Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is it 2008 yet?

There's so much talk about who should run for president in 2008 (hint: Democrats, don't nominate Hillary. Republicans, don't nominate Cheney, Rove, or just about anyone from the current administration (Condi Rice might be an exception)). Both for 2008 and the upcoming midterm elections, the Democrats are busy making the same mistakes they made in 2004 (What's wrong with John Kerry? He's not Bush! Don't you like that about him?) while the Republicans are trying not to repeat the mistakes of Al Gore (who tried to distance himself from the scandals surrounding Clinton but wound up also distancing himself from the successes of that administration). Candidates for each party will inevitable focus on their base and ignore everybody else. I considered writing something on changing the primaries to run-off elections, then realized that I had already done that. Three more years of this? Gah!

Friends, Americans, Countrymen!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Alien Implant Technology Enters Commercial World

And they're using it to track patient medical data. Now, keep in mind, the RFIDs in this article are passive - they aren't constantly broadcasting your information (that's why they last indefinitely - no need for a battery). You need an RFID transceiver to read the device, and even then all you get is a number. That number means nothing unless you have access to a database. It's kind of like a cookie, with many of the same security concerns. If you can select what data to associate with your VeriChip's code, patients might elect to just include basic information like drug allergies and any special medical conditions like diabetes, hemophelia, or situs inversus.

Doctors and hospitals will love this technology. It will help reduce medical errors and make it faster and easier to collect patient information in an emergency. Patients may be harder to convince. But honestly, I think price is more likely to hold it back than privacy concerns or fear of technology. But that price will go down over time. Look for these little guys to be standard issue to hospital patients, including newborn babies, in 20 years. Little yellow bracelet? Meet subdermal computer chip.

A Generic Letter to My Doctors

Dear Doctor,

I have only two questions: Is it serious? And is it treatable? Understand that I come here as a last resort. I am here either because my internal and external sensors are insufficient to determine just how serious the problem is or my own efforts to treat the problem have not prevented it from getting worse. I prefer not to take medication, so please use the diagnostic tools at your disposal to find the source of my symptoms before handing me a prescription to cover them up. If I complain about pain, or any symptom, it means that I want to know the cause, not that I want a drug for it. If a test is not covered by insurance, tell me about it anyway so I can decide for myself whether it is worth the out-of-pocket expense. And while I respect that you spent a good deal of time and money going to medical school, please keep in mind that I have been living inside my body for quite a long time and have at least some idea of how it usually functions. Just because something is “unlikely” doesn’t mean it never happens. If you keep these things - but especially my two key questions - in mind, I think we can make this a productive visit.

Many thanks,


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Quote of the Day - March 14, 2006

Calvin: Mom, can I have a cigarette?
Calvin's Mom : Sure, Calvin. I think your grandfather left some here. Just smoke outside, okay?
Calvin : {wow!}
Hobbes : Your mom let you have a cigarette?
Calvin: For a mom, sometimes she's pretty cool. (inhales) Blaaugh! *gag* *hack* *cough*
Hobbes: You'd think this would be an easy habit to break.
Calvin's Mom: Well, now. Did we learn a little lesson today?
Calvin: *gasp* Yes. Trusting parents can be hazardous to your health.

You Know You're Spending Too Much Time in Front of the Computer When...

Your interpersonal skills get this bad.

Cat Herding

Find the Asymptote

Wait... I think we're getting there... d'oh!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Quote of the Day - March 13, 2006

My Mom: (after I complained that I never seem to score any points in my league games) Maybe you're tired.

Me: But it's two or three days between Monday night pratice and the league games.

My Mom: Not from basketball. From your job. You know, that thing you do on the side.

Prepare for Today's Emegency... Tomorrow

Severe weather is expected in this area late tonight and early tomorrow as the system that hit the midwest this weekend is expected to move across our area. This public information statement was at the bottom of my local forecast page on Weather Underground:

"Governor tim kaine has proclaimed tomorrow... Tuesday March 14 2006
as tornado preparedness day in the commonwealth of Virginia. At
945 am tomorrow... the National Weather Service will conduct a
statewide tornado drill. All National Weather Service offices
serving Virginia will issue drill tornado warnings at that time. The
purpose of this drill is to provide schools... businesses and
residents of the commonwealth with the opportunity to activate and
test their emergency plans for tornadoes. Should severe weather
threaten Virginia on March 14th... the tornado drill will be
postponed until 945 am Wednesday March 15th."

Now, is it just me, or should this drill have been held today? You know, before the storms are expected, to be sure that everything is working. I realize this is kind of an indirect way of getting people to prepare for the real storms since they have to check their equipment prior to the drill, but can't they just say "get ready for the storms"? Are people more likely to prepare for a drill than the real thing?

Google Mars

If you go to Google before the end of today (March 13, 2006), you will see that one of the O's in their logo has been replaced by Mars and the "g" has been replaced by Earth with a telescope on top. If you roll over the logo with your mouse, you will see the tag "Percival Lowell" appear after a second. Click on the logo. Ta-da! Google has created an interactive map of Mars that's even more complete than their map of the Moon. You can map all of the spacecraft that have landed (successfully or otherwise) on Mars, as well as many of the geographic features like Olympus Mons. (And yes, I already did a search for "face". You can't see the "Face on Mars" in the pictures that they have, but you can see the Happy Face Crater.) There are still a few glitches when zooming in and out, and the resolution varies depending on whether you're in elevation mode, visible mode, or infrared mode. Also, like Google Earth, the resolution is greater in certain areas than it is in others. For instance, there is much greater infrared resolution around the landing site for the Spirit Rover than, say, at the north pole. Enjoy!