Tuesday, November 30, 2010

belated thanks...

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I just wanted to take a second to thank my parents for not only not indoctrinating me into the ridiculousness of religion but for ensuring that I grew up with access to quality comprehensive health care that included all of the recommended childhood vaccinations. I would like to thank scientists and doctors for persevering in the face of true stupidity and encouraging everyone to continue to protect themselves against dangerous, deforming and deadly diseases -because no one should have to die from whopping cough and no one should have to get the measles in this day and age. And I want to thank everyone who is aware of their vaccination schedule and their need to get regular booster shots to ensure that they, and the people around them, are protected.

This pretty much says it all:

Hugs for smart people! Hooray!!


Ur: a city in Mesopotamia.

Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia.
Hay Ur is a neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq.
Ur, Pyrénées-Orientales, is a commune of the Pyrénées-Orientales département in southern France.
Ur, Catalonia, is a town in Catalonia, Spain (go figure).
Ur was the name given to the first known continent in tectonics.
Úr was a letter of the Ogham alphabet, and of the runic alphabets.
Also, Ur is a race of aliens in Fading Suns, a role-playing game, and a novella written by Stephen King, originally exclusively released for the Amazon Kindle.
UR is an abbreviation for several universities: Universität Regensburg (Germany), University of Regina (Canada), Universidad Regiomontana (Mexico), University of Rhode Island, University of Richmond, University of Redlands and the chickenfucking University of Rochester, bitches.

Ur is NOT, however, in any sense of English, an appropriate abbreviation for "your" or "you're," and when you do that, you make me want to cut off your fingers with a straight razor and pull your tongue out with tongs.

On a related note, you say "you're so funny." Not "your so funny." Every time I read "your so funny" I think "My so funny, what?" and I die a little inside because you are to motherfuckitlazy to add an apostrophe where you should damn well know one belongs.

And if you don't know the difference between "there" and "they're" and "their," you should be banned from all electronic communications devices and have your fingers eaten off by scarabs.

Further enlightenment:
It is "another whole" or "another entire." It is NOT EVER "a whole nother."
It is "suffice to say." It is never "suffice it to say."
It is "especially" and "espresso," with an S. It it not ever, ever "expecially" or "expresso," with an X. Never.
It is "beside the point," NOT "besides the point."
It is "I couldn't care less," not, I repeat, NOT "I could care less." Because you mean to say that you could not possibly care any less than you do about the topic at hand, like Lady Gaga or "Twilight." When you say that you could care less, you are implying that there is a lesser level of caring which you could read about the topic, but you're not quite there yet. Which is, in all likelihood, not what you mean. So stop it.
It is -quite obviously- "ET CETERA" and not "eck-cetera." ...As should be pretty clear from the abbreviation, which is ETC and not ECT.
It is "I saw it," it is not "I seen it." It is especially not "I seen it" if you work for a publishing company.
It is "the thing is." It is NOT "the thing OF IT is" and especially not "the thing of it is is." Just "the thing is." Stop adding words!
It is "even so," and NOT "even still."

And please, by the power of grayskull, only use the word "literally" when you actually mean LITERALLY. Not almost, not practically, not virtually, not nearly, but literally. Yes, there is a difference. No, H and J are NOT literally right next to each other in the alphabet because I is between them. H is literally next to I.

Further bulletins as events warrant. Stop writing and speaking like a moron. Don't make me get my Alot and stampede your ass.

(image source)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

symphonies? science? BOTH?!

I hate autotune, but it occasionally has its uses; like here in this latest release from the Symphony of Science:

Be sure to check out all the brilliance from this series, including my still favorite:

Monday, November 22, 2010

You get a placebo, and YOU get a placebo, and YOU get a placebo! Everyone gets a placebo!!

On Friday, the Red Dragon and I went to the mall. Gulp. I hate shopping, I hate the mall, I hate people, I hate holiday bullshit. But we had to go, so we consolidated a bunch of errands and did a quick tour, which hopefully will be our only trip to the mall this season (I make it a rule to avoid the place between Halloween and Valentine's Day if possible).

While there, we passed by a Power Balance kiosk and I had to be restrained from asking for a demonstration and then explaining "placebo effect" and "confirmation bias" to them...
In case you don't know, Power Balance bracelets are only one product in a long line of scams designed to make you feel like you're doing something useful or beneficial when really you're just wasting your money. You know, like Airborne, or detox products, or multi-vitamins, or acupuncture.
The Power Balance people bet on the idea that if you're sick or in pain, you're probably not 100% satisfied with your current treatment plan so why not add a rubber bracelet to your regimen? What's the harm? I mean, aside from wasting your money on a provably implausible gimmick and encouraging other people to forgo actual medicine and treatments in favor of an overpriced bit of junk. Because those seem to be pretty big arguments against it for me...

As far as the science goes, it's pretty conclusive.
Harriet Hall and Phil Plait (not to mention SETI’s Are We Alone radio program) gotchu. SGU gotchu. A round-up from Wired.com gotchu.
And it's a Shonky Award Winner. So, yeah. Shonky gotchu.

