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Mar 10 2014

The anti-vaccination racket

I posted a more detailed article at Daily Kos yesterday, titled in the format used on The Big Bang Theory, The Vaccination Intervention. I was pleased to see the comment section, now 500 strong and climbing, didn’t degenerate into an all out flame war. But there were a few commenters whot were making claims that sounded like they’d been piped straight from an anti-vaxxar website or seminar. Per usual, these individuals appeared impervious to evidence and reason.

As the evidence mounted that the link to autism was a dead-end,  anti-vaxxars did what most pseudoscientists do. They upped the ante with ever more elaborate conspiracies, and moved the goal posts by making claims that were less and testable. Too many too soon is a good example:

Respectful Insolence — As I’m so fond of saying, the vaccine-autism hypothesis is not “pinin’ for the fjords.” It is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If antivaccinationists hadn’t tried to nail it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! It IS AN EX-HYPOTHESIS!!

BTW, I keep waiting for my Big Pharma payoff to arrive, but so far, nada. Cheap bastards.

There’s some religious angles to this deal. Some vaccines were developed using fetal tissue, then there’s the general distrust of government, fanned by series like X-files and nurtured by the religious right whenever there’s a democrat in the WH. But by and large we’re lucky there’s not a ton of industry money or verses in the Bible fueling this particular anti-science racket. There’s a critical point in any population beyond which large scale epidemics of preventable disease can flourish. We may be pushing in that direction in some communities, but so far at least, we haven’t exceeded that line. Much to our benefit, whether you accept the science or buy into the nonsense.

Mar 05 2014

Amy Farah Fowler sets off anti-vaxxar whine fest

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You probably do not want to read the comments in the link below. They follow a post by Mayim Bialik, aka Blossom, aka Amy Farrah Fowler on Big Bang Theory, wherein it came to light she chose not to vaccinate her kids and speculation ran that she might be an anti-vaxxar. It’s not clear if the last part is true or not. Here’s an except of her post: Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 05 2014

Paul Ryan’s shiny new toy

Recent Romney VP pick Paul Ryan has a shiny new anti-poverty program that has taken the usual DC pundits breath away, because he cares, he really cares: Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 03 2014

Another day in the trenches of the unemployed

I spend most of my time these days applying for jobs, taking skills tests for jobs, doing phone interviews and in person interviews for jobs. Then there’s ancillary stuff, like working out to look trim and fit. I typically see a hairstylist to make sure my do is up to snuff, hair professionally colored, and I always see an aesthetician the day before an in person interview to touch up eyebrows and make sure nose or ear hairs aren’t sprouting out grotesquely. I also make sure my wardrobe is appropriate, if there’s a coffee shop nearby sometimes I’ll stake out the employer or peek around online, to get a feel for day-to-day dress code, and often shop for the interview with a fashion-minded friend if need be to make sure I wear just a notch or two above what my prospective employer-interviewer is likely to be wearing. So in short, it’s a full time occupation, one I’m serious and methodical about. I even tan to look as good as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 28 2014

Baby metal explodes on the world stage

If you haven’t seen this wonderful piece of Internet goodness, enjoy. That’s the Japanese Hip-Hop death-metal-fusion group called Baby Metal. With 17 year-old Suzuka Nakamoto on lead vocals, Moa Kikuchi and Yui Mizuno screaming, rapping, and dancing on each side. That video, titled give me chocolate, is tearing the toobz apart right now, probably because, in the words of Elton John, “They’re weird and they’re wonderful.” Have a great weekend!

Feb 26 2014

What a drag it is getting old

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These days, you don’t need a boat to wakeboard. There are cable parks, where you grab a handle that’s attached to overhead cables and it pulls you right along. Of course, no boat means no wake to jump. But them young whipper-snappers have come up with a  solution, sliders and kickers. A kicker is a curved ramp, kinda like a half pipe shape to it. A slider is like a balance beam sticking out of the water. Beginner sliders might barely stick out just a few inches, more advanced ones might be three feet tall or more and have A-frame shapes to them. It’s amazing what accomplished riders have learned to do on them.

