Diet Update, July 23


So… I’m down to 259lbs! That’s from a start two weeks ago at 267.5. I know this pace of weight loss can’t continue, but it’s nice while it lasts. If I can settle into a nice, easy, two lbs a week, I’ll be happy.

You See, I Learned Something Today…


Shirley Sherrod is now being apologized to left and right… well, mostly left. There are some on the right who have been bitching about the lousy treatment she received, too, and that’s good.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this, and that lesson is “get your fact straight before making a decision.” Especially a very public one. Now the White House, Tom Vilsack and the NAACP are having to apologize for not knowing what the hell they were talking about.

You know, if you get the chance you should find and watch the entirety of Sherrod’s video. It’s actually quite fascinating. She strikes me as a woman I’d love to sit down and talk with. She’s clearly lead an interesting life and hearing her talk about that and the situations she’s lived through is really interesting.

Oh, and on a side note, can we please find a way to describe her mistreatment other than “thrown under a bus”? Yeesh.

It’s Too Darn Hot!


Currently here in Phoenix it’s in the low hundreds. Currently in my apartment it’s in the low 90′s. This is because my AC is out.

You know, I love living in Phoenix, but I hate the summer and I really hate it when my air conditioning isn’t working. :(

Subtle Satire


Also, why is there a silent “b” in “subtle”? I’ll wonder that rather than ponder the fact that many Christians would nod along with this video and say, “That’s absolutely right!”

WARNING: M Night Shal… Shama… Shul… That One Guy… is Still Making Movies!


You have been warned.

Actually this could have some real potential, but it would be much more interesting to just show only what’s going on inside the elevator. Still, it could be good. I’m willing to give it a chance.

Diet Update


So I forgot to post this the other day, but my diet is continuing nicely. So far I’m down 4.5 pounds! Hey, it’s not much but I’ll take what I can get.

I read something the other day about a mental form of extinction. I can’t find the link to it, so forgive me there, but it was a fascinating read. Basically the author talked about how our brains work, especially in the context of breaking bad habits and addictions. Basically your brain gets hard-wired to anticipate the reward sensation one gets from drugs, booze, food, etc. When it doesn’t get that, it can adapt at first. But then as you get more and more distance between you and whatever the reward item was, the more paranoid your brain gets. Finally just as you’re about to kick the habit, it makes on last effort to get you to do it again. If you can make it past that point, you’ll likely be ok.

I’ve definitely noticed this in my own experience, and now that I know it’s out there, I’ll know what to look for. I’ll also know that once I feel that strong desire, it means I’m almost past the badness. Knowledge is power, eh? :)

Now an Excuse to Visit Missouri


My employer is headquartered in Springfield, MO, and has plans to fly me out there for training at some point. It was supposed to happen in about ten days, but sadly I have to remain in town to be close to my financial aid situation. Apparently there’s some sort of counseling and stuff they have to put me through.

Nevertheless, I’ve found an excuse to visit Springfield all on my own! Turns out there’s going to be a convention of skeptics there at what’s being called Skepticon 3. Admission is free! The hotel is a few bucks a night, but nothing too severe and the guest list includes PZ Myers and the great James Randi! That last one alone is enough to make me wet my knickers with excitement.

So I think I might well go.

Homeopathy: Use Your Dilution


Ripped from xkcd.com!

I have an idea for how to manage your budget. It’s a very simple idea and bound to work. Here’s what you do: take your money and divide it in half. Keep one half and toss the other half into a fire. Then do it again with the half you kept. Repeat this process thirty times. Say that you started with $10,000. After thirty times of this, you’d wind up with 0.00001862 dollars but, here’s the amazing part, your spending power would be through the roof!

Or better yet, say that you wanted to build a bomb. Now a normal explosives-type person would start with, say, 100 lbs of fertilizer and 100 gallons of fuel oil. But, ah! I know a way to make that bomb even more effective. Dilute both of those with water until you have only the merest trace of the explosive, say several parts per trillion. Then you shall have the mightiest bomb in the world!

