Best Friday Dose of Woo Ever – or Should That Be Worst?

Orac occasionally reposts some of his classic Insolence, which is a good thing – especially when he reposts something so mind-meltingly five-alarm Woo that I wonder where it’s been all my life.  This bit of classic Insolence alternatively made me laugh, cry and howl.  I ended up starting silently at my computer screen in numb disbelief.

A taste:

Regular readers of this blog are probably aware of my general opinion about Reiki and other “energy healing” modalities. In short, they’re woo, pure and simple. Consequently, one might reasonably ask why I’ve never featured the woo that is Reiki in Your Friday Dose of Woo. There’s a simple reason for that.

Basic Reiki is boring.

Really, I mean it. In and of itself, it just doesn’t reach the level of sheer ecstatic nuttiness that I like to feature every week. Oh, sure, there’s lots of handwaving about “channeling the universal energy” through the healer to augment the life force of the person being healed. Certainly there’s lots of serious woo about being able to heal people at a distance or through laying on of hands. (And you thought Jesus was main guy known for this.) But, in its basic form, Reiki lacks something to put it truly over the top. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I found out.

It’s missing laser beams. No, really. We’re talking about Laser Reiki, which provides this promise:

If you loved the movie The Matrix, then you will love healing your life and changing your reality with Laser Reiki.

Now we’re talking! Personally, I did like The Matrix. I even liked The Matrix Reloaded. The Matrix Revolutions kind of sucked, though. Is Laser Reiki like The Matrix, or is it like The Matrix Revolutions? You be the judge!

It gets better (worse?) from there.  The shit some people come up with to ‘splain why their chosen Woo is ever-so-scientific is truly remarkable.

Quantum physicists in the audience, be warned: your heads might explode.  This cantina is not responsible for traumatic brain injury, damage to furniture, walls, or electronics, or cleaning costs for removing bits of brain matter and skull shards from any nearby surfaces, up to and including carpet, chair, pets and loved ones.

Photos to Delight and Entertain You

Just because it’s Saturday, and we could all use something light and cheerful.

Neil Gaiman has finally been spotted on ROFLRAZZI:



And Brian Switek found the cutest baby Apatosaurus in the entire universe:



Hee. It looks like it’s trying to say its first word!

And, in wonderful news, our own Suzanne was on teevee with this gorgeous photo:



How many people can say they got their pitchoor on teevee for their birfdai?  Woot!

Some Things of Especial Note

Whilst you’re waiting for me to get my arse in gear on the whole Discovery Park geo thing, here’s some lively links to keep you busy.

Callan Bentley’s moving!  He’ll be joining the new American Geophysical Union’s new blog consortium by the end of the month, so watch his space for directions to the new digs.  Congratulations, Callan!

(Ye gods – will we all be assimilated into networks?!)

Our own George W. has a fascinating post up on the powers of 10.  My mind, it is blown!

Marcelo Gleiser explains why science matters.  If you missed it the first few times it made the rounds, don’t dare miss it now.

Carl Zimmer explores where e-Book publishing might take us.  Those who believe writing and reading are dead, take heart!

And (dum-DUM-dum!) Readers Beware!  Which says everything that needs to be said to arrogant asscrunches who think bloggers are unwashed, untrustworthy little pissants sullying the fine reputation of journalism.

As For Being Shrill, Strident, Etc.

Once again, the “tone” argument’s making the rounds (does it ever cease?  It circles like a dog attempting to capture its own fugitive tail).  Ophelia Benson’s already pointed out a few of the more annoying examples.  And she led me to this delightful bit by Jason Rosenhouse, which comes just in time, because a dear (and horribly neglected) friend of mine posted rather more sensibly on the issue (hi, Paul!).  I’d meant to come up with something thoughtful and considered that would explain my position, but find I don’t have to.  All one has to do is read Jason’s post and imagine me standing there jumping up and down going, “Me, too!”

I’d quote from it, but I can’t find a single bit I want to excerpt because I want to excerpt it all.  But if you’ve ever wondered what we shrill, strident, unabashed defenders of evolution, atheism, and all things rational are thinking, this is pretty much it in a nutshell.

And remember, my dearest Paul, that we’re not trying to convert the unconvertable.  Nothing we do will reach the men and women who spend their days swearing Jesus rode a dinosaur.  Politeness won’t do it, any more than a good sharp smack will.  Think of the old psychologists-changing-a-lightbulb joke: the only way anything works is if they want to change.

