News of the Weird: Robots prep docs for giving prostate exams

  • Updated: January 17, 2014 - 3:14 PM

At least two U.S. medical schools so far are early adopters of Dr. Benjamin Lok’s and Dr. Carla Pugh’s “Robot Butt” for teaching doctors-in-training to properly (and compassionately) administer prostate exams. The robot, bent over a desk to simulate the patient profile, has sensors to alert the students if they dig too deeply or quickly for comfort. Other sensors enable a check on eye contact to evaluate “bedside manner.”

The continuing crisis

Neuroscientist James Fallon, fascinated by the brains of serial killers, experienced a seminal career moment in 2005 when he realized that his own brain scan was a dead-on match for the typical psychopath’s. Subsequent self-examination revealed him to be, he said, a “pro-social psychopath,” displaying traits similar to a killer’s (aggressiveness, low empathy) and different (“killing” opponents only in games and debate). Fallon failed to break bad, he guesses, because he “was loved [growing up], and that protected me.” He strives “to show to everyone and myself that I can pull [this balancing act] off.”

Sucker’s game

Homeless man James Brady had his New Jersey state benefits cut off in October for “hiding” income. He had found $850 on a sidewalk in April and turned it in; when no one came forward, it was returned to him, though he was unaware that he needed to report it as “income.”

A 16-year-old Fox Chapel, Pa., boy realized at a football game in September that he was inadvertently carrying a pocket knife and conscientiously turned it in to a security guard — which earned him a 10-day school suspension. The school’s “zero tolerance” rule, said the boy’s father, “sends a message that you should probably lie.”

Betty Green was fired as a clerk at the Speedway gas station in Lexington, Ky., in November after she “just said no” to an armed robber, who smiled and walked out. Company rules require always giving up the money. Said Green, “I don’t think anybody knows what you are going to do until it happens to you.”

Bright ideas

The vandalism of Marion County High School in Jasper, Tenn., on the eve of a big football game in November was not, after all, the work of arch-rival South Pittsburg — notwithstanding the clues. The South Pittsburg markings were apparently made by Marion County teacher/coach Michael Schmitt, who was arrested. He told officers he was trying to inspire the team (which lost anyway, 35-17).

People with issues

Police in Mayville, Wis., arrested John Grant, 42, in November for shooting his wife, Nicole, three times with a stun gun. The couple tried to explain that Nicole (Green Bay Packers fan) had bet John (Chicago Bears fan) on the game, with the winner getting to stun the loser (although she said she didn’t think John would actually shoot her). (According to breath tests, neither of the Grants could have lawfully driven a car.)

Suspicions confirmed

During the September Guantanamo Bay trial of five people charged in connection in the 9/11 attacks, defense lawyers complained that their “confidential” client information was being leaked from the poorly secured “classified” Pentagon computer network. Said the lead defense counsel (Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry), she has been forced to use the Wi-Fi at the local Guantanamo Starbucks, which she regards as more secure.

Armed & clumsy

A 66-year-old firearms instructor in Winona, Minn., shot his finger in April while explaining to his wife that it was impossible to pull the trigger while the gun was holstered.

 

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