So, it's up to you. You can buy a Power Balance bracelet for upwards of $60-$90 and get absolutely no effect aside from placebo and confirmation bias, or you can buy a Placebo Band for $2 (Australian) and get exactly the same effects. Or you could buy, like, a beer. Your choice.

Personally, I desperately want the Placebo Band, but I don't even want to shell out the money to make a point. Maybe in the new year. Either way, though, you can read about how the Placebo Band "works" from the Skeptic Bros, and can see how the woo-peddlers trick you with the demonstrations.

And remember, if you see someone peddling nonsense and want to help them reason their way out of it, be calm and kind and empathetic and patient and please please please please DON'T BE A DICK.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the so-called conscience clause

NOTE: point forward, anything I find share-worthy for Facebook is also going to end up here. It'll lead to more blog entries, of course, and also an archive of news and nonsense I felt compelled to share. So, here goes:

Pharmacist Refusal Clauses: There's No Conscience In Sending Women Elsewhere
Agreed. One of George W. Bush's lasting monstrous acts was to allow pharmacists (and by extension doctors and nurses) to refuse to fill legally acquired prescriptions for such things as emergency contraception or even regular birth control. Because Mr. Bush was so biased against a woman's ability to make her own decisions and so distrusting that women know what's best for them, and because of his misunderstanding of what different forms of birth control are and do, he decided that pharmacists should be able to refuse to do their jobs. This has allowed medical personnel to refuse care to pregnant women because it might harm their fetus -never mind the health or life of the woman- and has allowed nurses to forcibly remove IUDs and then refuse to reinsert them, and has forced women to carry pregnancies they do not want.
Here's the deal, people: if you don't approve of abortion or allow your religious beliefs to interfere with your decisions to the extent that you need to push them forcefully on others, maybe you shouldn't be a pharmacist.

Bottom line: If your beliefs interfere with your ability to do your job, find a different job.

In a similar vein, Planned Parenthood urges you to TAKE ACTION on a petition to provide no-cost birth control -to list birth control as a preventative measure and thereby exempt from co-pays under the new health care plan.
"Birth control matters. It matters to the young woman finishing college or starting a career. It matters to the family struggling to make ends meet. It matters to the woman suffering from endometriosis. It matters to mothers and fathers who treasure the children they have."

It matters, bitches. Let people prevent unwanted pregnancies and thereby be better able to care for the children they already have, or the children they might have someday. Or, perhaps, allow them to remain childfree if that is their desire.

Needless to say, I'm passionate about this topic. Reproductive rights and vaccines and environmental causes, that's me. So there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

you know it's a party when...

There are parts of my college years (fall of 1997 to spring of 2001) which I recall with great nostalgia and fondness. And yes, there are parts at which I roll my eyes and parts that are marred by violent retching and parts that are grey and fuzzy all the way through. But never mind that.
One of the fond nostalgic parts was the "you know it's a party when" list, scrawled across some sort of beer poster, I think. It contained such gems as "Hans wears a sombrero" and something about beer-case-helmet-jousting. I'm sure there is a photograph of it somewhere, but we'll have to make do without.

Upon graduation and my eventual entrance into the wild world of homeowners, it occurred to me that I ought to start my own list. And so I did. And so here it is -a work in progress, of course.

You Know It's A Party When...
1. You have to squeegee the garage floor.
2. Someone falls out of the pool (or doesn't make it in).
3. There's a midnight beer run.
4. Someone breaks a drumstick.
5. You can't even look at the Tequila bottle the next day.
6. Chicks. Get. Naked.
7. Something or someone gets humped by The Chris.
8. Someone is carried up the stairs.
9. You wake up in bed without your pants, and have no memory of how you got that way.
10. There is photographic evidence of your absurdities, and you never saw a camera.
11. You don't remember where that bruise came from.
12. There's nothing but ping pong balls and shot glasses in the dishwasher.
13. You wake up half naked on the living room floor next to the recycling bucket.
14. Someone is banging on the ceiling, yelling "wake up, mother fucker!!"
15. You're so passed-out drunk that someone can put weights on you without being noticed.
16. It's Cuban, B.
17. Somebody says, "I don't even know what to say."
18. Sara Lovell points and laughs.
19. The Chris asks how one gets hit in the head with a ladder golf golf ball.
20. Someone gets hit in the head with a ladder golf golf ball.
21. We have to make a "no fireworks anymore, dude" rule. Again.
22. The only clean spot anywhere is the sink.
23. The bathroom door is locked, and someone is passed out inside.
24. Someone has to be told, "one hand on the counter; one hand on your cock."
25. Amanda is floppy.
26. Yoga happens.
27. Splits happen.
28. Amanda audibly shatters another shot glass, and then asks if it's broken.
29. Someone is TOO drunk to play Asshole.
30. You have no idea how the cake got melted.