The Real Meaning of Embedded

 Posted by on 16 May 2009 at 6:01 am  Fun
May 162009

This is mind-blowingly clever:

Noteboek from Evelien Lohbeck on Vimeo.

Here’s another insanely creative video:

It’s no use attempting to describe these short films. They simply must be watched!

Name Anagrams

 Posted by on 4 May 2009 at 2:14 pm  Fun
May 042009

I’ve never checked the anagrams for my name before. But thanks to the internet anagram server, I found this gem for Diana Hsieh:

ha ha die sin

Yeah! Die sin die! I laugh as you die!

The Tweenbot Principle

 Posted by on 22 April 2009 at 11:01 am  Fun, Psychology
Apr 222009

Here’s another example of what I’ll call “the Tweenbot principle” in action:

The onlookers are downright thrilled to witness this unexpected, engaging, and benevolent performance — and rightly so. As I said about the Tweenbots:

… many people are eager for some fresh novelty in their lives. They want to experience interesting things outside the ordinary humdrum of their daily tasks. To a benevolent person, such experiences brighten the mood. They make a day particularly memorable and pleasant. They highlight the simple joys of being a human creature living in a hospitable world.

I need to encapsulate the basic idea here into a single, brief sentence. Any suggestions?

(Via Richard Bramwell.)


 Posted by on 16 April 2009 at 11:01 pm  Ethics, Fun, Psychology
Apr 162009

Via Flibbertigibbet and The Crucible, I recently discovered the fabulous little experiment of the the tweenbots. Here’s the basic idea, as described by its creator, Kacie Kinzer:

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Given their extreme vulnerability, the vastness of city space, the dangers posed by traffic, suspicion of terrorism, and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination. Because I built them with minimal technology, I had no way of tracking the Tweenbot’s progress, and so I set out on the first test with a video camera hidden in my purse. I placed the Tweenbot down on the sidewalk, and walked far enough away that I would not be observed as the Tweenbot–a smiling 10-inch tall cardboard missionary–bumped along towards his inevitable fate.

The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, “You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

The actual robots are quite adorable, so I definitely recommend checking out the pictures on the web site.

Regarding the significance of the experiment, Kendall writes:

There is an idea that I’ve heard repeated at various times in my life, that there is not enough charitable feeling in naturally “self-centered” man to be of meaningful help to those in need. When I respond that there is ample benevolence in man, and in a capitalist society, ample surplus of productive resource (time, money, etc) that we should not make it a forced duty to be charitable, but rather allow man’s natural benevolence to take its course, most people tell me that resources have to be aggregated and centrally directed to be effective.

Kendall then observes that the tweenbot experiment shows the dismal view of man to be false. He’s right.

I’d say something in addition, however. As Flibby’s own hope to see a tweenbot illustrates, many people are eager for some fresh novelty in their lives. They want to experience interesting things outside the ordinary humdrum of their daily tasks. To a benevolent person, such experiences brighten the mood. They make a day particularly memorable and pleasant. They highlight the simple joys of being a human creature living in a hospitable world.

Many such experiences are mere happenstance — yet a person can also seek them out for himself. He can visit places he’s never seen, attend to the small features of his surroundings, and pause to consider bright spots therein. The happy little tweenbots offer much reward to people who do that. So to offer the tweenbots a little help in return seems like a very reasonable trade.

How Many People Have My Name?

 Posted by on 24 March 2009 at 2:27 pm  Fun
Mar 242009
Logo There are
people with the name “Diana Hsieh” in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

About “Diana”:

  • There are 330,501 people in the U.S. with the first name Diana.
  • Statistically the 188th most popular first name.

About “Hsieh”:

  • There are 3,274 people in the U.S. with the last name Hsieh.
  • Statistically the 10133rd most popular last name.

But perhaps I should have kept my maiden name, because here’s the results for “Diana Brickell”:
Logo There is
person with the name “Diana Brickell” in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

About “Brickell”:

  • There are 918 people in the U.S. with the last name Brickell.
  • Statistically the 29402nd most popular last name.

(Via Rational Jenn.)

Today’s X-Ray

 Posted by on 11 March 2009 at 11:33 am  Fun, Health Care
Mar 112009

History: Leg Pain

Yeah, I bet his leg is a little uncomfortable!

X-Ray Answer

 Posted by on 18 February 2009 at 11:01 am  Fun, Health Care
Feb 182009

The patient’s heart has been removed!

He is a heart transplant patient about to receive his new heart, and of course the surgeons had to remove his old failing heart first. The film was taken after his native heart had been removed but before the transplanted new heart was placed. Again, here is the abnormal film and a comparison normal film.



When I’ve shown the abnormal film to medical students, they usually know that something is amiss, but they can’t quite put their finger on what’s wrong.

Many med students learning introductory radiology find it much harder to recognize the absence of a normal structure than to recognize the presence of an abnormal structure. Or as one of my former professors used to put it, “The hardest thing to see is something that isn’t there.”

This principle is not unique to medicine, of course. For instance, the “dog that didn’t bark” (when it should have) was the key to a Sherlock Holmes mystery story.

And part of radiology residency training is to develop the appropriate mental checklists so that when one analyzing any radiology exam (ranging from a chest x-ray to a brain MRI scan), one is methodically looking both for “things that should be here but aren’t” as well as “things that shouldn’t be there but are”.

A few comments on some secondary findings:

The lungs are “dirtier” than usual (i.e., with more white), because of fluid build-up from his prior congestive heart failure. There are also various life-support lines and tubes that project over different portions of his chest. The dark vertical stripe in the midline is the incision used to remove the heart.

Today’s X-Ray

 Posted by on 17 February 2009 at 1:00 pm  Fun, Health Care
Feb 172009

Today’s x-ray is from a 55-year old man. The film was taken in the operating room (“OR 3″). Notice anything interesting?

(Answer tomorrow.)

X-Ray Answer

 Posted by on 13 February 2009 at 12:33 pm  Fun, Health Care
Feb 132009

This woman has a completely collapsed left lung. That’s why the left chest cavity is completely black. In contrast, the still-normal right lung shows the fine branching blood vessels emanating from the heart.

The white glob of tissue adjacent to the left side of her heart is her collapsed left lung plastered up against the left-sided heart border.

Here is a normal chest x-ray for comparison:

This is a severe case of spontaneous pneumothorax, much more severe than this one from three months ago.

The last I had heard, she was appropriately treated and doing well.

The slight difference in the height of the two sides of her diaphragm are within normal variation.

The apparent scoliosis of the spine is not real. Instead, I think folks are looking at the air-filled trachea (windpipe) which takes a slight normal curve to the right as it moves past the aorta. The trachea is slightly darker vertical stripe which then branches into the two separate “mainstem bronchi” — one for each lung.

Today’s X-Ray Case

 Posted by on 12 February 2009 at 12:27 pm  Fun, Health Care
Feb 122009

Another walk-in case from our routine practice: 30-year old woman with chest pain and shortness of breath. (Click on image to see it full-size.)

As usual, her left side is on the image right (marked with the “L”). Her right side is on the image left.

Answer tomorrow.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha