October 08, 2004
BehindTheMedspeak: Perseveration brought down the 'Red Baron'
Perseveration is a medical term for a brain dysfunction which causes people to persist in a task even though they know rationally that the chosen strategy is doomed and may even be mortally dangerous.
A new analysis suggests that perseveration caused by an earlier head wound is what led German pilot Manfred von Richthofen, World War I's fabled "Red Baron," to chase a British pilot into enemy airspace on April 21, 1918, allowing aircraft and ground fire to cut his Fokker triplane to ribbons and kill him with a single bullet through the chest.
Daniel Orme, a University of Missouri clinical psychologist, said, "He had target fixation and mental rigidity. He flew into a shooting gallery, violating all kinds of rules of flying - rules from the manual that he himself wrote."
Orme, himself a retired Air Force clinician, reported his conclusions in a paper recently published in the journal Human Factors and Aerospace Safety.
He described how Richthofen's behavior changed after a British bullet dug a four-inch groove in his skull during a dogfight nine months earlier.
Orme says Richthofen clearly suffered "traumatic brain injury."
He brooded, behaved boorishly in public, and pulled childish stunts completely out of character for the careful pilot whose 80 kills eclipsed those of all other World War I pilots.
"He had headaches, got sick when he flew and suffered fatigue," Orme said.
"Today the Air Force would have made him 'DNIF' - Duties Not to Include Flying."
The Book of Job
For reasons which don't bear mentioning, I'm always interested in learning more about it.
The Book of Job is believed to be based on ancient Semitic folktales.
No work of literature since has better or more eloquently probed the depth of faith and the meaning of suffering.
Scholars' estimates of its time of composition vary widely: some posit a date as early as 2100-1550 B.C., while others suggest circa 550 B.C.
The author's identity remains a complete mystery.
Baby Boom Pregnancy Watch
Fertile days, current week of pregnancy, 5,000 potential baby names, expected due date, and lots more.
Not bad for $110.
"One of the features of having chronic insomnia is that you sleep better away from your own home."
Dr. Rafael Pelayo, a sleep expert at Stanford University School of Medicine.
I would go further: this behavior is pathognomonic for insomnia.
Well, now what?
Try better sleep hygiene, as a first step.
I'll guarantee you that if you're plagued by insomnia, you're not doing what the sleep experts advise.
In the not-all-that-distant future, there's gonna be a link here to a live infra-red webcam right next to my computer and bed so you can lie awake watching me sleep.
That ought to cure anyone's insomnia.
Limewire - the good and the bad
I like Limewire.
It's Mac-compatible, and equally important, it's a file-sharing program that I can use without any problem.
I tried several others last year and was completely befuddled before I happened on Limewire, and now I'm a very satisfied user.
Songs, pictures, movies, it's all there.
Sure, you have to throw out most of what you get, but hey, the price - 0 - is right.
But there's just one problem.
I just realized what it was.
Of course, others knew of this from the get-go, but here at Technodolt Headquarters, we take a while to figure these things out.
I was wondering why it was that for the past few days, it's been very aggravating to use my computer; it's almost as if I'm back on a dial-up modem instead of my wicked fast DSL line.
What gives?, wondered I.
Only five minutes ago did I solve the problem.
About an hour ago, I remembered that I opened up Limewire a few days ago and have been slowly downloading tons of stuff, running in the background.
So I simply stopped downloading stuff, figuring that would fix my computer problem.
I mean, it's logical that all the bandwidth was being taken up by movie bits, crowding out my bookofjoe bits.
Killing the downloads didn't change a thing.
Then I realized that as long as Limewire is on, even if I'm not actively downloading, my files are being shared.
I mean, that's how the thing works.
As Neil Young sang, "I give to you, and you give to me."
So I closed Limewire.
Bingo, I'm wicked fast again, pages snap right up and open.
I like surprises, and things that are other than what they appear or seem.
This lamp looks like it never left the packaging.
Designed by Sun-Ad, a Japanese advertising agency that decided to apply its conceptual and commercial skills to a product design venture called "Rock, Paper, Scissors."
404 Error (Page Not Found)
Ever get one of those? Really? Me too.
So when I got the one above, I laughed out loud and said to myself, that's the best one yet.
But as is so often the case, I was wrong.
Turns out there's a whole
website devoted to 404 error pages, with a lot of really great ones and tons of other 404-related stuff.
For starters, there's the 404 of the week.
The site has links to the best 404 Not Found errors on the web, "researched and categorized for your surfing enjoyment."
There're all kinds of professional tips and hints on how to make your own cool 404 page.
There's 404 Purgatory, "a loving tribute to 404 Not Found."
There's a link to tricks that can help you conquer up to 70% of the 404 pages you encounter.
Finally, there's the history of 404, "strange and scandalous. What you see here will shock and amaze you."
Screaming Meanie - Industrial Strength Travel Alarm
This device was created for long-distance truckers, but it's ideal for anyone who wants to get some sleep and ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY must get up on time.
It costs $29.99, measures 5.25" x 2.25" x 1", and comes in black, translucent red, or translucent blue (above).
It's a 20-hour countdown timer - on steroids.
You simply set the hours and minutes before you want to wake up (up to 19 hours 59 minutes) and go to sleep, secure in the knowledge that no matter what, you won't sleep through your alarm.
No more waking up 5 or 6 times to check and make sure you set it.
The alarm is so loud, you can wear your earplugs and get a really good night's sleep secure in the knowledge that you'll be jolted awake right on time.
Starting 10 minutes before the timer expires, a piercing 110 dB siren - "loud enough to wake the dead" - goes off.
There are two volume settings: "loud" and "frighteningly loud."
At 5 minutes before, another pre-alarm 110db siren goes off.
Finally, at time 0, it goes off again, 110 db strong.
No more worries about AM/PM, times zones, or anything.
Includes a backlit display to check time remaining, and a built-in battery tester.
The 5- and 10-minutes pre-alarms can be silenced by a single button press, but the final alarm requires 3 buttons to be pushed simultaneously - a maneuver complex enough that you will have to wake up to shut the darned thing off.
The Screaming Meanie 220 (formerly called the Screaming Beekin") adds a clock with an indigo back light, a belt clip, and another 10 dB, taking the volume up to 120 db.
It costs $39.99, and comes in black or green.
In case you aren't familiar with the decibel scale, 120 is 10 times louder than 110.
110 db is equivalent to sitting in the front row at a rock concert.
Is that loud enough for you?
[via Kevin Kelly/Cool Tools]