Three things to read to pass the time: Dilbert, Bush and Lost

A lot of people use the internet to kill time at work.  Not I of course, I'm always hard at work selling phones to the people who need the cellular.  But I do know of other people, such as my girlfriend Lydia, who require some reading to help pass the time while at work.  So in honour of those of you who are looking to knock a little bit off their work day here are three things worth reading about on the web today.

1) Scott Adams overcomes Spasmodic Dysphonia [db]:

Best known as the creator of the character Dilbert Scott Adams is a fairly funny humourist and seemingly a nice guy.  I was surprised to hear that he had a rare speech problem called Spasmodic Dyphonia that affects a part of the brain and prevents him from speaking properly.

Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor – a specialist for this condition – how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero. While there’s no cure, painful Botox injections through the front of the neck and into the vocal cords can stop the spasms for a few months. That weakens the muscles that otherwise spasm, but your voice is breathy and weak.

The odd thing was that the disorder allowed him to do some kind of speaking, such as public speaking in front of large crowds, and not others such as regular talking.  Told that there was no cure he set about trying to figure out a way to overcome his affliction and eventually did this October [db] by trying to rhyme.  Since then his speech seems to have almost returned to normal.

The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned.

Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night. And so I talked that night. A lot. And all the next day. A few times I felt my voice slipping away, so I repeated the nursery rhyme and tuned it back in. By the following night my voice was almost completely normal.

It's a story worth checking out on his blog, as are the many, many comments [db]. 

2) US Mid-term election coverage from across the pond [guk]:

The Guardian's Simon Jenkins has a really interesting article up about the recent mid-term elections in the United States.  Seeing the election of Democrates to power in both houses of government he sees the results as the "It is a good day for level-headed Americans."  Still despite the results he saw the recent election as the most divisive in memory.

I have watched many American elections, but still find myself shocked by candidates accusing each other in public and on television of corruption, homosexuality, lying, surrendering to terror, killing babies, favouring torture, associating with hoodlums and consorting with prostitutes. My favourites this time were "Brad Miller pays for sex but not for body armour for our troops" and, most savage of all, "Michael Steele loves George Bush". Achieving office in Britain is a stroll in the country. In America the participant must carry the one true ring to the land of Mordor. The game goes only to the strong.

3) Wizard Magazine's review of the latest episode of Lost [wu]:

If you're not deep into the horribly confounding world of Lost then this might be the one recomendation that you might want to skip.  However Wizard has been doing a day after review of the show for this season, and it's helpful to keep track of what everything means.  Or might mean since nothing is clear.  If you haven't seen the episode yet you don't want to read it, but if you have it's a good crib sheet.

Sean: “I thought the writers laid it on a little thick during the ceremony. The priest says that one of the first things that struck him about ‘Monica’ was her honesty. How the hell would that work, anyway? Did he ask her if his robe made him look fat and she said, ‘Well, to be honest, yeah’? Not to mention the ‘what you see is what you get’ line. Dun-dun-DUNNNN!

Justin: “The only thing more obvious were those ‘please murder him’ looks Juliet kept shooting Jack during the operation sequence.”

The selections I took from the articles don't spoil them.  If you're wanting to kill sometime, then head over and check these three suggestions out.