Did I Mention I Love This Guy?

I have to say, Patrick Stewart is one of my all time favorite people. I watched him on Star Trek as a child, and I have since discovered that he is an all around great guy with a dry, ironic sense of humor I love.

So when I saw this video pop up on my feed, I knew I was probably going to love it too

 

So British. So funny.

 

Bad Science: Urine Therapy

Note: post from the old blog, slightly edited. The first of a new segment to come: bad science. Any suggestions for things you know, or suspect of being bad science are welcome in the comments section.

I get asked a lot of questions about strange alternative therapies quite often, and this is one that has been on my radar for a while now. People who drink their own urine for therapeutic reasons. Gross right? Well, yes, but that’s hardly the reason why I’m going to call it out now. My father drank a cup of horse blood every day for two weeks after a terrible car crash left him very dangerously anemic in order to get his iron levels back up, and that’s pretty disgusting too, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. I’m going after urine therapy for the two most important, fundamental reasons:

1. It doesn’t make any sense
2. There is no scientific evidence for it

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How Much Does Intent Matter?

This is a question that I struggle with a lot whenever I am confronted with the consequences of mass stupidity and ignorance. The people I have talked to over the years all have very different opinions on it, but now I want to put the question to you as well, in the hopes of starting a wider discussion. It is one of those things that will ultimately come down to opinion, and not everyone will agree. With that, let’s begin.

I think that we can all agree that intent, as in what we intend to do, is important to some extent and this is reflected in our laws. For example, take these three scenarios:

  1. A person meticulously plans, then executes a murder, and then tries to cover up their tracks in an attempt to evade the law.
  2. A person gets into a verbal altercation and punches someone in the face, who then trips, smacks their head against a stone floor, and dies.
  3. A person is driving along a dark road, turns a corner, hits a person walking along the side of the road in the dark and kills them. This person then pulls over and calls the police, distraught.

All three of these scenarios result in the death of an innocent person. In all three cases, the consequences of the person’s actions are the same. However, I think we can all agree that the punishment they should face should be very different, because intent matters. Person A intended to kill someone and get away with it. Person B intended to physically assault someone in the heat of an argument, but certainly never intended to kill them. Person C never intended to do any harm to anyone at all. In most countries the laws reflect that, despite the outcome being the same, the punishment for creating that outcome should be very different in these three scenarios.

Intent matters. But sometimes, when extreme ignorance is involved, we are forced to consider how much intent should really matter.

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Following the Rules Part III: Why Have Speed Limits?

In yesterday’s post, I talked a little bit about how it is common in the Italian culture to ask themselves why a rule exists before following it, rather than following it simply because it is a rule. That got me thinking about a conversation I had a few years back with a couple of American friends of mine, about speed limits and speed traps.

They were visiting me in Italy, and I was driving them around in my Grandmother’s car. We were chatting about this and that, when I suddenly slowed down.

“Why did you slow down?” They asked

“Well, because I just passed a sign saying that a speed camera was coming up. And there it is, see the little sign with the cartoon of a traffic cop? That means there is a camera over there. I’m not sure of the limit here, so I’m just going to be on the safe side”.

They started laughing uproariously in the back seat. I was confused, why is that funny? If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not get a ticket. When they finally calmed down a little, they spluttered “but…. but…. that defeats the entire purpose of a speed trap! You have signs over the cameras?! That’s hilarious! How does anyone ever get a ticket!”

I had never thought about it before. Does it defeat the purpose of having speed cameras, if you’re going to signpost them? Italy is certainly not the only country which does this, other European countries signpost their speed cameras too. Then I realized, it depends on what you think the purpose of speed cameras, or speed limits, is.

So, why do speed limits exist? And why is it important to check if people are obeying the speed limit?

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Following the Rules Part II: Policing Others’ Behavior

Recently, I wrote a post about how baffled I was by the very strict adherence to seemingly arbitrary rules in the United States. Now I am living in Germany, another country which is famous for it’s love of rules. However, the norm for following the rules that I have observed in Germany manifested itself in a very different way compared to what I have observed in the US.

It all started one day when my boyfriend was driving me to work.

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This Week in Zoology: Kangaroos

I harbored a passion for Zoology from a very early age, so my American grandmother used to tape science T.V. shows for kids and mail them to me when I was little. During an episode of (I think) Kratts’ Creatures, I heard a great story about how kangaroos got their name.

The story is that, when Captain Cook arrived in Australia, he was shocked by the odd creatures he found there. Spotting a kangaroo, he asked an Aborigine who happened to be there “Excuse me, what do you call that strange animal over there?”. The Aborigine replied “Kangaroo”, which meant “I don’t understand you”, and lo the kangaroo got its funny name.

A quick search through the internet of the etymology of the word kangaroo leads me to believe that this story is a myth. However that hardly matters, because there are plenty of strange and interesting facts about kangaroos which are perfectly true, no myths necessary.

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Heading Back Today

Today I have to say goodbye to my city and start the 13-hour car ride back to Germany. My heart is breaking at the thought of it, but I know the homesickness will subside once I’m there. Roma mia, it’s always a pleasure.

Get rid of your mafia problem, and I’m coming back for good.

Holidays With Crys: How to Pick a Good Gelato

Italian ice cream is another one of those things that Italy is particularly famous for, and you will find that you can’t swing a dead cat around a city like Rome without hitting at least 3 Gelaterie. Gelato is not too sweet, make with fresh milk and whole fruit, and is just plain delicious.

The problem with gelato is that it is very expensive to make properly, so many people, especially ones that sell gelato in highly touristic areas, are tempted to resort to using syrups and artificial flavor packets to save money and maximize profits. Some will also start with making good gelato in order to gain a reputation, then switch to the flavor packets once they’ve built up enough favorable internet ratings to ensure a steady customer flow. Given this, how are you going to tell if the gelato place you wind up in during your holidays is a good one? Life is too short to waste time on bad gelato.

Well, luckily, there is one solid indicator of the quality of the gelato in the establishment you have chosen. You don’t even have to taste it, you just have to look at it.

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This Week in Zoology: Guess Where Pearl Fish Live

This is an example of a pearl fish. It is a quite small, quite slender, scaleless marine fish. The pearl fish are actually a family of fish, encompassing 36 different species. Many of the members of this family have a… well… interesting habitat of choice. They live in the sea, yes, but in a very particular part of the sea.

Can you guess where they live? Go on, guess.

 

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