Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why Parents Drink...

Via my mom.  And no, this isn't her story about me:
A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up.

Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to "Dad."

With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you. I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice.

But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am.

But it's not only the passion...Dad she's pregnant.

Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.

Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy. In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better.

She deserves it.

Don't worry Dad. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.

Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.

Love, Your Son John, P.S. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the report card that's in my center desk drawer.

I love you.

Call me when it's safe to come home.

The Wrong Diner...

Gun Control...

Via Jim M.:
A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him "Why do you carry a 45?" The Ranger responded, "Because they don't make a 46."
The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?" He promptly replied, "No Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my shotgun."
I was once asked by a lady visiting if I had a gun in the house? I said I did. She said, "Well I certainly hope it isn't loaded!" To which I said, "Of course it is loaded; it can't work without bullets!" She then asked, "Are you that afraid of someone evil coming into your house?" My reply was, "No, not at all. I am not afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too."

We Remember...

Via the good doctor Simi L.:

Do You Know What This Is?

You probably think it's a snowflake, right?


It's a baby picture of Frosty the Snowman.

This cruelty was inflicted by my lovely bride.

Martian Images...

Both in today's dump from Curiosity.  The top one is in true color, a close-up taken with the MHLI camera (full resolution).  The bottom one is a composite panorama of images taken by the Mast camera (full resolution), color-adjusted to show what the scene would look like were it on Earth.

Basic Science Errors in the Mainstream Media...

It surprises me how commonly I find basic science errors in publications from mainstream media.  Here's an article in The Economist that provides a great example.  The offending paragraph:
It is true, and was the basis of Edison's showmanship, that low-frequency alternating current can be more hazardous than an equivalent direct current. By oscillating at a similar frequency (50-60 hertz) to the human heart, a sufficiently strong alternating current can cause that organ to beat arhythmically and thereby induce ventricular fibrillation—a potentially deadly condition that needs to be corrected immediately.
Most of the rest of the article is at least close to accurate, but this paragraph is laughably inaccurate.  For starters, the statement that alternating current oscillates at a similar frequency is off, by a factor of 60.  The author appears to have confused oscillations per second (in alternating current) with beats per minute (of our hearts).  He then goes on to develop a theory, unknown to science, that this similarity of frequency is the reason why alternating current induces arhythmia.  It's just wrong; completely made up so far as I can tell.

The mainstream media is full of this sort of thing.  It's a rare day that goes by without me spotting at least one of them.  Most of them never get corrected, or even noted by any commenters.  This can only mean one of two things, I think: either people who are reasonably science-literate have just given up, or there aren't very many science-literate people.  Come to think of it, it could be both at the same time.


Guide to Etiquette Around the World...

Nice little interactive infographic full of information on things like gestures, tipping, dining protocol, etc...

Some Beautiful Photos...

Stunning collection, including this one:

Incandescent Stupidity...

Via the irreplaceable Rachel Lucas, who says it better than I possibly could: one of the best distillations of the lunacy of opposition to legal private ownership of guns, and also of the incandescent stupidity of advertising a place as a “Gun-Free Zone”.

It’s also an interesting study of people who I hope are at least dimly aware of the cognitive dissonance that would give vertigo to a rational person.

I love Project Veritas!


I ran across the Zooniverse site completely by accident yesterday.  It's a portal into a series of web sites designed to allow ordinary citizens to help out on large science projects.  The general theme is to help sort through very large quantities of data that aren't amenable to computer analysis.  People are very good at detecting patterns, and a number of these web sites seek to exploit that with large numbers of human pattern-detectors.

For example, Planet Four (that would be Mars) is one of the sites is looking for people to help classify some odd features on the enormous collection of high-resolution photos taken by satellites whizzing around Mars.  There are so many of these photos that many of them have never been viewed by a human!

You have no excuse to be bored!