The Doctor Will See You Now
For those who don't have the time or inclination for face-to-face psychotherapy, e-therapy is a promising alternative. Just as phoning one's therapist has become common, so too has trading e-mails. The earliest form of online therapy may have been Ask Uncle Ezra, Cornell University's 15-year-old automated mental health site, where questions are answered by university specialists. Now you can also communicate with a therapist through simultaneous chat, instant messaging or video. Based in Rome, www.psychoinside.it offers Italian speakers links and information as well as online therapy. Interapy is a Dutch-language Amsterdam University program set up to assess the online treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Samaritans offer English speakers all over the world free e-mail counseling; contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All therapists online or off should be sought with care, however. The International Society for Mental Health Online and the British Psychological Society have suggested guidelines that anyone interested in e-therapy can use as a benchmark.
Excuse Me While I Kiss this Guy...
You know that part in U2's [She Moves in] Mysterious Ways where Bono starts singing about "Shamu the Mysterious Whale" and ... Wait a minute! Chalk up another entry on KissThisGuy.com(as in Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze lyric "kiss the sky"), the archive of misheard, misunderstood and mangled song lyrics. Perplexed by the Ramones' "I want a piece of date bread"? What they really sang was "I wanna be sedated." If this doesn't change the way you hear music, then "the ants are my friends is blowin' in the wind."
Heard the one about the comedy website that actually makes you giggle? Surf on over to Jester: The Online Joke Recommender at shadow.ieor.berkeley.edu/humor. The site combines sophisticated statistical analysis with a database of rib ticklers. After homing in on your sense of humor through a series of test jokes How many men does it take to screw in a light bulb? (Answer: er ... better go to the Jester website; this is a family magazine) it serves up jokes especially tailored to fit your funny bone.
Seeing in Tongues
Blind people may one day be able to read computer screens and recognize faces with their tongues thanks to a device developed at the University of Strasbourg. The Tactile Vision Substitution System (TVSS), a 3-sq cm pad that rests on the tongue, translates images from a digital camera into electrical stimulation, which forms patterns on the tongue corresponding to the shape of the image. The team wants to implant the tvss in a dental retainer that sends signals to a digital camera mounted on a pair of glasses.
Look and Learn
Does money make the world go round? Should we cross an antelope with a cheetah? For a couple of weeks you can get the answers free straight from some of the top brains in history, science, math, philosophy and more. Britain's Boxmindis putting leading lecturers online, with webcasts, slides, synchronized transcripts and links. You can follow in your own time or break off to pursue a line of thought. From the end of March the lectures will only be available as part of an e-lecture library on sale to educational institutions. You can also search the site by subject for selected academic resources on the Web.
Last week Parisian designer Elisabeth de Senneville showed off the first jackets to have protection against cell phone radiation woven in. Costumes that change color in response to alterations in temperature, thanks to microencapsulated pigment, have been on sale at her shop (see www.e2senneville.com) for a year. If you'd like window blinds that are gray when it rains but blue when the sun comes out, rush to Paris' famous La Samaritaine department store. De Senneville also designs garments with optical fiber trim that glows in the dark courtesy of a concealed battery.