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April 5, 2005

'Love as a mental illness'


So reads the subtitle of psychologist Frank Tallis's new book, "Love Sick."

More: "We are afflicted rather than affected by love."

I'll drink to that.

And have, more than once, but that's another story, for another time.

Daniel Swift, reviewing the book in Sunday's New York Times Book Review, wrote, "our genes are hard-wired to follow slavishly the dictates of natural selection, but our societies and and our bodies would become exhausted if we followed them into ceaseless childbearing and raising."

Tallis writes, "However, the very fact that we can self-reflect, and rebel, has perhaps necessitated the evolution of a safety mechanism. We call this safety mechanism 'love.'"

Swift wrote that Tallis believes that the great unspoken fear that dating and relationship manuals seek to assuage is the fear of abandonment and humiliation: "of being stood up at a bar or at the alter."

Tallis believes this is wrongheaded and writes, "To be romantically involved is an admission that carries a host of implications: passion, folly, obsession, anguish, recklessness, intrigue and adventure."

By necessity, love — and fear — enter at the same door.


The book is $10.85 at amazon, if you want — or need — more.

[via Daniel Swift and the New York Times Book Review]

April 5, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pie Keeper™


"The last slice of pie is as tasty as the first!"

I can see that this would be the case if you had this ingenious creation.

I don't know about you but as for me when I'm alone with a pie that's already been cut into, I tend to cut off a thin exposed edge and discard it before taking my piece.

Of course, you can't do this if anyone else is around.

Someone obviously thought about this problem, but instead of shrugging did something about it.

And just as the invention of the wheel followed just that sort of unique response to a problem, so with the Pie Keeper™.

"Seals in flavor and freshness and prevents fruit fillings from leaking out."


"Easily adjusts to fit your 9"-10" pie, no matter how many pieces are left."

That last piece, sitting there all by its lonesome, will no longer have that slightly aired-out look and taste if you're fortunate enough to have employed one of these nifty gadgets.

Originally $4.95, but now priced to move fast at $3.95 here.

April 5, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: RoboDoc to make anesthesiologists obsolete



Should I begin retraining for a new career now or do you think I'm being just a little teeny bit too alarmist?

I read yesterday in the Washington Post that SRI International, of Menlo Park, California, has just been awarded a two-year, $12 million contract from DARPA to develop a robotic surgical system that would let doctors in a remote location operate on a wounded soldier on the battlefield .

Roseanne Gerin wrote in the Post, "The automated medical treatment system, which would not require on-site medical personnel, could be on the battlefield in 10 to 15 years, said John Bashkin, a director of business development at SRI."

The unmanned operating bays would be known as "trauma pods."

Gerin wrote, "For the trauma pod to be effective, reseachers... need to automate surgical processes such as administering anesthesia or inserting an IV."

Hey, SRI folks, guess what?

That's only the easy part.

What about making sure the IV stays in while the soldier's thrashing around in pain?

Considering that I still sometimes can't get an IV in after putting in many thousands, I'd say SRI has plenty on its plate.

And giving anesthesia?


I won't even go there.

Still, just to be on the safe side maybe I should hedge my bet just a smidge and look into this blogging stuff I've heard about.

Here's the Washington Post story.

    SRI to Develop Robotics for Battlefield Medical Care

    Call it Robodoc.

    SRI International Inc. won a two-year, $12 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a robotic surgical system that would let doctors operate on a wounded soldier on the battlefield from a remote location.


    The automated medical treatment system, which would not require on-site medical personnel, could be on the battlefield in 10 to 15 years, said John Bashkin, a director of business development at SRI of Menlo Park, Calif.

    Members of SRI's team for the project include General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church and the University of Maryland's medical system in Baltimore.

    The robot would not perform surgery on its own, but it would carry out the commands of a surgeon controlling the process.

    The doctor, receiving a video feed from the robot, would use a system of surgical manipulators to perform the operation.

    As he moved his hands in the manipulators, his actions and voice commands would be communicated wirelessly to the automated system, which would replicate his actions.

    The doctor, for example, could say that he needed a piece of gauze.

    One of the robot's arms would go to a parts dispenser to retrieve the gauze while the other arm would continue performing the surgery, Bashkin said.

    The unmanned medical treatment systems, known as trauma pods, would be used to stabilize the conditions of injured soldiers within minutes after a casualty.

    It would administer life-saving medical and surgical care before evacuating troops and during their transport.

    Telerobotic surgical systems have been around for a couple of decades, and DARPA and the Pentagon funded related projects at SRI in the 1980s and early 1990s, Bashkin said.

    The early systems were bulky, however, and had limited automation capabilities and could not be operated through a wireless connection.

    "So now we're going to be pushing the telemedicine aspects more and developing a lot of automation around those types of surgical systems to do all the functions you find in an operating room like scrub nurse and anesthesiologist," Bashkin said.

