29 February 2008

Vitamin C vs. the common cold: it doesn't help

Today I'm swinging the Hammer of Science at the Nail of Myth.

I have a cold. I think. Or a mild flu. I'm not exactly sure, and it doesn't much matter. It could be a flu without the stomach upset, or a cold w/ a fever on the side. Whatever. People keep asking me if I'm "taking vitamin c" and "drinking orange juice". I give them the benefit of the doubt when they ask if I'm drinking OJ, because it is important to stay hydrated, esp. when you're sick.

This notion of taking vitamin c when you're sick with a cold is complete bullshit and I wish people would stop it. It was mostly popularized by Linus Pauling, who was outstanding at physics and chemistry but strangely short-sighted when it came to vitamin c and the common cold.

There is no scientific proof that taking vitamin c has any effect on the duration or severity of your cold. None. Every now and then someone will release a study that suggests there "may" be a correlation. If Pauling had exercised the same scientific restraint in his language then the current myth wouldn't have spread so far and wide. This widespread ignorance is a pet peeve of mine.

Here's a link to a short explanation of the myth:

Here's a link with a long explanation of the myth:

Here's a link to idiots on the yahoo answers website, who don't have any kind of excuse, because if they can post a (wrong) answer to yahoo they can type 'vitamin c cold' into Google and discover their ignorance:

Here's a study cited by webMD that makes some bullshit claims and proves nothing, although they do close the article with "larger studies are needed to test these findings further", because they acknowledge that testing 12 people, and getting results with 4 (!!) is shite science:

28 February 2008

David Lynch on product placement in films

A few weeks ago I had a video where David Lynch opines on watching movies on your phone. I would link to it here but I'm lazy. Scroll down if you missed it. In a similar vein, here's Lynch talking (briefly) about product placement in films.

27 February 2008


"Snake eats family dog as kids watch"

You're g-damn right it did. I guess if you live in the tropical tropics and you have a small ratlike dog and huge snakes around it's only a matter of time.

I'm not sure why it rules so much but it does. Don't even fight it. I esp. liked that they didn't kill the snake. It was just hanging out, doing what snakes do (eat small, ratlike creatures). No need to kill it. Although a woman threw some plastic chairs at it, to no effect.

Here's part of the report from CNN:

The boy and girl, aged 5 and 7, watched as the scrub python devoured their silky terrier-Chihuahua crossbreed Monday at their home near Kuranda in Queensland state.
The snake was still digesting the dog at the zoo Wednesday. It will soon be moved to the bush, Douglas said.

Photo credit AP / Australian Venom Zoo

26 February 2008

overheard at the DMV

I was supposed to be on an airplane last night, but instead I spent the morning at the DMV. My driver's license expired last week on my birthday (I had a birthday, you may have heard) and I needed to get a new one. No point flying if I can't rent a car. oops.

My experience at the local dmv office wasn't bad; 2 of the 3 people I talked to were nice, and all were helpful. Wait was half an hour, but I brought a book.

While I was there I watched some old people fail their written driver's test. I felt bad because I would probably fail it too. I don't think I would fail the driving portion, though, and judging by the geezer reactions, they were bombing. One old codger asked how long his license was good for. The clerk said five years, and he said, "I won't be around that long." Which was funny.

Photo courtesy the hot dog blog via DDC. I looked for something more topical but then I lost interest.

23 February 2008

le dunk de la mort

Great article about dunking in the newest sports illustrated. It's probably better read online, because then you can youtube and watch all the dunks he writes about while you read. I laughed out loud when I read about Vince Carter's famous one hander over the 7' 2" French guy. The French press named it le dunk de la mort, or "the dunk of death". That may seem a bit strong, but for effs sake, watch that thing again and tell me it's not awesome.

22 February 2008

I didn't know cousin eddie was into working out

Did you catch any of that farce surrounding the congressional hearings on steroids? no? well, you missed out.
For example, congress (Congress?) subpoenaed Cousin Eddie from and some other guy and asked them a bunch of questions. It gave Cousin Eddie a chance to categorically deny using any type of performance enhancing drugs, even though two of his teammates and wife (wife!) used the very same drugs, from the very same guy.

It's a comfort to know that he's got the trailer to go home to.

