Friday, February 26, 2010

How? Huh?

My MIL sent me a link to this picture from the NYT. How, exactly, were the track marks in the snow made? Every time I think I figure it out, the fact that there aren't two wheeled cars trips me up. A trailer? Unicyclists? Just an axle? Photoshop?


What's real?

Half the time when I'm watching a movie, I can no longer reliably tell what is real and what is computer generated -- but I never realized how ubiquitous the green/blue screen is on television. (although why I should be surprised by this is beyond me, with lower budgets it makes perfect sense that they build backgrounds and such via computer.

But this is still pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At it again

The religious whackoloons are at it again in Utah. They have proposed legislation that would make miscarriage a criminal offense.
Utah is posed to become the first state in the U.S. to criminalize miscarriage and punish women for having or seeking an illegal abortion. Utah's "Criminal Miscarriage" law:

* expands the definition of illegal abortion to include miscarriages
* removes immunity protections for women who have or seek illegal abortions
* assumes women are "guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child" if a pregnancy ends after "intentional, knowing, or reckless" behavior.

But even among states that punish illegal abortions, this "Criminal Miscarriage" law is unique. It doesn't punish individuals who perform illegal procedures; it punishes women.
It has a very minimal chance of passing, since it's vague enough that it would be impossible to actually enforce. Is riding a bike ocnsidered reckless? How about hiking? How about swimming? How about a job that exposes them to second hand smoke? Drinking coffee? Having sex? What other "controls" do they plan to put on women to ensure they fulfill their role as walking uterus?

They didn't think this one through, from a applicability perspective, but they sure as hell thought it through from a position of punishing women and forced pregnancy. These people hate women, there is no other possible way to interpret this. It is too grotesque for words.

And they are obivously ignorant of the fact that miscarriage is very, very common -- up to 40% of all conceptions miscarry (many of those fertlized eggs that never implant), and of the roughly 4 1/2 million pregnancies every year, half a million end in miscarriage, and another thirty thousand or so in stillbirth or infant death. These statistics include all women, not just those the Utah legislature seem to want to target -- the women who are "reckless" and intentionally do things that can cause a miscarriage. Not just the ones who "deserve" to go to jail because they got pregnant. Becuase, as we all know, a woman is just a container for a fetus, once she gets pregnant. Idiots.

Women may have to PROVE that the miscarriage they had was not 'criminal'. Think about that. Think about the woman you know who had a miscarriage (we all know a few)...dealing with the loss of a pregnancy which they most likely wanted and hoped for...and to be criminally investigated and forced to prove they didn't do anything "wrong". I'm so angry I'm having a hard time typing that.

The legislators in Utah really want their own particular version of morality to be enforced. Their version of morality is hateful and wrong and evil. Regardless of what side of the abortion issue you are on, this is beyond the pale.

Even better, they are now going to classify anything that causes a miscarriage as "illegal abortion", and, if you read the text of the bill, it eliminates any option for elective abortion. It is not only a ban on legal abortion except in very narrow circumstances, it criminalizes everything else. O

This law: - defines legal abortion as a procedure "carried out by a physician or through a substance used under the direction of a physician." Anything else that terminates a pregnancy is now defined as illegal abortion - including miscarriages.
This is the 21st century? Could have fooled me.

More at DailyKos

The full text of the bill is here.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Strange thing I learned today (I so love the interwebs! I really do!)

The word "sibling" is not a naturally evolved English word but instead a modern revival of a lost Old English word generally meaning kins-person or relative rather than specifically referring to brothers and sisters.

This popped up from another blogger, who picked it out of a footnote from a book published in 1942:
Sibling is a coined word use by scientists for both brothers and sisters. The English language lacks such a word.
I find this astonishing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Geeky Cooking

I was browsing around for recipes and came across 'Cooking for Engineers', -- simple recipes, fully explained, and definitely written with the engineer in mind.

I am totally enamored of the big charts at the bottom of each recipe, though. They appeal to my geeky sense of process.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Berit, Again

Well, we did follow-up bloodwork on the pink beastie, and her platelet count is so low that our vet advised us to not let her outside without supervision. This happened before Christmas (and for all we know, it has been a constant problem that we only managed to fix for the time she was on steroids. At any rate, she's back on steroids because her platelet count is 5,000. It's supposed to be somewhere between 140-170,000. Not good.

She seems to be fine, which is weird. At a count this low, she is at risk for spontaneous bleeding, which could be very dangerous. So, no romping outside with the blue beastie, and we're trying to keep her quiet and give the meds a chance to work. She rebounded really quickly last time, but we obviously didn't find the cause of the problem. It's an immuno-suppressive issue, at any rate, but all the tests came back as negative, so we don't know what is causing this. It's possible that a year of allergy shots messed up her immune system. Fun, en?

Not quite getting it

This just made me laugh (and then cringe a bit). Methinks they don't really understand medicare or socialism at all. Tea-party FAIL.

