Hot Cocoa versus Hot Chocolate: Abomination vs. Life-Giving Tonic

Published on Monday, 02 January 2012

I detest all hot "cocoa" mixes that only require hot water. I was reading the ingredients of one such mix the other day. They are quite interesting: sugar, modified whey, non-fat dry talcum powder, essence of cocoa (observed), vermiculite, partially hydrogenated conceptual art, carriage bolts, and artificial limbs. The sugar-free variety came with an "FDA Drug Facts" sheet. These hot cocoa "treats" are convenient at church social hours and ski lodges where providing a percolator with hot water is much easier than having to provide hot milk.

Medicine that Works...

Published on Monday, 28 November 2011

I was at the drug store today to pick up some vitamin D. Living in the dark, cold north requires a bit of extra vitamin D. My levels are particularly low. The label said that any claims on the vitamins had not been evaluated by the FDA for efficacy in the treatment, prevention, or amelioration of any disease. Most of the vitamins on the shelf had doses that were ridiculously high. Being a relatively unregulated market, how does one determine whether the pills will do anything at all or worse, do something bad to you.

Regarding the Break-in at Ravenclaw

Published on Sunday, 02 October 2011

To the editors, Hogwarts Today Alumni Magazine I am surprised at the indignation going around about how students from Slitherin managed to "break into" Ravenclaw without having someone tell them the answer to the Ravenclaw riddle ("Dark Magic in Ravenclaw, Slitherin students fess up" Daily Prophet, 19 September 2011). 

No side effects—no effects!

Published on Monday, 26 September 2011

I saw a box of tablets at the coop check-out the other day. The "active ingredient" was at a level less than the equivalent of one molecule in Lake Superior. The box proudly proclaimed: "no side effects!" How amazing! A drug that treats exactly and only the ailment for which it was indicated. This means there is a drug out there that is more effective than the immune system itself.  When you have a cold much of the drowsy, low energy feeling you get is due to your immune system combatting the illness. The virus does not cause that feeling itself, your immune system does.

The Odds

Published on Friday, 16 September 2011

Consider this bit of trivia: the average salary of an actor is comparable to the average salary of an accountant; however, few if any accountants are unemployed in their line of work, but few make 6 figure incomes. Almost none make 7 figures. Compare this to actors.

I was going to write something...

Published on Friday, 16 September 2011

Oh, it seemed so clever, but as soon as I got my computer up and running, the thought fell right out of my head. So here's the query: do you know what it was?

Entrance Exams

Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

I wonder if entrance exams with their "one right answer" design tend to have a negative effect on academic research. Do they tend select for people who believe there is one right answer to any question?  Do people who prefer certainty over ambiguity do better on such exams? Much of the research at the academy is also based on winning grant money. What kind of effect on the quality of research might this have?

What makes you so certain?

Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What makes you so certain? Are you sure you have controlled for your confirmation biases? Wouldn't it be wise to double-check just in case? How would you double-check for real if you are already so sure you are right? Consider reading On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton. Certainty is an emotional state whose emergence does not require perfect data.

Emergent Religion

Published on Monday, 18 July 2011

Consider a world where Christianity had died out shortly after the canonical Bible was ratified in the 3rd century. If someone were to find the Bible in 2011 and consider it sacred scripture, what would a faith based on that book be like? Would the values, priorities and worship practices be familiar to us?  Is Christianity defined by the Bible or is the Bible defined by Christianity? Or is it both. If so then is one more dominant than the other?

A response to a housemate inquiry

Published on Sunday, 03 October 2010

When we are advertising for new renters at our house we get some interesting submissions (happily we are at capacity right now). These messages are always from scammers, but responding to them has become a form of artistic expression for me. I am not exactly sure why anyone would ever buy into this. Of course,  greed and lust are pretty good intoxicants.... 

Hi Lisa,