“The man with a hole in his brain”

news @ nature.com – The man with a hole in his brain – Scans reveal a fluid-filled cavity in the brain of a normal man.

The article suggests this is rare and unheard of, but this is exactly what my Dad had.  Right down to the tiny bit of brain left around the edge of his skull by the time they got around to inventing CAT scans and doing one on him.  He died when I was a young adult, of an unrelated medical condition (lung embolism).  The hydrocephaly affected his motor skills, and his mental state resembled senility — if you talked to him for an hour you might notice nothing out of the ordinary, except for his inability to walk far without falling down, but if you checked thoroughly you might find he was misremembering things, or didn’t really have an accurate grasp of what was going on, didn’t realize the extent of his own impairment, and that he made irrational, impulsive decisions like buying things advertised on infomercials that he couldn’t pay for.

Once he got an accurate diagnosis a shunt was put in; it relieved the symptoms somewhat but he never got anywhere near normal.

This guy sounds like he was just in a less advanced stage of the same thing; I hope they caught it early enough for the shunt to have a really salutary effect.

FBI Investigates Man For Reading Left-Wing Article In Public


Trippi’s partner speaks up: “Any reading material? Papers?” I don’t think so. Then Trippi decides to level with me: “I’ll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that’s why we’re here, just checking it out. Like I said, there’s no problem. We’d just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can’t, then you may have a problem. And you don’t want that.”

You don’t want that? Have I just been threatened by the FBI? Confusion and a light dusting of panic conspire to keep me speechless. Was I reading something that morning? Something that would constitute a problem?

The partner speaks up again: “Maybe a printout of some kind?”

Then it occurs to me: I was reading. It was an article my dad had printed off the Web. I remember carrying it into Caribou with me, reading it in line, and then while stirring cream into my coffee. I remember bringing it with me to the store, finishing it before we opened. I can’t remember what the article was about, but I’m sure it was some kind of left-wing editorial, the kind that never fails to incite me to anger and despair over the state of the country.

I tell them all this, but they want specifics: the title of the article, the author, some kind of synopsis, but I can’t help them — I read so much of this stuff.

“Do you still have the article?” Probably not, but I suggest we check behind the counter. When that doesn’t pan out, I have the bright idea to call my dad at work, see if he can remember. Of course, he can’t put together a coherent sentence after I tell him the FBI are at the store, questioning me.

Thank you very much, John Doe.

Hope Ms. Malkin is proud!  Her little do-bees are saving America from dissent terrorism.

US Primaries 2007 Plotted On The Political Compass

US Primaries 2007

Please keep in mind that The Political Compass is a universal tool, reflecting the full spectrum of political thought, and applicable to all democracies. US politics are generally fought within a more confined space. While in mainstream America, Clinton, for example, may be seen as left leaning, in the overall political landscape, she is a moderate conservative. Someone like Kucinich, while seen by his severest opponents as an extreme left winger, would qualify as a typical social democrat in a European context.

For the record, I’m way more liberal — and libertarian — than any of them:

Chinese Flip Flops Will Sear The Skin Off Your Feet

Dangerous Defects: Woman Receives Severe Chemical Burns From Flip Flops, Walmart Tells Her To Complain To Manufacturer – Consumerist:

One more terrifying thing China has shipped to America. As yet unconfirmed but the photos are horrifying.

From an article from May in the Washington Post:

Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.

Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.

Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.

Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught — many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Why do we allow them to import anything at all into our nation? While our own industries languish and our economy limps along (although I understand that the owners of places like Wal-Mart are doing OK…)?

And to placate us, that bastion of human rights and due process executes its FDA chief. Cause yeah, I’m sure it was just that guy that was the problem.

Worst. Blogosphere clichés. EVAR.

Bad Lingo: Blog-Media Clich̩s РGawker:

Quick reference card-style summary:

  • Best ___ Ev[e|a]r.
  • ____, not so much.
  • (various ZOMGish abbreviations)
  • “I just threw up a little in my mouth”
  • ____, yo.
  • ____. Oy.
  • ____. Seriously? Seriously?
  • What’s next? _____?
  • I’m looking at you, ____.
  • Um, ____?
  • ____, wait for it, ____.
  • ____ made my ____ bleed.
  • ____-y goodness.
  • ____-gasm.
  • ____ is the new ____.

I’m curious where some of these come from. The “___, not so much” I remember hearing first many years ago in, of all places, a Gilbert Gottfried routine. “Worst __ ever” is of course Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Simpsons is the origin of the ___y goodness one either, and maybe some more. I seem to remember “wait for it” from Monty Python. Some of course are too trivial to trace to a particular locus.

There’s cliché and there’s slang, of course. They’re not the same thing. When you use a cliché you are saying something unoriginal where something original might be expected. When you use slang, you are saying something unoriginal purposefully. Slang to one person might be cliché to the next. There’s also purposeful ironic appropriation of slang, which when done too often becomes cliché…

There’s a lot of nuance to the phenomenon of repeated bits of purported cleverness….yo.