50 Fun Things To Do With Your iPod

Sorry, but as an inveterate Palm and iPod user I find virtually nothing appealing on kottke’s list. An iPod makes a lousy information appliance, and a PDA is, compared to my iPod, a lousy mp3 player. Many of these suggestions thus end up being downright silly, and the potentially useful information-access exploits are handled far far better on my PDA and thus to utilize my iPod in these ways becomes an intolerable compromise when no compromise is needed. Until I can get one data-access appliance that does everything my Palm Tungsten does and more and has at least a 40-80 Gb micro-drive and a music player interface and performance at least as good as my iPod, I have no qualms about carrying around two four* small appliances. Besides, how much worse (oh, around twice as bad?) you would feel, if it were all in one package and you lost it, than if you just lost your iPod or your PDA?

*Let’s not forget about my cellphone and digital pocket camera, another two devices for which one will not do. And, hey, while we’re at it, there’s also my GPS.

Buchanan sees ‘war’ within conservatism

“Pat Buchanan speaks of American conservatism in the past tense. ‘The conservative movement has passed into history,’ (he says).” (Washington Times) Great lead sentence. However, I don’t think people should take heart, because what, in Robertson’s term, passes for conservatism these days has an unprecedented stranglehold on American political theater these days, even if Buchanan’s wing is going to fade out of the picture. And if you had any doubts about that, wait and see who is left standing tomorrow after the shootout over the filibuster.

Educational Failures Well Before Kindergarten??

Youngest Students Most Likely to Be Expelled: “Preschools are expelling youngsters at three times the rate of public schools, according to a nationwide study by Yale researchers, prompting concerns that children are being set up for educational failure at a very young age.” (Washington Post)

I thought, facetiously, to headline this post with something about how they had finally started to deal with the true juvenile delinquents, or something like that. But this is nothing to laugh about, and is an indication of the extent of the failure in our early education system rather than the fault of the children, of course. While it has been recognized that early group daycare and preschool help socialize children, the corollary is that entering preschoolers are still essentially unsocialized. You don’t expel them for their behavior, you teach them, competently, to behave differently. (We sometimes make the same mistake in my field, the treatment of the acutely mentally ill — demanding they change some troublesome behavioral symptom before we can treat them rather than remembering we must treat their illness before their behavior can change.)

If we are going to place more and more children sooner and sooner in childcare situations so their parent or parents can continue to work fulltime (to earn the money to afford childcare…), careers in early childhood education have to be socially valued, encouraged and supported rather than remaining a marginal afterthought. No disrespect, by the way, intended to the daycare workers and preschool teachers, who are usually dedicated and heroic and always undercompensated for what they do.

Silent ‘Piano Man’ whose only language is music

//news.ninemsn.com.au/img/world/1705_pianoman_a.jpg' cannot be displayed]From The Independent, this fascinating story of a man in his 20’s or 30’s found five weeks ago in dripping wet evening wear from which all the labels had been removed wandering near the Kentish seashore. Psychiatrically hospitalized, he has not said a word since and cowers in fright upon anyone’s approach. Left with pencil and paper, he produced a detailed sketch of a grand piano and, given access to a piano, he has played exquisitely for hours on end, including long pieces that appear to be his own compositions.

‘An unconfirmed report has it that he played a “beautiful” performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

A spokeswoman for the West Kent NHS Trust said, “There was nobody he was with skilled enough to recognize the music, they just knew it was classical music and he played very well.” ‘

It is not clear whether he understands English, and he has not responded to entreaties in various Eastern European languages. Ironically, even though his caregivers have noted that “if you put him in front of a piano, his whole demeanour changes. He completely relaxes and is oblivious to people around him,” he has been moved to a different ward where there is no piano. He avoids television and radio and continues to produce his sketches of grand pianos. There has been an overwhelming response (BBC )to publication of his picture with requests for assistance from anyone who could identify him. However, curiously, his caregivers say they have not had the time to follow up on the most promising leads, and that they are not sure they will ever know who he really is. What’s up with that??