No, we’re rallying the troops and aiming at the fence-sitters.  And as one of those who got knocked off the fence and had some good sense jolted in to me by those horrible shrill Gnu Atheists, as a person who disavowed woo for science because PZ, Orac et al didn’t have any trouble calling a spade a silly little shite, I can testify that being contentious sometimes does more than raise morale for the choir.  Sometimes, it awakens passion, wonder, and courage in people who might’ve sat it out.

It takes all kinds.  Changing the world isn’t a simple task!

(For those who haven’t had the pleasure, I can wholeheartedly recommend Paul’s lovely Cafe Philos blog.  After a long day in the trenches, it’s nice to sit with a cup of coffee and just enjoy some thought-provoking serenity.)

Adventurous Outtakes

I shall not bore you with the sordid details of my life, but just say: it’s chaos here.  So no geology just yet.  I’ll have something up by Saturday, after carving out some research time.

In the meantime, let us have some outtakes from Monday’s outing.  My intrepid companion and I had plans.  Oh, yes.  I’d pick him up, and we’d have some lunch, and then watch a fuck of a lot of Castle.  But the weather didn’t cooperate.  No, instead of peeing down rain, or being cloudy and cold, it decided to be all sunny and sweet.  We ended up attempting a visit to Dash Point State Park.

It was closed.

So we drove up the shoreline, and ended up at Discovery Park instead.  Been meaning to get there since getting the new camera, after all, and when you want a spot o’ hiking and a bit o’ beach with perhaps a lighthouse and a view of the Olympics, there’s no better place to go:

West Point Lighthouse and the Olympic Mountains, Discovery Park


Okay, yes, I know, there are clouds, and I said it was sunny.  It was sunny.  I mean, there were whole patches of sky that looked suspiciously blue, and there were frequent glimpses of the evil yellow hurty thing, and some of my pictures show actual sunlight.  Evidence below the fold.

Just check out this shot of the Sound if you doubt:

Big Blue



In fact, there was enough sunshine to shine through a shell:

Shining Through


So, yes, there were clouds piling up over the Olympics:

Olympics Demonstrating Physics of Wet Air Masses and Mountains


But overall, we had remarkably few clouds to contend with, considering it’s Seattle in October.  Mount Rainier even managed an appearance:

Mount Rainier


 The lighthouse has always been a highlight – it fills the point and provides something interesting and historical to look at.  They’re in the midst of a restoral project, the exterior’s had all the lead paint stripped from it, and it’s shining very prettily now:

Lead-Free!


The interior should be finished by January or so, and then we’ll be able to go in and esplore.  For now, we have to content ourselves with leaning over the fence and shooting photos through the window:

Sneak Peek of the Lighthouse Interior



But who needs the interior of a lighthouse when you’ve got riprap?  Quite a few interesting rocks piled up around the point, mostly the usual piles of basaltic andesite and other local volcanics, but every once in a while, you’ll run into a very nice boulder of gneiss:

Nice Gneiss


The obligatory closeup of the gneissy goodness:

Macro-Gneiss


Some people hoard animals.  If I wasn’t living in an apartment, I’d probably be hoarding rocks like this. 

Eventually turned my attention away from the pretty rocks and noticed the sun silhouetting the lighthouse a bit:

Backlit Lighthouse


And out in the bay, a fishing trawler came home for the night, complete with an entourage of hungry seagulls:

Fishing Trawler aka Buffet


Still haven’t figured out what this barge was all about, but the late sunlight hitting it looks awfully pretty:

Industry Inaction


Arachnophobes should look away now, because I’m about to show an absolutely brilliant orb spider just hangin’ out in his beachfront web:

Beach Bum


You may wonder why I seem to have this obsession with spiders.  The reasons are thus: They sit still, and their webs look awesome.  This makes them a pleasure to photograph.  They seem good with it – I’ve not yet had one get upset.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger.  The sun sank:

Sinking Sun


And we got one more good one of the lighthouse:

Sundown and Lighthouse


And then it was time to haul our asses up the bluff so we’d not be caught in the woods after dark.

That’s it.  Very probably the last adventure of the summer season.  But I’ve got more than enough photos left from the summer’s outings to hold us through the dark, cold gloom.  In the cantina, summer never really ends.  We’ll just crank up the heat and use our imaginations.

