I sure hope the afterlife has bubblegum

The Earth bids farewell to Rowdy Roddy Piper.

In Closing: I have a problem with the fact that a night in jail can be a death sentence; the TPP is still out there; the NSA is scaling back; Too Big To Fail; the other lion; who the hell are the parents who make it necessary to say this??; the same guys who say kids under 2 must never see a television running and grocery carts are evil want to be in a tizzy that doctors are not doing the nurse’s job; can’t kill the beast; soybean oil.

“Did you see that ludicrous display last night?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the networks would set their science fiction shows in the near future, so it’s obvious the science is made up?

Ok, I confess I watched the premiere of CSI Cyber last night. I also confess that I was expecting to watch for the heckling value.




About the only things I’m willing to believe about the show are a) the FBI has (or should have) a cyber crimes division b) it’s possible to develop a code analysis tool that puts the bad stuff in red. Oh, and a Toyota Camry can’t float. Please note that although they lamented the fact that “it would take too long to brute force that long password (so obviously we feds just have to be able to bypass things things, you know, for the children),” they had a team member who used logic to figure it out. Also note that the existence of a back door in another system is what allowed the original crime to happen.

Also, ask yourself why you need your babycam (among other things) to be on the internet.

In Closing: most kids aren’t whisked away by strangers, no matter what you might see on TV; guess how many terrorists the NSA “collect all the calls” program has caught? ZERO.

It’s time for Things I Learned This Semester!

That’s right, another semester is over! If you’re curious about things I’ve learned in the past, please enjoy some links to other posts. So let’s get going with the latest revelations:


  • Eventually, the staff in charge of cleaning bathrooms will notice the graffiti on the back of the bathroom stall door.
  • The kind of high school student who takes college classes is motivated to succeed.
  • An alarming number of undergraduates don’t even know there’s a difference between viruses and bacteria. Come on people, take the whole run of antibiotics and never take somebody else’s meds.
  • Parking on campus gets easier after midterms.

Child Psych:

  • Because of a quirk of how children learn language, most children can relate to Ramona Beasley or Amelia Bedelia misunderstanding what they are told.
  • We adults might not like to think about it, but children are aware of sexual issues much earlier than puberty. Put CCSD’s issues in context.
  • The most messed up thing I have ever read for a class — any class — is the story of David Reimer.


  • I knew that “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. I didn’t know this was mathematically provable. Go ahead and plug some numbers into a calorie calculator and an activity calculator. You can eat a lot more calories than you can possibly burn in a day!
  • The Food Pyramid is gone, and good riddance. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, and don’t worry too much about grains.
  • You don’t have to pay Carl Daikeler to put together a workout and diet plan for you, but it’s better than what many people would put together for themselves.
  • A lot of people apparently take Nutrition as an easy class.


  • In a college Spanish class, there are likely to be one or two people who speak Spanish ok but want to learn better grammar and spelling.
  • A Spanish professor from Spain and a Spanish professor from Central America have some fundamentally different ways of doing things.
  • Public speaking is more difficult in a foreign language.
  • Spanish doesn’t actually have a “past tense.” Instead, they have a “preterite” that serves the same function.
  • Don’t be afraid of the Hispanic grocery store. Odds are very good that the employees you’re likely to encounter are bilingual.


  • Fun and danger in a chemistry lab often go together. It’s important to have a good lab partner and follow directions.
  • The chemical reactions that let antacids work often create gas. If you know how to do the math, you can figure out exactly how much acid you’re neutralizing and exactly how much gas you’ve burped.
  • Some guy actually built a periodic table.
  • Even though the pH scale familiar to swimming pool owners goes from 0 to 14, a pH of less than 0 is possible. This guy won a Nobel Prize for it.

That’s it for today. I’m skipping the closing bits. Have a great weekend!

Shorties Academy

One last thing on Microbiology: We have perfectly good vaccines that prevent deadly diseases. Use them!

Freakin NSA: please, help yourself to the links.

Can you feel the love tonight: A wolf falls in love.

This is apparently a thing: Maybe I should have waited until Caturday, but heck, enjoy some Catios.

TIL: Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt — which means he is of Old Money. And that’s not even the most interesting thing about him. He was a model as a boy, and a CIA intern for a couple summers.

Radley is Back: And he reminds us that cops (and others) have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

Politics as Usual: Words of wisdom for Republicans and Democrats.

Study proves fruits and vegetables are good for you: duh.

Let’s end happy: A nice news story with a happy ending and a pretty picture.

A Weighty Subject

Ok, I know it’s February. Those of you that are sticking to your plans to do something towards making yourself healthier this year, good on you.

Somebody accidentally put The Truth in a research article:

The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar.

