 10 years of battling breast cancer. These experiences left scant room for mystery in regard to what women have to deal with while growing up and trying to forge a career.

Pump away girls, it bugs me not.

A discussion thread is happening about this article over on Althouse (H/T, by the way).

[Edit History]

2006.09.03

Fixed klutzy sentence.

2006.09.23

Edited for clarity.

2006.10.02

Updated dead link to Tom and Katie’s trophy.

2006.08.29

Variation On A Theme No. 4,577,308,253 By God

The Spring and Fall are the best seasons to walk along my life long favorite trails. This evening it was the Highline Canal Trail. I’ve walked this trail since, well, since I could walk. It’s evening walks like these, alone with my thoughts, that I feel I could never live anywhere but Colorado.

But the walks are changing. Deep gashes are being hacked out of the land on either side of the trail to build colossal, five story buildings some people seem to need. Stranger still, they call them “homes.” Thankfully, they haven’t rubbed out nature yet.

As I walk, I can close my eyes and listen to the cicada and crickets, smell the woody fragrance of the aging cottonwoods and maturing sage and yarrow. Fall is imminent. When the breeze is just right, and the failing sunlight just so, I can even imagine Janet is walking along with me. At this moment, it would take a powerful force to pull me away from here. I feel the roots fading, however, as places exist in both space and time. The relaxing satisfaction of watching a sunset has been displaced by a deep sadness I cannot define just now. It’s a silence that has me listening for something. My sense is there will be a time when I must go and search for a new home.

All the more reason to enjoy this sunset. And so I did…

Sunset 1

Sunset 2

[Edit History]

2006.08.30

Grammar changes and expanded a few ideas.

2006.07.25

RFID In Medicine

This is a good idea and an excellent use of technology:

Technology that helps airlines keep track of baggage and sounds an alarm when a shoplifter tries to leave the store may be able to stop surgeons from losing a sponge inside a patient, a study said on Monday.

Doctors at Stanford University School of Medicine who tested sponges embedded with radio frequency identification tags said the system accurately alerted surgeons when they deliberately left a sponge inside a temporarily closed surgical site and waved a detector wand over it.

And they could go further. Its been widely reported that close to 100,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. And its been suggested this number is too low. I believe there are many ways computer technology can be leveraged to make the practice of medicine much safer. Mind you, not as a replacement to current practices, but as an enhancement.

I had voiced a related suggestion more than a year ago whereby medication containers (bubble packages, bottles, syringes, etc.) would contain a RFID coded with the drug and dose. The patient’s chart and wrist band would contain data about what they are allergic to, which medications had been prescribed and the dose prescribed. Coordinated with a central knowledge base about all known drug interactions an additional level of checking (assuming the medical staff continues to check medications as is done today) can be done by computers to ensure the patient is getting what was prescribed, the dose and interval is correct and contraindications/side effects are taken into account.

A thread on the use of RFID for surgical sponges can be found at Schneier on Security.

2006.07.08

Life on Fellini Street

Odd week, this. More so than most. Turning 45 without the one I had hoped to grow old with probably set the tone and the rest just flowed from there.

We’ve had a solid week of rain here in the land of perpetual drought. I had planned to replace one of the sprinkler zones during the holiday but that just turned into a muddy mess.

The person responsible for keeping me employed declared I was introverted. The surreal song-and-dance that followed as he strained to make this sound like an asset and a compliment is just too…beige…to describe.

Thursday I came home to discover someone had seen fit to walk up onto my porch and steal the 6 or so small American flags I had stuck into a flower pot. I found one in the street out in front of the house and retrieved it. This one will be hung on the inside of my glass door next to the Urban Scare Crow. I decided this act had some intent behind it which I didn’t like. Was it a political act? Was someone casing the house? Was it a solicitor miffed at the Urban Scare Crow? Is this making me needlessly paranoid (as opposed to necessarily paranoid, I suppose)? I filed a police report for the theft in case I need to establish a pattern or if others in the neighborhood had their flags stolen.

Minutes after the all-business police officer left along with his rather cute ride-along, Bethany I think her name was, all bloody hell broke lose. Six or seven police cars converged on the house two doors down along with an ambulance. The street was blocked and crime scene tape went up. The couple in the house had been in the midst of one of their numerous arguments and the dude went into his backyard and shot himself dead. We know this because the coroner showed up, too. As this was playing out, I looked to the neighbor directly behind me who is busily mowing his lawn. A little leaguer could have thrown a stone from where the lawn mowing neighbor was and hit the dead neighbor. Smelly gasoline powered machine being pushed across a lawn. Dead guy on a lawn. Only one conclusion can be made from this at the end of a week like this: Lawns are bad things. But of course, I already knew this.

I fully expect Rod Serling to ring my door selling cookies, magazines and V8 engine blocks. If he does, would you like me to put in an order for you?


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