20 February 2008

birthday wishes

got some good birthday greetings from my peeps this year.

one friend called me at 747 AM to wish me a happy birthday. I was not up yet, but he left a message and said my birthday was an airplane, flying in. I liked that.

i figure i'll make myself a cake this afternoon. gotta have some cake on your birthday.

another friend left this response on my birthday dinner evite:

I should be there. Then again, maybe something better will come along and I'll totally flake out on you guys. Who knows? Who knows what the week has in store? Man I'm excited.

birthdays; or, I make 34 look good

today is my birthday. i'm over it. i am going out to dinner though. I decided that going to dinner w/ friends would be less depressing than sitting at home, being depressed. thanks, friends. and i've been getting lots of calls and emails from people. so that's fun.

many thanks to someecards for the birthday card. i heart someecards.

over the weekend the roommates toilet crapped out (see what I did there?) so I had to get down to home depot and get a new flapper and control valve. I'm versed in the flapper / control valve replacement procedure, so it was pretty easy. Took me about 20 minutes to fix that sh*t (see what I did there?). mostly I just wanted to make some bad puns about it. and it's my birthday. so there.

17 February 2008

Roger Clemens may or may not have taken steroids, says congressman

I spent about 20 minutes of my life watching some of the grandstanding from congress while they alternately berated his rat trainer and sucked off Clemens. Those are 20 minutes I can never get back, and like the Bonfire of the Vanities, they left me doubting that there was any good to be found in the participants.

Because that's how I want my congress spending it's time (and my money): getting to the bottom of this important issue.

Who cares if he took steroids or not? Who cares if he lied about it? He's adamant that he did not, but does he expect people to believe that his two friends took HGH and he didn't? That he got a vitamin shot while they got the real deal?

I'm too lazy to look up the numbers but I do know that Clemens got substantially better with age, and was having outrageously good seasons well after his supposed "peak". There's another player out there that had a similar pattern of success, you might have heard of him (name rhymes with 'carry ponds'). Those two guys should get together, arm wrestle.

16 February 2008

Chris Berman is a jerk: video evidence

There are some videos circulating that show Chris "Boomer" Berman at his very best. Unfortunately they were taken off youtube, but once that kind of thing hits the net you can always find it somewhere else. like so: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1799919

Note that Berman uses NSFW language. Although he's at work. Go figure.

Deadspin emailed the guy that released the videos. His alias is 'ampex2000', which is a nice old-school nod to the corp that invented magnetic tape and the original VCR. (They sold the rights to Sony and, umm, I think we know how that worked out for everyone.)

I have an axe to grind w/ Berman because he thinks he's part of the highlight (any highlight) with his awful ties, worse combover, overwrought delivery and stupid nicknames. What's wrong with subtlety? What happened to Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann? Why hasn't Berman bought a new sport coat since 1985?

Right now they've got Berman hosting some kind of "greatest highlight" bullshit every night. It's similar to "Who's Now?" from last year, only less dumb. That's not saying much, but it's still inane and ridiculous. That's about what you can expect from the four letter.

Memo to Berman: you voice might not croak as much if you didn't pull your head back into your neck like a toad. just sayin.

15 February 2008

good comments really help me out: feedback on the shark post

Had a person stop by and leave a comment on my shark post. It's interesting enough to warrant a post of its own. The author does some interesting research, and he has the best picture of a green sea turtle that I've ever seen. It's much better than my shark photo, maybe because he was actually in the water? pffffffft. overachiever.

OCEANREVOLUTION.org has left a new comment on your post "pity the shark":

And some happy irony...

Roy's son, Christian Scheider, made this video with us when he was a Sophomore in high school.


His motivation was in no small part related to what he perceived as the damage done by the film (Jaws) his father starred in.

We worked on it at Roy's house on Christian's Apple eMac using images from a young ocean leaders retreat held in Baja.

Here's to sons and daughters reversing the damage caused to the earth of by our fathers and grandfathers...


Senior Scientist
Ocean Conservancy

Blog: http://www.wallacejnichols.org

14 February 2008

pity the shark

excellent article from Scientific American about the much-maligned shark and how the danger of shark attack is vastly overstated. Even if you're in the water a lot, you should be afraid of boats and sandholes, not sharks.

photo credit: me. at the sydney aquarium.

full version of article here: http://scitech.blogs.cnn.com/2008/02/13/swift-boating-the-sharks/


– From 2000 to 2005, ISAF reports there were eight domestic shark attack deaths. The International Hunter Education Association reports that 385 U.S. and Canadian hunters were accidentally killed by other hunters in that same time frame.

– The New England Journal of Medicine reported that from 1990 to 2006, there were 16 deaths on American beaches caused by digging sandholes till the sand collapsed, smothering the digger. ISAF counted a dozen U.S. shark deaths in the same period. Clearly, you’d be safer in the water, with the sharks, than you are in your own sandhole.

– Florida is the most prolific state for both boating and shark attacks. Over a two-decade period, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 764 boating-accident deaths in the state. The sharks took four lives in the same years.

– A decade ago, a Consumer Product Safety Commission report tracked vending machine deaths from 1977 till 1995, thirty seven Americans were killed when they got overly aggressive, toppling a vending machine to get a reluctant quarter or cola – an average of about two per year, or twice the number killed by sharks in the US.