Dumbfuckery du Jour

I know, I know, there’s plenty of Con dumbfuckery to bash.  But let’s face facts: we already know they’re a bunch of remarkable dumbfucks who shouldn’t be trusted with pointy scissors, much less public office.  And besides, Mary Landrieu’s probably headed for their ranks just as soon as she forgets that the Teabagging masses don’t elect former Dems.  She’s already getting her practice at pulling remarkably fucktarded Con stunts:

Last month, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) announced that she would be blocking “the nomination of Office of Management and Budget [OMB] director Jack Lew until the Obama administration lifts its deepwater drilling moratorium,” singlehandedly hobbling the OMB. 

Today, the Obama administration announced that it will be ending its deepwater drilling moratorium. “The policy position that we are articulating today is that we are open for business,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters at a news conference. Yet Landrieu said in a statement today that she still refuses to lift her hold on Lew’s nomination, and will continue to “evaluate if today’s lifting of the moratorium is actually putting people back to work” and “whether or not drilling activity in both shallow and deep water is resuming” over the next month before making a decision…

Even your average hostage taker is more reasonable than these shit-for-brains wanna-be Cons.

So, my dear Louisiana voters, if you elect to send Landrieu into an early retirement, you have my blessing.  It’s just too bad she won’t end up on unemployment with no prospect of a job, her benefits set to expire because shit-for-brains supposed Senators can’t see their way clear to extending them, living in a box on an oil-slicked beach, watching as the oil companies collect their subsidies, fuck over our environment, and laugh all the way to the bank.  Seeing her kicked out of office shall have to suffice.

New Geology Coming Soon

Just got done putting over 200 miles on the car and a few miles on the legs.  After I’ve had a good sleep, I shall tell thee all about it.  In the meantime, here’s a photo from today’s outing:



And, while we’re at it, and because the cat doesn’t believe it’s bedtime yet, here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve got planned for ye:



There.  Now aren’t you glad I abandoned you with a very silly pre-loaded post instead of staying home today?  ;-)

Memories

Over at Glacial Till, Ryan has a post up sparkling with excitement – his first trip up Mt. Hood, y’see.  Read it if you haven’t.  His enthusiasm’s contagious, and we can all use some of that.

Sparked some memories, that, and a few realizations.  This threw me a bit:

Nor was I prepared for the decreased amount of oxygen available at 6000 ft above sea level. However, I survived the altitude sickness with nothing worse than a slight head ache. Not bad for my first time at that altitude outside of an airplane.

We’re surrounded by mountains that soar into the 14,000 ft range round here, so it’s easy to forget we actually live closer to sea level.  Where I live in the Seattle metro area, for instance, doesn’t get much above 300 ft.  But I’m surrounded by hills, so it feels higher.

I grew up at high altitude.  The lowest elevation I saw in my young years was 4,000 ft, and I didn’t live below 1200 until I moved from Arizona.  I still have trouble remembering I don’t need to follow the high altitude directions when cooking.  My mind will always be somewhere up there.

And when I think of high altitude, one memory comes to mind.

So this one time, at fall camp, we were kicking it at 9,000 ft, right there on the San Francisco Peaks.  Hated it.  I’m not good at being away from home now, and I was worse then.  I’m stuffed in a cabin with girls I despise, and the food sucks, and it’s fucking cold at night, and if I could’ve turned around and gone home, I would have.  But partway through the week, they took us out on an all-day hike.  It’s when I discovered I didn’t actually hate the Jehovah’s Witness kid in class.  One of the girls had gotten a little sick, y’see, and a small group of us along with one of the adults got separated from the main group while we were clustered around waiting for her to feel well enough to continue on.  We’d planned to meet up at the pre-arranged lunch spot.  But we got a little bit lost.  So no shit, there we were, a handful of kids and a young adult, trying to find our way, traipsing through the trees, knowing we were lost but never worrying much about it.  We kept going up and up and up, and suddenly, the trees were gone.  We’d hit the treeline.  We were right there where we could see and very nearly touch the Arctic part of the Peaks, the elevation where in Arizona (yes, Arizona) you get permafrost and once had glaciers.  We weren’t supposed to be anywhere near there.

We lingered for a bit while the guide got her bearings.  The whole thing had that magical sense of being somewhat forbidden, and unique to us.  The other group wouldn’t get to see this.  And it was thrilling.  So stark, so wild, so high in the sky.

We weren’t even very late for lunch, actually.  We hooked up with the rest of the group shortly afterward, and me and the Jehovah’s Witness kid hung out on a rock together, finding out that we did have things to talk about even though he was a little different.  Well, so was I.  And both of us were kind of on the sidelines for all the crazy camp antics, watching the other kids act like idiots and shaking our heads.  What I’d mistaken for a religious superiority complex was actually just high intelligence, and once I’d found that out, we got on great.