OTOH, no pun intended, if you’re aren’t a very good wakeboarder, and happen to just pop out of the water next to one of the higher sliders and maybe tap it with your board, just to make sure you can get enough air and control to think about sliding down it for real later on, and let’s just add you have a brand new Ronix Bandwagon board with a triple rocker and camber, so it’s like a flattened, recurved compound bow that launches you into the air with a surprisingly small amount of effort, you might screw up and get too high, you might get generally catty-whompus to the point that a right hand instinctively reaches out to keep you from hitting the top of the slider, and you could just possibly fracture a bone at the base of the thumb called the Trapezium. Which, as it turns out, is a bone you don’t think of much, until it’s messed up. At which time it gets crystal clear just how much that thumb is used on a daily basis.

 

 

 

Feb 26 2014

Some down home Texas politics

We have an elected office in Texas called Land Commissioner. But it’s really more about mineral extraction and distribution, i.e., big business, than just land and it’s one of several ideal starting points for a long, profitable, national political career. Alex Pareene, always a fun semi-daily read at Salon, has a short piece a couple of days ago titled GOP’s secret idiot? If George P. Bush is its future, the party’s in trouble. Wherein he makes some great points about the latest Bush-spawn running for a launching pad office in the Great Lone Star State, and may well be right. But just to take the potentially dismal counterpoint, I want to highlight one thing that jumped out at me in the post: Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 21 2014

Tech question: video editing

OK technonauts, I have cobbled together a decent desktop PC from donated parts (Thank you all, you know who you are). It’s a decent mid range gaming system and that’s cool. I’ll be downloading World of Warcraft later this week if everything seems to be running OK. I did stick with Windows 7. But the main reason I wanted this machine was to do more complex things, like make and/or edit videos quickly and professionally. Here’s a good specific need: suppose I had a jpg or other image file, let’s say of the NASA GISTEMP weather station record, which looks like this below.

Fig_A

Can I lay that over moving content? Can I stretch and move the window containing the graphic over the moving content? Same would apply to poll results either as text or bars or a chart, over moving video content? If so that would be awesomel. Better yet, I’d like to be able to dabble in some FX … say for example make someone’s nose grow Pinocchio style while they’re talking/lying. Does anyone have suggestions or experience with this stuff? One of the most recommended editing packages is PowerDirect by Cyberlink, plus it’s only $75 and there’s a free trial. Is this an editing product that will let me lay simple line graphics images or text over moving content and do other fun stuff?

Feb 21 2014

Scientific lies from the pit of Hell!

The abiotic oil idea is geologic nonsense, but it’s found a second life by being highly useful for disarming concerns among the faithful over the finite supply of fossil fuels. As Rachel correctly points out above, this is an outgrowth of young earth creationism aided by wishful thinking and the willful ignorance now in the process of utterly consuming a once relatively normal political party. It becomes a big problem for the rest of us when they put anti-science nutcases in charge of large departments tasked with preventing or mitigating this kind of stuff:

North Carolina health officials are warning residents to steer clear of the Dan River, where a pipe from a nearby power plant is dumping unsafe levels of arsenic. … Arsenic levels in the waste-water are 14 times those considered safe for human contact.“Because the Duke Power-Eden coal ash spill is located in North Carolina’s portion of the Dan River, a potential hazard exists immediately downstream of the release,” health officials said in a statement, recommending that people “avoid recreational contact with water and sediment in the Dan River in North Carolina downstream of the Duke Power-Eden spill site.”

Feb 21 2014

Steampunk planet

I enjoyed a nice week off, during which time the Earth swung one more time past my day of birth. One of the places I visited during hiatus was a Steampunk lounge. The premise is built on the idea that Charles Babbage, or someone else, completed an analytical engine around 1840. It was by some accounts the first full-blown computer with the capacity to carry forward and store answers, i.e., memory. The idea, so the story goes, led to better and more compact designs eventually bordering on near nano-tech like breakthroughs enabling all sorts of interesting robotic and cybernetic devices. Eventually, with the invention of telegraph and telephones, and the lines to carry complex signals, the Info Age dawned in 1890 or so, a full century early. This first-wave sci-fi genre remained fairly obscure throughout the reality of the 1990s. But a lot of the people who read it were also into programming, some went on to develop video games, or contribute to movies and series, so the fashion and art influence grew and evolved in different ways in a second wave.

That alternative history is called Steampunk, a play on Cyberpunk. But it struck me that in some ways, we do live in a steamy-punkish world. True, the technology that is the most ubiquitous is Wi-Fi and iPads and social media. But what still drives it, the underlying industrial infrastructure mostly unseen by today’s cell phone addict, is gears and wheels, powered by burning gas, oil and coal, turning water into steam to produce electricity.

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