A number of theories about who is is, how he came to be found, and the nature of his distress are discussed in the article. He is such an enigma that the assumptions of those speculating about him may at this stage say more about them than about him. The extent of his fright and silence suggests traumatic amnesia to some, but I wonder about acute paranoia as well. The detail about his avoidance of t.v.’s and radios is something I have often seen in patients who are suffering an acute paranoid psychotic episode, who may feel that they are receiving messages through the media or that the devices can pick up and broadcast their thoughts. Of course, they don’t tell you that at the time; all you notice is that they avoid the media. Elective muteness is seen in acute psychosis as well, and I consider the deliberate obliteration of evidence of his identity (such as the removal of his clothing labels) more characteristic of a psychotic break than a post-traumatic condition. Several outlandish theories as to how he came to be in the ocean — e.g. that he was an asylum-seeker dropped off near the shore — are discussed, but without mention of the obvious possibility that he had attempted to kill himself by drowning. I hope those caring for him have also considered the possibility that his mutism, his possible amnesia, his acute fearfulness, his wandering, etc. are sequelae of a neurological rather than a psychological condition. I have at least one neurologist reader of FmH; I wonder what he thinks of the case. There are some conditions that would affect the so-called ‘speech centers’ of the brain but leave musical expression intact. A neurological workup would require procedures he may yet be too frightened to undergo, such as cerebral imaging studies and bloodwork.

We are hearing from his social worker and other ward staff; has his attending psychiatrist made any public statements? And why in the world don’t they (a) continue to facilitate his access to a piano; (b) bring in some people who know music better; and (c) get on the stick following up on those leads about who he is?

‘Confuzzled?’ You must be a ‘lingweenie.’

“The response from the ‘vocabularians’ was so ‘ginormous’ that the lexicographers let out a ‘whoot.’

…The editors of Merriam-Webster dictionaries got more than 3,000 entries when, in a lighthearted moment, they asked visitors to their Web site to submit their favorite words that aren’t in the dictionary.

…Some of the proposed words even gained multiple submissions so the editors came up with an unofficial Top 10 list.

First place went to ‘ginormous’ — bigger than gigantic and bigger than enormous — followed by ‘confuzzled’ for confused and puzzled simultaneously, and ‘whoot,’ an exclamation of joy. A ‘lingweenie’ — a person incapable of making up new words — placed 10th.” (Yahoo! News)

Let’s get serious. ‘Lingweenie’ is far more clever than the other examples, involving a double entendre as it does. IMHO, neither ‘ginormous‘, ‘confuzzled’, or ‘whoot’ really adds anything to the lexicon, since — duh — conveying that something is bigger than ‘gigantic’ means it is also inevitably bigger than ‘enormous’; usually, someone who is confused may be said to be puzzled too; and most joyful exclamations are both somewhat whoop- and hoot-like. Lingweenies indeed; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to just conflate two synonyms… which is why, I guess, these words are not only not in the dictionary but probably will never be. I have never heard any of these terms used in conversation either — have you?That is possibly because I don’t hang with the right crowd, but I do hear my children and their peers do use ‘bazillion’ and ‘gazillion’, I’ll grant you that. You want neologisms by the bazillion, most of which are similarly destined for obscurity? See here.

I have seen far more clever word coinage compilations in The Atlantic‘s language columns in years past, BTW.

On a related topic, I heard an attorney interviewed on a radio broadcast today refer to her client, whom she felt had been unjustly accused, as an ‘escape goat’, and it didn’t sound as if she was deliberately trying to be clever. It really is a ‘doggy dog world’ out there for legal practitioners these days, isn’t it?

‘3rd Most Dangerous Volcano in the US’

“Scientists know Mount Rainier will eventually awaken as Mount St. Helens did in 1980. It could gradually build up and explode, or part of it may collapse. It could happen in 200 years, or it could happen tonight.

‘People get burned by these kind of events because they think it can’t happen in their lifetime,’ said Willie Scott of the

U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency ranks Mount Rainier as the third most dangerous volcano in the nation, after Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island and Mount St. Helens. Both are currently active.

Other studies call Rainier the most dangerous volcano in the world — not just for its explosive potential, but because of the 3 million people who live in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area. At least 100,000 people live on top of Rainier mudflows that have solidified.” (Yahoo! News)