Archive for March 2011 | Monthly archive page

Or “Female Character Flowchart.”   You have to click on the image to see the whole picture.

In the late ’90s, I worked on a film called “Infinity” with Matthew Broderick and Patricia Arquette and screenplay written by Matthew’s mother, Patricia Broderick.   The film was about the early years of physicist Richard Feynmann.   There were no bongos or womanizing in the film and it wasn’t until later that I discovered Feynmann was a bit of a rounder. I came across this flowchart recently and was amused all over again.

Mar 06

Ether Follies

I’ve never had surgery that required I be put under but one of my paranoid fears is that should I ever have to I’ll be one of those who seems unconscious and can’t move but is feeling and hearing everything. Kind of a horror story scenario. And, of course, they steal my thoughts too while I am incapacitated (the good ones that I don’t tell anyone) along with my PIN codes.

The New York Times has an interesting interview with Dr. Emery Neal Brown, a professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School entitled “Call It a Reversible Coma, Not Sleep.” One of the highlights on the original development of anaesthesia in 1846:

Apparently, there was a social practice in that era called “ether follies.” People got together and they sniffed ether. At one of these, someone fell and cut himself, but felt no pain. And the story got out, which led a Boston dentist to start experimenting with ether for painless oral surgery. He brought the idea to the great surgeon John Collins Warren, and together they used it in an operation here to remove a neck tumor. “Gentlemen, this is no humbug,” Dr. Warren declared after the successful procedure, meaning that this was the real thing and that it was going to change medicine. Before that, surgery was mostly butchery. The most successful surgeon was the one who could lop off a limb quickest. To this day, most inhaled anesthetics are ether. They’ve been embellished a bit, but they are basically ether.

I got a Magnetic Poetry Kit as a Secret Santa gift once.   I put the words on my office door and the bored kids in the office were always trying to come up with the dirtiest poems the words would allow.    

Yesterday, I saw “I Love My Union Thug” mugs online.   I guess we’re meant to think buying one is support of the Wisconsin workers but they are sold by an private company selling I Heart [fill in the blank] everything and a bunch of St. Patrick’s paraphernalia.    There’s always money to be made off the latest trend, trainwreck or tragedy.    …Although, I must admit I would have traded my poetry kit for the Charlie Sheen Edition if I could.

A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with a mathematician I know and he was talking about his struggles to work out citizenship in the US because his home country of Germany forbids dual citizenship unless a very strict level of hardship can be proven. However, his lawyer said that because he could not receive things such as NSA grants without US citizenship and not being able to receive such things would be considered a legitimate hardship, the German government might make an exception. At the time of this conversation, I flashed on Good Will Hunting, recalling the scene in which Will turns down a seemingly super-sexy, exclusive and lucrative offer from the NSA because of all the terrible intended/unintended consequences his work would likely produce.

Today, just by chance, I came across this Kurt Vonnegut interview discussing Cat’s Cradle and the lack of conscience scientists often display in their blind pursuit of scientific or mathematical truths and their blithe indifference as to who will use their work and how. Vonnegut, who learned this the hard way between the nuclear bomb and a tenure at GE, was so articulate on this so far ahead of everyone else.  It’s a bit of a raw piece of video so beware: