Friday, November 23, 2007

Newton's Third Law

I'm detecting a pro-reproduction bias in the Daily Mail. See if you agree.

Daily Mail | Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni [Vermelli], 35.

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."
I'm all for it when people with little to no parental inclinations decide not to reproduce. The "reporters," though, make no attempt to hide their disgust and horror. They barely manage not to chortle when the woman admits that she and her husband "have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children," which they describe at some length.

Daily Mail | Woman told she'd had a miscarriage - then has triplets instead

When she was told she had suffered a miscarriage, Beverley Cunningham was devastated.

At the age of 40, she feared her last chance to have another baby had slipped away.

But only 24 hours later, after a scan to confirm the miscarriage, she and her husband Andrew were given the most incredible news.

Mrs Cunningham was still pregnant - with triplets.

At odds of nearly a million to one, she had conceived quads naturally, but had miscarried one of them at 12 weeks.
The story tries to present this as a feel-good story of a woman's triumph over a medical setback, having long-desired children despite the odds. The detail that these are children number five, six and seven glides by almost unnoticed.

But check the message board at for conjecture that one of these children is...evil.

(Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

In the Eye of the Beholder

In the Eye of the Beholder
Originally uploaded by ixnay_.

Is there a proper way to load a dishwasher? Apparently.

Over time, this habit — establishing and maintaining eye contact — creates favorable situations and produces results. The eye-contact specialist gets talked to first, dealt with most promptly, and responded to most thoroughly. He's always first in line for a reason.

Most people (even many who work on the brain) assume that what you see is pretty much what your eye sees and reports to your brain. In fact, your brain adds very substantially to the report it gets from your eye, so that a lot of what you see is actually "made up" by the brain.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Ha ha ha"?

Yahoo News (AFP) | Santas warned 'ho ho ho' offensive to women
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could frighten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute.

...A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was "misleading" to say the company had banned Santa's traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.

Why not try the Woody Woodpecker laugh? There's a Santa with style.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Did you change your clocks?

the homeless tourist
Originally uploaded by workingsux.
Well, it could be worse.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat | Study ties time shift, pedestrian deaths
Fischbeck and Gerard conducted a preliminary study of seven years of federal traffic fatalities and calculated risk per mile walked for pedestrians. They found that per-mile risk jumps 186 percent from October to November, but then drops 21 percent in December.

They said the drop-off by December indicates the risk is caused by the trouble both drivers and pedestrians have adjusting when darkness suddenly comes an hour earlier.

The reverse happens in the morning when clocks are set back and daylight comes earlier. Pedestrian risk plummets, but there are fewer walkers then, too. The 13 lives saved at 6 a.m. don't offset the 37 lost at 6 p.m., the researchers found.

...The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of Arlington, Va., in earlier studies found the switch from daylight saving time to standard time increased pedestrian deaths. Going to a year-round daylight saving time would save about 200 deaths a year, the institute calculated, said spokesman Russ Rader.
The answer to the number of lives, and the amount of money, that might be saved if we just leave the clocks the f**k alone awaits another study.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Fightin' ...what?

Cracked magazine is gone, I think, but the website lives on. Today they have a list of the World's Most Ridiculous Sports Team Names, which is pretty fertile ground for ridicule if you take any of them seriously.

My all-time favorite, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, is on their list -- although they considered it a runner-up in their "Non-Threatening Animals" category. Their winner: Japanese pro baseball's the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

And you'd think "Non-Threatening Inanimate Objects", which includes the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes and the winning Teutopolis (H.S.) Wooden Shoes would have room for -- nay, be dominated by -- the Wichita State University Shockers and their mascot, Wushock (pictured). But, no, he's conspicuously absent.

I'm not a sports fan, and never have been, but I have a fondness for odd team mascots. Perhaps this is because at my high school, we were the Golden Tornadoes. And our colors were gold (duh) and maroon, which I always thought worked well together. That changed in my senior year, to Warhawks, but what high school senior is really interested in anything that happens at school any more?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white Halloween

Tacky Christmas
Originally uploaded by ulla*.
You'll never guess what happened yesterday.

Well, that's a lie. You'll guess quite easily if you live in Kansas City. The lucky listeners of KCKC (Star 102.1) are now among the first in the nation to enjoy all-Christmas music, all the time.

Yes, on Halloween.

Crosstown rival Cuddle 98.1 wasted little time in doing the same, today, November 1.

Meanwhile, Walmart is making five of its "Black Friday" specials available tomorrow.

CORRECTION: The first radio station to flip their format to all-Christmas in 2007 was WNOU Indianapolis, who did the deed on October 8 to begin their "93 Days of Christmas". Incidentally, they're also getting their "contemporary hit" audience out of the habit of listening to them, since they're changing their call letters to WEXM and their format to all-talk effective January 9. But there's still a WNOU, since WYJX has bought the station's call letters, format, intellectual property, and as many of the existing staff as are willing to make the move. I really don't understand the radio industry.