Oh, here’s the best example of all! Take some sort of beneficial medicine and dilute it with water. Then dilute that water. Then dilute that water. Repeat this thirty or so times until you end up with something that’s 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999% water. At that point you should have one amazingly powerful medicine indeed! Hey, it worked out when Harry Lime did it, right?

All of this is what we get when we do budgeting, explosives and importantly medicine using homeopathic principles. They’re part of what some people call “alternative medicine”, but what I simply call “utter bullshit”.

For those who don’t know, homeopathic “medicine” involves taking something that can be effective and diluting it however many times. Somehow this makes the medicine in question stronger, though I have no idea how that’s supposed to work as anything other than a placebo.

Needless to say, removing most of the active ingredient in some sort of medical treatment is not the best way to make use of said ingredient. That anyone would think otherwise completely astounds me.

What’s even more astounding is that this “medical practice” actually has some credibility within various groups. It’s even been covered by the National Health in the UK, though that may change thanks to some action by people who are actually, you know, doctors and stuff.

You know, I was going to turn this into a big, thousand word rant against homeopathy. I was going to provide a lot of facts and figures backing up the notion that it’s something very stupid that doesn’t actually work. But then I read something from this article in Wikipedia, and I think I’ll just wind up this rant of mine by quoting the passage in question, which I think tells you everything you need to know about homeopathic “medicine”. It gives you some examples of how much of the allegedly beneficial product you get after various levels of dilution.

Critics and advocates of homeopathy alike commonly attempt to illustrate the dilutions involved in homeopathy with analogies. The high dilutions characteristically used are often considered to be the most controversial and implausible aspect of homeopathy.

Hahnemann’s joke: 1 bottle of poison in Lake Geneva

Hahnemann is reported to have joked that a suitable procedure to deal with an epidemic would be to empty a bottle of poison into Lake Geneva, if it could be succussed 60 times.

1 Pinch of salt in the Atlantic Ocean

Another example given by a critic of homeopathy states that a 12C solution is equivalent to a “pinch of salt in both the North and South Atlantic Oceans”, which is approximately correct.

1/3 of a drop in all the waters of the Earth

One third of a drop of some original substance diluted into all the water on earth would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C.

Duck liver 200C in the entire observable Universe

A popular homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C dilution of duck liver, marketed under the name Oscillococcinum. As there are only about 10^80 atoms in the entire observable universe, a dilution of one molecule in the observable universe would be about 40C. Oscillococcinum would thus require 10^320 more universes to simply have one molecule in the final substance.

Swimming pool

Another illustration of dilutions used in common homeopathic remedies involves comparing a homeopathic dilution to dissolving the therapeutic substance in a swimming pool. One example, inspired by a problem found in a set of popular algebra textbooks, states that there are on the order of 10^32 molecules of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool and if such a pool were filled with a 15C homeopathic remedy, to have a 63% chance of consuming at least one molecule of the original substance, one would need to swallow 1% of the volume of such a pool, or roughly 25 metric tons of water.

30C: 1 ml in 1,191,016 cubic light years

Yet another illustration: 1 ml of a solution which has gone through a 30C dilution is mathematically equivalent to 1 ml diluted into a cube of water measuring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres per side, which is about 106 light years. Thus, homeopathic remedies of standard potencies contain, almost certainly, only water (or alcohol, as well as sugar and other nontherapeutic ingredients).

I think that sums it up completely. Homeopathic “medicine” is really stupid and just doesn’t work.

The Vaccine Song


Enjoy!

Hooray for Argentina!


They’ve really come a long way down in Argentina since the dark days of Peron and his cronies. Now they’ve become the first country in South America to legalize gay marriage. This now means that in Canada, Argentina, Mexico City and five US states, gays can marry, plus a few locations elsewhere. Here’s a handy graph from Nate Silver.

The weird spike is caused by California legalizing and then unlegalizing it.

Anyhow, this is certainly wonderful progress! It’s not everything and it certainly isn’t enough, but for now it’s pretty damn great!

Oh, and for something less great, yet morbidly amusing, check this on the DADT policy.

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