Knitpicking

A science geek and knitter talks about random stuff.

Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Allergies (Or: Mucus, the Scourge of Mankind)

Posted by knitpicking on 23 March 2007

It seems that I have a very responsive immune system. Which I guess is good overall.

Unfortunately, my body cannot distinguish between a malicious bug and ordinary pollen. This is bad because the main ingredient of the air this time of year is pollen. And so, my allergies are incapacitating me.

I just wish I could make my immune system understand that no, pollen isn’t a threat. There’s no need to go Red Alert, Condition One. Besides, what good does it do for my survival if my allergies make me unable to breathe or eat?

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Sidelined by Semantics

Posted by knitpicking on 4 March 2007

Another post about the wacky and infuriating world of US politics.

First Barack Obama, then John McCain get themselves into hot water because they use the term “wasted” to characterize the deaths of soldiers in Iraq. Then the retraction – they meant to use the term “sacrificed” instead.

Let’s look at the definitions:

  • Waste: to consume, spend, or employ without adequate return
  • Sacrifice:the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim

So which term you use should have more to do with your opinion of the war, not whether or not the term has a negative connotation.

The worst part of the semantic sparring is that it distracts us from having a discussion about the things that matter – what we are doing there, what we should do next, etc. You can spend tons of time arguing about “waste” vs. “sacrifice” or “civil war” vs. “sectarian violence”, but nothing is getting done in the meantime.

Sigh.

[Listening to: “L’ Incertitude d’Heisenberg” by Télépopmusik]

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The Asian Tour of Pain

Posted by knitpicking on 2 March 2007

Nine months since the braces went on, and everything is going according to plan, though very slowly.

I’m in the elastic band stage, which supposedly helps line up my bite. The elastics my ortho gives out uses countries to identify the size and strength of the bands, which I guess is useful. I started out with Japan, which seemed uncomfortable at the time, but not too bad. I now realize that Japan is a far nicer place to be than Thailand. Thailand bands are small and extremely strong. It’s not been fun.

I’m glad that ibuprofen is plentiful.

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To Sleep, Or Maybe Not

Posted by knitpicking on 27 February 2007

The thing I really hate about insomnia is that it occurs only between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Any other time, I could fall asleep immediately. So it seems that I can only fall asleep when I’m not allowed to do so.

Fun times.

[Listening to: “Knock ‘Em Out” by Lily Allen]

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Thank God It’s Almost Over

Posted by knitpicking on 6 November 2006

Election season, that is.

I am sick and tired of the incessant campaign commercials where Candidate X claims that his /her opponent is a psychopath who kicks puppies for fun and who, if elected, will cause America to be sucked into the Seventh Circle of Hell. Whereas Candidate X’s election will ensure that your life will be filled with happiness and sunshine and no taxes.

What won’t end tomorrow is the speculation about what the future holds if the Democrats manage to take back at least one of the Houses of Congress. Here’s a hint – it won’t change anything of substance. The government will be just as fucked up next year as it is today. But it may be more entertaining.

[Listening to: “Fly Me Away” by Goldfrapp]

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I Must Be REALLY Dumb

Posted by knitpicking on 29 August 2006

Researchers at Princeton University recently released the results of a study that attempts to explain why tall people earn more money than their shorter peers. Earlier studies have attributed this phenomenon to social discrimination – taller people are perceived as more powerful and authoritative and therefore get better jobs. The new study says it’s more basic – taller people are smarter.

Their findings indicate that as early as age 3 (presumably before societal pressures start affecting the outcome), taller children do better on cognitive tests. Ergo, taller people are inherently smarter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am 4’10”. According to the study, I should be as dumb as a bag of hammers. But I’m going to assume for a moment that I’m somewhat intelligent while I take a critical look at their study.

  • Relative height at age 3 does not necessarily correspond to height in adulthood. I was much higher in height percentile until about age 8. I’ve also known several people who had a massive growth spurt, going from being one of the shortest kids to being one of the tallest kids.
  • On a related note, exactly HOW do you assess the intelligence of a 3-year-old? Three is an age where kids are sticking things up their noses, eating dirt, and consistently putting their underpants on backwards. Not exactly smart behavior to begin with.
  • They included a CYA statement that, since the data included only people in the US and UK, their conclusions “could not be applied to other regions”. Presumably because they have no way of explaining why, for example, the Japanese are kicking our asses in the realm of intelligence, since the Japanese are, on average, shorter than Americans.
  • Finally, and this is a biggie, how does one objectively measure the intelligence of a person? Ask ten people to define “intelligent” and you’ll get ten different answers. And for each answer, you can probably come up with at least one reason why the answer does not necessarily indicate intelligence. If we can’t even agree on what constitutes intelligence, how can we measure it?

On the other hand, the study findings may explain the following conversation I had with a coworker the other day:

Coworker: “Where are you from originally?”
Me: “Little Rock, Arkansas.”
Coworker: “How did you end up here?”
Me: “I went to graduate school here and stayed after I graduated.”
Coworker: “Which school did you go to?”
Me: “Duke.”
Coworker: “Oh, so you ARE smart.”

I love back-handed compliments.

In knitting news, I am getting ready to start a pair of mock-cable socks. Assuming, of course, that I’m not too dumb to count to eight reliably.

[Listening to: “The Pageant of the Bizarre” by Zero 7]

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