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Grey Area

Writer Will Self puts head on the block: ‘Novelist Will Self is to lock himself in a one-bedroom flat on the 20th floor of a Liverpool tower block and allow the public to observe him while he writes a short novel…Self’s planned 12,000 word novel is part of a “reality art” project, sponsored by the Liverpool Housing Action Trust, to mark the passing of high-rise housing in the port city… The public will only be able to see the back of Self as he writes, but they will not be allowed to talk to him. As the story develops the author will post pages in an adjoining room to allow visitors to see how the novella is taking shape.’ Reuters

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Atomic-Scale Memory:

This has gotten alot of notice in the weblog universe. Scientists Develop Atomic-Scale Memory. Using silicon atoms to represent data 1’s and 0’s has provided data density 10^6 times that of a CD-ROM.

The new memory was constructed on a silicon surface that automatically forms furrows within which rows of silicon atoms are aligned and rest like tennis balls in a gutter. By lifting out single silicon atoms with the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, the Wisconsin team created gaps that represent the 0s of data storage while atoms left in place represent the 1s. Technology Review

Here

‘s some more detail, with pictures. The problem with this memory? It’s really slow, of course! So far…

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Little living car crash sculptures:


[CrashBonsai]

Thanks to boing boing for making sure we’d all know about this. CrashBonsai, a site from Boston artist John Rooney, sells smashed model cars with which you can adorn your bonsai trees to make “little living car crash sculptures”

“No passengers have been injured in CrashBonsai accidents, although some drivers have reported a brief, even euphoric loss of consciousness.”

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Reflex Patriotism:

I can’t say it better than Brooke at the bitter shackzilla has already done, responding to W’s proclaiming September 11th Patriot Day:

“The people who died in the World Trade Center did not die for their country. If anything, they died because of their country. They did not willingly lay down their lives for a cause, for God and a nation. They did not die chanting America the Beautiful. They died not knowing what the hell was going on. They died eating doughnuts and drinking coffee and shuffling papers and counting up profits and cleaning bathrooms and making meals. Some died thinking it was all just a terrible accident. Nothing about how these people died makes them patriots. But that does not make their deaths any less significant.

And, I would argue, nothing about my grief for their loss makes me a patriot, certainly not in the sense Bush is implying: That I am sad, and therefore I want open-ended revenge and I will call this reflex “patriotism” to make it sound better than what it is.

Just when you think Bush can’t stoop lower in exploiting tragedy for his own ends …

Besides, we in Massachusetts already have a ‘Patriot’s Day’.

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Steal This Music

Planet’s PDA enables CD shoppers to browse music:

“Net venture business Planet Co said Thursday it has developed a personal digital assistant (PDA) that enables customers to “browse through” or listen to the contents of music CDs simply by having the PDA sensor recognize the bar code attached to CD’s plastic cover.

Once a shopper brings the “HOTNAVI” PDA system close to the CD cover and lets it recognize the bar code, the music on that CD will be played back and radioed to the shopper via a headphone attached to the PDA, the company said.” Japan Today [via Declan McCullagh’s Politech]

The technology is easy. My guess is that they’ll probably stream the music to you wirelessly. It would have to be a local network; if it were just sent over the Internet you could give the machine whatever barcoding it needed to provide you with a given recording no matter where you were, even if you had to figure out a way to spoof the machine into thinking it were in the music store. But even if broadcast only locally within the confines of the store, it seems it would be difficult to prevent the digital cloning that’ll inevitably arise by clever users who circumvent whetever copy protection scheme they engineer into the PDA.. Perhaps they won’t provide the entire recording? Does anyone know more about how this scheme will really work? A Google search comes up with nothing further…

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"Imagine not being able to take off the goggles…"

The Sights and Sounds of Schizophrenia: ‘The textbook description of schizophrenia is a listing of symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior. But what does schizophrenia really feel like? NPR’s Joanne Silberner reports on a virtual reality experience that simulates common symptoms of the mental illness.’ NPR You can view a multimedia slideshow (requires Real Player) of highlights of one of Janssen Pharmaceutica’s simulations of a schizophrenic episode here


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‘Relational Disorders’:

Doctors Consider Diagnosis for ‘Ill’ Relationships: “Some of the nation’s top psychiatrists are advocating the creation of an entirely new category of mental illness that could profoundly alter the practice of psychiatry and result in tens of thousands of families being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

In a monograph being circulated by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the doctors recommend that a category called “Relational Disorders” be added to the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which is the psychiatric profession’s official guide for defining emotional and mental illnesses.” Washington Post [thanks, Norton] This is a perfect illustration of how diagnostic categories and, in fact, the very nature of diagnosis, have expanded and contracted to meet secondary agendas throughout the history of psychiatric classification. It will never fly, but it clearly represents a response to psychiatrists’ diminishing market share in mental health as well as an internal conceptual struggle between the biological and nonbiological schools of thought in the profession. The difference between identifying problematic relationships as causes of psychiatric difficulties and labelling the relationships themselves as psychopathology opens the door to pathologizing all sorts of social problems. However, there is another sense in which this is a valiant effort. Shifting insurance coverage and research protocols to diagnoses which reside in a relationshipo, or a system of people (e.g. a family system), as the family systems theorists have been doing for years, removes some of the stigma imposed on the ‘identified patient’ in the system. I’m looking forward to the debate.