That was also the camping trip where one of the camp guides stopped us in the middle of a beautiful bowl-shaped valley and, just about the time I was admiring the lovely scenery and thinking how very serene it all was, announced we were standing in the center of a caldera.  I.  Freaked.  Out.  I knew caldera meant something like crater (which is what it actually was – she wasn’t hip to the distinctions).  I had a mild volcano phobia.  And all I could do was look around for steam vents and pray the damned volcano would stay dormant until after we’d gotten out of the crater.

Fun times, fun times.

Things improved as the week went along.  They moved my best friend into our cabin to ease my homesickness, and so the other girls had to have their best friends move in, and with double the number of kids packed in there, cold was no longer a problem.  We slept all sandwiched in, piled atop each other like puppies, and after that, the mean girl and I had a certain accord.

We dragged an enormous puffball mushroom back to camp and one of the guides (the really cute one with the earring, which was terribly risque for a man back in the 80s and so awesome to us) bashed it open so we could see the spores blow out in a cloud.

The bad boys found a family of garter snakes one day.  They made the mistake of thrusting them in my face first.  I’ve never had a fear of reptiles, and rather pissed them off when I squealed, “How cute!” and asked to hold one.  They moved on to another group of girls, which elicited the proper screams.

We learned square dancing.  We dug in to some of the very few wild plants around Flagstaff that put out berries that won’t kill you (small, waxy, and nothing to write home about, but exciting because they were wild food).  We built a shelter, and sent up smoke signals, and would’ve built an igloo if there’d been enough snow on the ground.  We watched an educational film about surviving in the wilderness that we all loved because it had a guy dying of a really gruesome sunburn.  We had archery, and I hit the bull’s eye.  We scared away all the local wildlife.  And by the end of the week, I was willing to stay up there the rest of my life.

When the buses disgorged us at the school, my mother was waiting there, holding my much-missed dog, who got so excited when she saw me that she peed down my poor mom’s leg.

Later, my mom and I took a walk in the woods behind our house, where we found an animal skull and a shed snake skin, and I realized I’d just forged a much deeper connection to the natural world.  Not that I hadn’t grown up in it, but I knew things about it now that I’d never known before.

But the one thing out of all that experience that comes back to me over and over again is that glorious moment when we stepped from the tree line and saw tundra, a sight few Arizonans ever see.

No wonder I’ve got a high-altitude attitude.

Cleaning and Creativity

Cleaning day is a very dangerous day.

After taking Silmë for a walk (okay, drive), during which I picked up business cards from my favorite dealer and got reassured I’d made an excellent car-buying choice, I decided it’s time to excavate the house.  And yes, I do mean excavate.  Part of this enterprise involved vacuuming.  My vacuum cleaner didn’t survive the experience.  I’ve known for a while the ol’ motor wasn’t what it used to be, and today, it told me to fuck off while it died.  Well, at least it did that after I’d finished the carpets.  It’s been a good and loyal vacuum for a good many years, and it was just its time.

Then I had to iron my curtains, because when I washed them, they got all wonky.  One looked much longer than the other.  This wasn’t right.

So I’ve been off the intertoobz for a good proportion of the day, and right now all I want to do is put my bed back together and stay in it for a few days.  But there’s an interesting post I felt it necessary to highlight: “How to Trick Yourself Creative.”  It seems people actually study this stuff, and here are some conclusions:

However, in terms of the science, here’s what I can offer:

  • Longer periods of preparation beget longer periods of incubation;
  • When solving linguistic problems (making sense of a given set of information) engaging in tasks with a low cognitive demand is most effective in generating insight during incubation;
    High congitive demand tasks during incubation are not facilitative;
  • When solving creative problems, it seems engaging in a wide information search (during incubation) is most effective; and
  • When a problem has a limited set of solutions, information search may not be facilitative; Incubation most benefits ‘divergent thinking’*, followed by linguistic tasks, followed by visual tasks (like mental rotations)

So I do not want to hear a single fucking snarky comment the next time I am blocked and doing things like building Japanese villages out of toothpicks instead of writing.  That falls under the “tasks with a low cognitive demand” category, m’kay?  And if anybody gives me shit over those endless rambles through Google and reference books, I shall hit them over the head with a rolled-up copy of the above post.  Fair warning.

I’m turning the floor over to you, my darlings.  What do you do when your creativity needs a good boost?