Here’s the abstract; here’s related commentary. Among the findings are that 71% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from added sugars and about 10% of American adults get 25% of their calories from added sugars — not naturally occurring sugars like you’d find in a wide variety of foods, but added sugar that is only there because somebody put it there. All this sugar “has been linked to the development of high blood pressure, increased triglycerides (blood fats), low HDL (good) cholesterol, fatty liver problems, as well as making insulin less effective in lowering blood sugar.” Further, in the words of one of the authors, “Added sugars do one of two things — they either displace nutritious foods in the diet or add empty calories.”

Now what is that thing I’ve said before? Oh yes: “every weight loss diet that works demands that you sharply limit — if not completely eliminate — added sugars from your diet.”

Gee, do you suppose this could at least partly explain the obesity epidemic?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only weighty research that’s come out this week. It turns out that many parents don’t see overweight children for what they are! In fact, some of them think their normal weight boys are too skinny! This is actually a “review article“, which means they looked at the results of a whole bunch of other research studies (69 of them, in this case). It doesn’t take yet one more study to show that if Mom and Dad don’t see Junior’s weight as a problem, they aren’t going to do anything about it.

Cut the sugar: don’t even buy candy, cookies, cake, or sugary sodas. Take a realistic look at your kids, and then yourself. Maybe it’s time for more veggies and less of everything else.

In Closing: Affordable Care Act; Plague; your dose of NSA, privacy, spying, Snowden, and related links; Stray Dog Strut; $0.77; I think they like the status quo of cheap exploitable workers who will never be able to vote against them; poverty; and preventing unwanted pregnancy prevents abortions. Who knew!

No Reason to Subscribe to Fortune

Let’s cut to the meat:

[I]f America fails to enact historic, structural reforms in spending, an entirely new source of revenue will be needed. And it’s likely to be enacted in haste and near-panic, as the only option to forestalling a crisis. “The gap between revenues and outlays will be simply too large,” says J.D. Foster, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a former budget official under President George W. Bush. “Three points of GDP need to be closed to make budgets sustainable. Either government spending gets back near where it used to be, or we’ll need an completely new type of tax.”

The new levy will need to be big, so big that the most probable choice is a European-style value-added tax or VAT. That looming revenue machine is the phantom in the room, the tax that’s still invisible to most Americans, but that threatens precisely the group that’s supposed to emerge from all the deal-making as the Great Unthreatened, our middle class.

Now then, let me explain why a VAT — particularly a hastily enacted VAT — is absolutely not going to happen. It’s called the 16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Congress has two ways of taxing us. The first is a tax based on the number of people in the state. It should be obvious that it’s not entirely fair to make your tax bill based on state population without regard for your ability to pay (it seemed like a good idea in the 18th century), so the 16th Amendment had to be passed to make income tax legal. I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar, but I don’t see a damn thing in the Constitution or Amendment 16 that makes a national sales tax legal.

Anybody who wants a VAT had better start working on an amendment to the Constitution. That cannot be done in haste.

This article is supposed to scare you and I into insisting on austerity rather than implement this improbable, middle class “crushing” tax. Heaven forbid we should raise additional revenue through higher taxes on the wealthy at the rates they were under Reagan, or Nixon, or heaven forbid Eisenhower (all “conservative” Republicans of their day). Nope, easier to frighten you into giving up the things your taxes have paid for: well maintained roads; safe water coming out of your tap and safe food available at your local grocer; police and fire services; public schools that make sure businesses can hire literate employees anywhere in the nation; a minimal retirement income you already paid for. Nope, gotta cut back somewhere.

In Closing: scientific method suggests that when your experiment doesn’t work, you change the hypothesis; what a sleeze; let’s not lock kids up in solitary; wealth gap grows; agreed; women will die because their parents are afraid they will think sex is ok; I find it hard to believe that’s cost effective; “Just how many female-headed single-parent families with two children under 10 are there in the United States making $260K/year, anyway?”; and wouldn’t that be a waste.

Now see, this is what I was talking about


Just the other day, I was mentioning that a weight loss diet should include avoiding most food that comes out of a box. I did not yet know that this abomination of a product existed. Now, pay special attention to the fact that this “Beef Stroganoff” includes a “creamy cheese sauce” that is “made with real cheese.” Let’s just leave aside for the moment the potential nastiness of cheese that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Here’s the ingredient list to Paula Deen’s Stroganoff recipe:

  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
  • House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles

Notice something? No cheese. The can of soup is suboptimal but alas almost standard in American casserole cooking. Oh look, here’s a similar recipe from the Campbell’s Soup Company!

Here’s what Betty Crocker thinks goes into Stroganoff:

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (2 1/2 cups)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups Progresso® beef flavored broth (from 32-ounce carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 cups hot cooked egg noodles

Hmm, no cheese there either. Points to Betty for using broth as the base for the sauce.
Ok, what about Epicurious:
  • 1 2 1/2-pound piece beef tenderloin, well trimmed, meat cut into 2x1x1/2 inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 pound small button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup canned beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

Ok, crème fraîche instead of sour cream. Still, no cheese.