- Deer – the very symbol of the terrors of nature – take between 130 and 140 human lives each year – usually
just after they’re in your headlights. The CDC estimates an average of fifteen U.S. deaths per year from

snakebites. But the all-time champion animal nemesis for the human race doesn’t have a scorekeeper, and

will likely never get its own series of movies or saturation news coverage. We don’t know for certain how

many people are killed by mosquito-borne disease but the horrible toll easily reaches the millions each year.

13 February 2008

we didn't do anything like this at my fraternity house

Comparisons to 'frat boys out of control' is giving frat boys a lot of credit. Apparently there was some corruption in the prison system down in Florida. And by "corruption" I mean "drunken softball games followed by orgies". I don't know much about orgies, but I do know from drunk softball, and it's pretty fun. I never imported or sold steroids to give me an edge on the softball field, though. I guess I wasn't trying hard enough. Other highlights, courtesy CNN:

McDonough described a bizarre prison culture among those that ran the system -- one that he says seemed obsessed with inter-department softball games and the orgies after games.

"I cannot explain how big an obsession softball had become," he said. "People were promoted on the spot after a softball game at the drunken party to high positions in the department because they were able to hit a softball out of the park a couple times."

"The connection between the softball and the parties and the corruption and the beatings was greatly intertwined."

The parties and orgies were often carried out at a waterfront house built on prison grounds for a former warden with taxpayer dollars, McDonough said. The house was complete with a bar, pool table and hot tub.

12 February 2008

Knight Rider is coming back; 10 year old boys across the land put down xbox360 controller and prepare for takeoff

Knight Rider is coming back after a 20 year break. They have a new guy and a new car, but I have the blueprints for the old car, so I can rebuild that sh*t as soon as I get my hands on a mid-80's pontiac firebird. hells yeah.

I am not exactly sure how some of the features work. The KI-P-12 Trajectory Guidance System "launches KITT at any angle within 90 degree arc", but I could sure use some of that KI-P-1 Automatic Pilot when i'm driving around town. The CRT monitors are a little dated in this LCD era, but I could set them up so we could play Atari 2600. good times.

11 February 2008

sound the feasting horn!

sure, it's an ad. but I laugh every time.

08 February 2008

Dick Vitale has his voice back, but he still bugs me

Dick Vitale returned to announcing basketball this week. Some people were really excited about it. I am not one of them.

I don't wish him ill. I just don't think he's good at announcing basketball games. He does not provide intelligent analysis; he huffs and he puffs and shouts and manages to say... nothing. Awesome, indeed. The combination of Dickie and Mike Patrick (of Britney Spears fame) is a good example of how far aggressive mediocrity can take you.

Where's the discussion of matchups? Where's an explanation of the offenses and the defenses run to counter them? It's nice when an announcer does some of that work for me. Or you can just scream and yell and never say anything negative about anyone, ever.

07 February 2008

Bob Knight quits on his team, retains position as basketball's biggest asshole

Several sportswriters have pointed out the irony of Bob Knight quitting on his team in mid-season. It's the sort of thing he would ruin a player for, but hey, he's tired. It happens.

It's not a coincidence that Texas Tech was the last place Knight coached. No major program would touch him, and no top-flight recruits would play for him, because he's a bullying asshole. I know he graduated most of his players, and also that he never cheated. So what? That's like being proud of not beating your wife. Idiot.

King Kaufman over on Salon (subscription not required - you may have to click through an advert) wrote a very good article about why Bob Knight is a bully and a hypocrite. It's better than I could do, so here's an excerpt, with an encouragement to read the whole thing for more insight.

For all the talk of an era ending with the last of the tough, old-school coaches walking off into the sunset, Bob Knight had ceased to be relevant years ago. For most of the last 20 years, he's only gotten his name in the papers when he pulled off his trademark move, bullying someone who for whatever reason wasn't in a position to fight back.

The signature moment of this last part of his career was the 1995 press conference he held up for several minutes while he publicly berated some NCAA volunteer for passing along the incorrect information that Knight wouldn't appear. It was vintage Knight: He was whaling on probably the single most powerless person in the building.

05 February 2008

fat tuesday: what are you giving up for lent?

in honor of fat tuesday and ash wednesday and carnival in Rio, here's a picture of the sambadrome when it's raining and empty, followed by a picture from the opposite end when it's crazy and full. first photo was taken from the entrance to the parade ground, with the grandstands up on the left (obscured by van) and right. The shuttered three-story grandstands on the right rent out for $2000 a night, per room, during Carnival. This picture sucks but at this point of our little bus tour I was tired and kind of over it.