    SRI and a consortium of other organizations will build on the core of the da Vinci robotic surgical system, used in hospitals for minimally invasive surgery.

    Intuitive Surgical Inc., an SRI spin-off company, developed and commercialized the technology to allow doctors to perform robotically aided operations from a remote console.

    There are about 300 installations in hospitals around the world today, Bashkin said.

    "Once we get through this demonstration phase, then we're really going to have to rethink everything from the beginning because we're going to have to be concerned with miniaturizing the entire system," he said.

    For the trauma pod to be effective, researchers must address problems such as communication delays between the doctor and the trauma pod in the field.

    They also need to automate surgical processes such as administering anesthesia or inserting an IV.

    Another challenge is coordinating the robotic automation and the surgical system so that different parts of the pod do not run into each other or the patient, Bashkin said.

    DARPA is the central research and development branch of the Defense Department.


    It is funding the trauma pod program through the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, a unit of the U.S. Army Research and Materiel Command.

    SRI is a research and development institute that conducts contract research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, foundations and other organizations.

    The company employs about 2,000 people worldwide and had 2004 revenue of $257 million, SRI officials said.

April 5, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's First All-Terrain Bed


From Aero comes the Sport All-Terrain Bed.

Inflates automatically in less than a minute and deflates in 15 seconds if for some reason (bear issues, etc.) you're forced to strike camp in a hurry.

It lifts sleepers 10 inches off the ground so the leeches and creepy-crawlies can't get at you — at least not without encountering the leech equivalent of altitude sickness.

You recharge the pump by plugging it into an automobile lighter socket.

Twin size is $59.99 and the queen runs $85.04 here.

I just had a look over at amazon's reviews of Aero's beds: they're very positive.

April 5, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Artkrush — Free art magazine via email


From the folks who brought you Flavorpill comes this new biweekly (that means every two weeks; "semi" means every half whatever. I like the mnemonic of "semicircle": half a circle = half of whatever. But I digress) virtual art magazine.

Issue #1 came out on March 9, Issue #2 (March 23) is up now.

"Formerly a web-based art magazine and virtual gallery, Artkrush has relaunched as a bimonthly email magazine, featuring current news, links, people and events in the international art community."

It's got artist profiles, reviews of new shows, and all manner of gallery buzz.

You just sign up here and every two weeks a new issue appears in your mailbox.

Print it out, read it online, whatever suits your fantasy. I mean fancy.

Links to artists, museums and events around the world will keep you nicely occupied while you're supposed to be working.

Did I say that?

My bad.

So far the only email magazine I subscribe to is Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools.

[via Greg Zinman and the Washington Post]

April 5, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Timer Necklace


I rather like the simplicity and neon yellow/black color scheme of this 60-minute timer.

It dangles from a 36" black cord around your neck.

Or you can stick its magnetic back to any ferrous metal surface.

Originally $9.95; now $7.95 here.

April 5, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hacker Academy


Intense School, a Fort Lauderdale-based computer education company, is setting up a branch in Washington, D.C. devoted to "ethical hacking" training.

For more than two years the company has been offering weeklong "hacker boot camps" in the D.C. area once a month.

The classes, which cost $2,500 for the week, are usually filled to capacity, with demand for the training highest among employees of government agencies and the government contractor community.

With the new permanent outpost the school will double its boot camp schedule and add mini-courses on specific topics, such as hacking into wireless networks.


Barry Kaufman, quoted in Ellen McCarthy's "The Download" column in last Thursday's Washington Post, said, "If you don't have the skills to hack yourself, then somebody else is going to do it for you. The idea is to enable the right people... with the capability of at least knowing what the enemy looks like and what he's going to do."

April 5, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Amy Sacks – Sensational eyewear


I happened on this company via their New Yorker ad.

What a superb website.


It reflects the company's philosophy regarding the glasses and related items it sells, to wit: "simplicity and clean design."

Have a look around and see what I mean.


They sell women's and men's reading glasses, reading sunglasses, sunglasses and accessories.

Considering that the pot metal dreck from MagnaVision you find in drugstores and grocery stores run $20-$25 a pair, and that custom eyewear at an optometrist's shop can cost $800, Amy Sacks's stylish offerings for $85-$125 seem quite reasonable.


If you can't decide what style and color looks best on you, no problema: just fill out this online form and their stylists will do their darndest to select just the right pair for you.

Very cool.


If I buy from them, I'm going to pick what I think is best for me and then fill out their questionnaire and see which they choose.

Most interested will I be to see if their "four creative people, all eyewear and accessory aficionados," choose with their "earnestness and impressive combined experience" precisely the same style and color I selected for myself.


If they do, I may apply for a job.

April 5, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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