Let's test them first

Tom Tancredo (yes, I'm embarrassed to be from his state) wants to bring back literacy tests for voting. You know, the "literacy tests" that were used to bar certain people from voting. Rachel Maddow had the only possible response:
"But I want you to know first, that this is what it was like. You would head down to the courthouse to register to vote, if you dared. In order to register, you‘d face an exam. It was sometimes called a literacy test, but it wasn‘t testing to determine necessarily if you could read or write. If you were black, the test was designed purely to afford a legalistic veneer of justification for denying you your constitutional right to vote.

The questions weren‘t about ABCs. They were—they were questions like this one, from Alabama‘s literacy test in 1965. If a person charged with treason denies his guilt, how many persons must testify against him before he can be convicted? Do you consider yourself qualified to vote in this country? Can you answer that question?

You want to hear it again? If a person is charged with treason—if a person charged with treason denies his guilt, how many persons must testify against him before he can be convicted?

Or how about this one from the same test: In what year did the Congress gain the right to prohibit the migration of persons to the states? Do you know the answer to that one?

Again, these are from Alabama‘s literacy test in 1965. It was applied selectively, of course, to black voters, to keep them from registering.

If you lived in Georgia in 1958, you would have faced questions like this one: Who is the solicitor general of the state judicial circuit in which you live and who is the judge of such circuit? If such circuit has more than one judge, name them all.

How did you do on that one? Or how about this one: What does the Constitution of Georgia provide regarding the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus?

If you wanted to vote in Georgia in 1958, those are the questions you would have to answer. But, of course, not everyone would face those questions. The board of registrars had the sole authority to determine who got asked which literacy test questions and whose answers to those questions rendered them ineligible to vote.

The idea was that black voters weren‘t being denied the right to vote based on race. That would be illegal. No, those voters just couldn‘t pass this literacy test.

This isn‘t the plot of some Kagzo (ph) Klansman gothic short story. This isn‘t a theoretical for first-year law students. This isn‘t some State Department report on some tin pot dictatorship halfway around the world that we can‘t pronounce.

This is American history. This is really, really recent American history—as in this lifetime for a lot of people American history.

And the opening night speech at the national tea party convention this weekend proposed bringing the literacy test for voting back. And that proposal got a warm round of applause
I suggest that the FIRST people to have to pass a "literacy test" should be the ones calling for it. Since they seem to be misinformed bigoted cranks absolutely unaware of history (or uncaring of it), it should be easy for them, right? Right?

I couldn't answer those questions. Could you?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Languages

I've often read about love-languages on my SIL's blog, about the way that people express love and feel loved. I've never read the book, but a recent conversation with my sister about communication and expectations of marriage prompted me to google it and I found an online quick quiz to figure out what "type" you are -- do you value quality time or gifts or supportive words or acts of service as an expression of love? Would you rather get a gift, or have your spouse do laundry and pick up groceries on the way home? Would you rather be told how much you are appreciated, or hugged and snuggled?

I realized that I value quality time and acts of service as being meaningful to me -- filling my car with gas or stopping on the way home to pick up a loaf of bread make me feel loved and secure and appreciated. Bringing me flowers is nice, but I'd rather have the Adorable Husband come home an hour early. It would be difficult if we didn't realize what the other expected or wanted -- and it's definitely got to be difficult trying to figure out what those things are.

I may have to actually pick up the book. Hmph.

Antique Cars

Watch the flickr slideshow carefully...absolutely fabulous!

Not only a great photographer, but.. oh, just watch!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I need a cape!

I have discovered that I have a Superpower. Oh, nothing as exciting as leaping tall buildings or running faster than speeding bullets or invisibility or anything, oh, no.

Nope. My superpower is discovering (or causing, the jury's out on that one) weird and unpredictable problems in computer code, that no one else has seen before.

Every day for the last week, I've found something strange and inexplicable in the application that I'm building. Weird characters show up, things work and then they don't, data disappears at name it, I've been dredging it up in my code.

Hmph. I'd rather be able to burst into flame or hurl lightning bolts.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It took this long?

Everyone has heard the rather bizarre claim that 'vaccines cause autism', which has fostered an almost rabid anti-vaccine movement. It was based on a single study, which has been debunked thoroughly over the last few years as being invalid. Despite the claims of the anti-vac crowd, there is absolutely no, none, zero, zip, nada connection between autism and vaccines.

Well, the Lancet has finally completed disavowed the study and come out a report that the author of the study, Andrew Wakefield, falsified the data and manipulated medical records to make his study give specific results. The study is completely, utterly, wrong. The methodology and data aren't even valid. Wakefield is accused of unethical behavior, on top of it all.

Of course, the damage has already been done. People continue to believe the thoroughly disproven results. The study was flawed from the beginning, but it apparently said something that made True Believers out of a lot of people -- someone to blame, something to point at as a cause for autism. I can only imagine that for parents with children who are autistic, it was something to cling to. But for the thousands of people who refuse to vaccinate their kids? Hey, idiots -- herd immunity only works when 95% of the population is vaccinated...and this ridiculous campaign has dropped that to less than 80% in some areas. Measles is back the US because of this. It's likely the resurgence of Whooping Cough is probably related.

I'm just surprised that it took this long to come out formally against the paper, and sad that for most people, it probably won't make any difference.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Life Lesson Learned

Do not, whilst walking merrily along on the treadmill listening to your ipod, lean down to fix your shoe.