For lent this year I decided to quit buying anything but the necessities (food, household goods, etc.). No impulse buys, no new books, no new tools from home depot, no new cd's, no new guitar accessories, no new clothes, etc. Because I don't want to spend the next 40 days sitting home by myself I decided I could spend money going out, but I set a budget. Mainly the focus is no new nonessential material goods. I made a list of essential goods and I think it's fairly conservative. Should be interesting. I'm still not sure if I want to go out and consume at the local mall tonight, buy a bunch of shit before lent starts. I should, because I'm out of books to read, but I think I'll have to settle for a library card. Jesus loves me.

04 February 2008

chainfactor vs. desktop tower defense: welcome to the rest of your afternoon

Are you a chainfactor person, or a desktop tower defense person?

get involved. let me know how you do. I started out as a confirmed DTD person, but chainfactor is growing on me.

chain factor: fun in rows

mmm... addictive desktop dorkout.


"we might get divorced if he keeps playing that game"

my friend bought an xbox360 for her husband this past christmas. it's a good present. I helped her pick out some games. when I asked her if he was playing a lot of Call of Duty 4 she said, "we might get divorced if he keeps playing that game."

she was kidding. kind of.

03 February 2008

david lynch not a fan of watching movies on your iphone / ipod

David Lynch and I agree about this.

I still don't understand Mullholland Drive, but he had the good sense to cast Naomi Watts, so who cares?

Best use of phone as it relates to movies: getting movie times at a local theater.

02 February 2008

is that art? or are you just being a pretentious jackass?

warning: back to back negative posts! and this one is about art (much too highbrow, i know). we'll bring it around to the positive in the next post. promise.

watched Charlie Rose interview Julian Schnabel on the television. they talked a lot about Schnabel's movie the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which is supposed to be excellent. The video interview is not up yet or I would have a screen capture of Schnabel's outfit, which includes yellow-tinted glasses and prominent chest fur.

At one point the conversation turned to Schnabel's new exhibition of his recent paintings. He has taken to painting abstract shapes (if you can call it that) over maps. The maps themselves are often quite beautiful. The painting looks like something my cousin's 2 year old would do, and then his 4 year old would come over and make fun of it because it looks so sh*tty. (kids are mean.)

Abstract art may be similar to jazz; in jazz you have to master common musical form in order to break out of its constraints and limitations. In jazz you express yourself in complex, difficult patterns that often don't lend themselves to casual listening. If you don't master the regular form, then the irregular form is beyond you.

This particular "art" looks more like some bullsh*t that someone vomited onto what used to a very elegant bit of cartography. The only statement Schnabel is making is that he doesn't have the good sense to recognize a beautiful map as a work of art in its own right.

I'll let you know about the movie.

UPDATE - turns out that Mr. Schnabel is a very famous artist who has made 'millions of dollars' for his paintings. You can decide for yourself if they're any good or not. Robert Hughes, a prominent art critic, was not a fan of the man's art or his memoirs, about which he said: The unexamined life, said Socrates, is not worth living. The memoirs of Julian Schnabel, such as they are, remind one that the converse is also true. The unlived life is not worth examining.

01 February 2008

lame television: Smash Lab from discovery channel

I'm traveling on business. when I get back to the hotel I don't have much to do but flip through the channels until I fall asleep. (i don't read because I save my books for when I'm at the airport/on the plane). it usually doesn't take long.

last night I got a chance to review some crap TV. Smash Lab, over on the discovery channel, takes the most popular parts of Mythbusters (the parts where they break stuff) and expands them into a whole show, with a new cast of characters. The new show gets a rating of Fail.

What makes Mythbusters good is that they test all the myths rigorously and scientifically, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness. Jamie and Adam (we're on a first name basis) make a big effort to use the scientific method, they do scale modeling, and they test in the real world. It's legit, or at least a serious attempt at legitimacy.

Smash Lab, on the other hand, are a bunch of idiots trying to break stuff. I haven't seen this much f'ing around on Discovery since they moved the animal sex over to Animal Planet.

Team Smash Lab dropped a car on a bounce house and were surprised when it popped, even though they had made some special valves out of PVC pipe. No scale modeling, no testing, just go for it. Then they built a "shed" to test it against hurricane force winds. They nailed some 2x4's and plywood together, put a door in it, a plywood roof, and blew it over with some big fans. It pretty much exploded, but since they are idiots and didn't even try to build it to code, what did that prove? It proved they are assholes that don't know anything about construction. Or science. They went on in this vein for the entire hour.

It is neither good science nor good television. I don't recommend it.

aside - the "engineeer" Chuck is probably a good guy in real life, but he seems like a douche on TV. Free costume tip to Chuck: if your button-up shirt stretches across your soft white underbelly that means it is too small.

special thanks to uncov for the photo. that blog is no longer current, but the fail photos will live on forever.