Tilting at windmills »« Detecting life in the universe without leaving our armchairs

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Clean-up week at home, crazy amounts of changes at work, and the world keeps spinning in the meantime. Let’s get caught up on some of the happenings.

Personal news: Home Depot is trading my microwave up to a GE to make up for the craptastic Magic Chef. It arrives on or about May 5th.

First up, all sorts of buzz about the Swine Flu. Seems to only be killing people secondarily, e.g. with pneumonia, while their immune systems are working overtime trying to fight with itself (which is why it’s mostly hitting young and healthy people the hardest). WHO says it’s still a potential pandemic, but it honestly doesn’t seem any more serious than any other flu, and it responds well to Tamiflu, presently. Might be an idea to get infected by it now, to grant you immunity to some future offshoot or mutation that’s close enough to this one for the immunity blanket to work (think cow pox / smallpox).

Michelle Bachmann, mayor of Crazyland USA (or something), believes it’s an “interesting coincidence” that Obama is in charge during this swine flu outbreak, and that the last swine flu outbreak also happened under a Democrat. Wait, that was Gerald Ford. Wasn’t he a Republican?

The ultra-religious Deputy Health Minister of Israel wants to change the name of the Swine Flu to Mexican Flu, now that instances are being discovered within their borders. This call for change comes so the Israeli won’t have to pronounce the word “swine” which is, obviously, un-kosher. Their emissary to Mexico however said it won’t happen. Either way, hilarity. The crazies always seem to have the loudest voice and the most faith.

Orac eviscerates Huffington Post, and rightly so, for giving platform to Kim Evans, proponent of enemas as a bulwark against swine flu. Seriously — because rinsing your butt out with water or coffee or hydrochloric acid or whatever, will keep you from getting a virus.

And finally on the pig front: XKCD’s take on idiots panicking on Twitter about the swine flu. Go to the site and mouseover the comic for some useful advice!

Microsoft wants to include a fully functional virtualized Windows XP on Windows 7, in order to keep people interested in upgrading, but are opening up a can of worms for themselves since they’d have to keep updating XP (in the virtualized form at least) for as long as Windows 7 is around. Soooo… that brings up the question: If Windows XP is working for you, and Windows 7 will just require you to get more hardware to do the same things, and none of 7′s upgrades are useful to you… why upgrade at all?

If you’re going to upgrade, why not upgrade from Windows to Linux? Keep XP around for playing games or whatnot, but get a real operating system with real security and real functionality. Ubuntu 9.04 is out, and it’s great. Got it on both my laptop and desktop now, have been running on the laptop for a while through the beta period. The increased boot speed is not just hype, I promise.

The cooling in Antarctica seems to be a direct result of the hole in the ozone layer, and as CFCs dissipate, and the ozone replenishes, apparently it will start to warm back up. Quirks and Quarks suggests this is a blow to people who deny humans could ever have any kind of effect on our environment. I suggest this won’t stop these same people from simultaneously admitting the global climate is changing, and denying we have anything to do with it, blaming everything from solar forcing (despite our presently abnormally quiet spotless sun) to cosmic rays (which can be measured and therefore the hypothesis can be tested, and the test results are unconvincing so far). It’s kind of sad that rather than looking at the evidence before them, once again a certain breed of people would rather knee-jerk declare the science to be wrong so as not to have to deal with the consequences of it being right.

Yes, I said a “certain breed”. I’m talking about the same kind of person who endorses enemas and chiropractic to treat the flu, and reading a 2000 year old book to find out how old the universe is. Pick your side, then stick to it, and damn any evidence that comes along. Personally, I prefer reality. Where you do science to figure things out, then take the truth no matter how much it pains you to do so. This isn’t limited to conservatism, though that mode of thinking lends far more to religious indoctrination — in fact, my example above of the Huffington Post is a great illustration of how easily left-wing folks can get duped into believing bullshit.

Okay. I’m going to bed before I get all raged out or something. Blogging is so cathartic!

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