And just to round out the entries, a less Americanized version:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, sliced into thin 2-inch-long strips
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Pinch dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces white wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Hey, you know what’s missing from that recipe?? Paprika! Ok, just kidding the answer is cheese.

In fact, if you look at the Wikipedia article on Stroganoff, you’ll find sour cream mentioned 5 times and cheese mentioned zero times. Anybody who eats this boxed concoction and then orders the real thing in a restaurant is going to have a big surprise! Whatever this stuff in the box might be, the one thing I am sure it won’t be is Beef Stroganoff. Heck, I’m not really sure it’s food.

In Closing: assassination; special; chicken; payrolls; and FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH!


Introducing, from Toyota City, Japan, weighing in at 4100 pounds:

She replaces the Yellow Beast.

The Sadness of Aurora: I’m not going to dwell on this sickening mess but I will say it’s a tragedy; here’s a professional opinion on how to cope. They’re still setting off bombs in the guy’s apartment. Can anybody reasonably argue that a guy who was improvising explosive devices in the kitchen would have been stopped by stricter gun control laws? “Huh, I guess if I can’t buy the assault rifle legally, I’ll just have to call off the massacre!” Maybe the solution is to ban unnatural hair colors. Here’s the money quote from Brilliant Jill:

The other aspect of this evolving story that leaped out at me is that a guy who is described by everyone who knew him as being ferociously intelligent ended up working at a McDonald’s after getting this honors degree in neuroscience. With all the talk we hear from Barack Obama on the stump about education, and about science education, we are still a nation in which an honors science graduate can’t find a job and ends up slinging hamburgers. There aren’t any reports about how much, if any, college debt Holmes ended up with, but when you live in a society where the president preaches about excellence in science but where science has no value in the job market, it’s easy to imagine someone deciding to pursue a Ph.D. and then deciding it’s all bullshit and might as well go out in a blaze of glory.

In Closing: the beat goes off; she took care of it herself; American Unexceptionalism; White House Garden; and give a child a camera.

Is the 50 State Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Dead?

It sure looks that way!

The California Attorney General has pulled out of the settlement talks and plans to run her own investigation! I wouldn’t be surprised if the New York Attorney General followed, since he‘s already talked about investigating on his own, and says he’s looking forward to talking with her.

For that matter, since Nevada‘s Attorney General has taken Bank of America to court for (allegedly) not abiding by a 2009 agreement on foreclosures and foreclosure fraud, it would make sense for her to join the party as well.

In Closing: The D Word; I miss the old days too; I guess they were in the building so that makes them accessories?; Occupy Wherever (like, say, Vegas); yes, mostly; about time somebody called out this BS; mechanically challenged; hell no!; and Happy October.


I’m going to start by saying the only thing I intend to say about politics today: if are an American adult and you didn’t vote in Tuesday’s elections, I have no desire to hear any of your opinions about politics, the law, or the economy. You had your opportunity to make your voice known,  even if it was to vote for “none of the above.” Got that? Now get lost.

Now that that’s out of the way!

This week I’ve been collecting stories that just make you say “huh.” Like the newly found San Diego to Tijuana drug tunnel, complete with lights, ventilation, and a rail system! You know, if pot were legal and regulated, not only would this stuff have come into the country in a relatively safe truck, it would have generated taxes and tariffs. As a bonus it would be easier to keep it out of the hands of kids because the nice lady at 7-11 is actually going to check IDs. It would also cut the head off Mexican drug violence. (Funny, you heard a lot less about American gangsters after prohibition was repealed).

Elsewhere, CNN took it upon themselves to point out that cat costumes, Starfleet T-Shirts, teeny tiny miniskirts, blankets, evening gowns, and swimsuits are not appropriate attire for a job interview. Oh Really??

Another good one was USA Today informing us that kids who use “electronic media at night” sent an average of 34 texts or emails, and were often woken at night by calls or texts. Not surprisingly, they “may have mood or learning problems during the day….” Do you think??

But by far my favorite is the FBI manhunt for a couple involved in a Ponzi scheme. They allegedly defrauded a dozen investors of $3,000,000. Now here’s the strange part: the man met several of their victims while in prison. Now, would you take investment advice from a guy who was in prison? Apparently some people would.

In Closing: immaculate conception of snakes; the Great Wall of Croatia; T-Shirts for travelers; disaster coloring books; on unemployment and interest rates; shades of grey; JP nails it; amazing cure-all proven in study after study; Happy NaBloPoMo; the damage doesn’t look as bad from out here; and Samurai Reformer.