Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Common Cold is an Abomination Unto Nuggan

So I'm sick. It's not that bad. It's mostly a very sore throat (complete with lymphatic hyperplasia in the back of my throat) with some minor chest congestion and some sinus drainage. So why bother writing about it?

Well, in case the 2 people who might actually read what I write don't know, I'm a recent...convert. I pretty much poopoo all "herbal" remedies. However, just before Christmas, my MD recommended trying some Sambucol. Sambucol is elderberry extract. Some very, very (did I mention very?) limited studies suggest that Sambucol is effective in reducing the duration and severity of influenza when taken within 24-48 hours of the onset of symptoms, comparable to tamiflu. That's no small claim, and hasn't been backed up or disproven by any good studies yet. In addition, it has been reported that it also helps with colds. Notice the passive voice, a common tactic when trying to pass one over on people. I don't know who reported it, or in what study, or was it just anecdotal.... However, being 4 days before Christmas, I decided to give it a shot, even though my skepticism protested mightily when I shelled out $13 for something like 2 oz of syrup.

I wouldn't be writing this if it didn't seem to work. I started getting symptoms on Thursday night. I took it, and I was symptom-free by Wednesday. No big deal? Actually, it is. I'm the type of person that gets over a "7-10 day" cold in something like 3 weeks. I don't know why, but I've always been like that. Every time I've read about how you get over colds in 7-10 days, my first thought is, "7-10 days my ass..."

There have been a couple of colds going around the office since then. I've gotten a minor sore throat during their spread, started the Sambucol, and I never really got sick. Minor throat irritation is as far as it went.

So this time, I ignored the sore throat. I didn't think it was a virus. Everything is yellow because of pollen, and I do react mildly to it, though I don't suffer like most people. I just blamed that for the slight scratchiness in my throat. I started to notice something was irritating me late Saturday. When I got up Sunday, it wasn't gone, and by Sunday night, I decided to start the Sambucol. Monday, still a sore throat, and I noticed the bumps in my throat when I got home from work. Today I went to the doctor and tested negative for strep.

I kept saying that I was going to start keeping track of my Sambucol use and results, making it a little less anecdotal, though admittedly the sample size is still only one. So here we are. I am sick. Like I said, it's still just mostly a sore throat, but I'm keeping track of the duration of the symptoms this time, good results or bad. I have no agenda except for my intense dislike of sickness, though I wonder if I should buy some stock....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Florida primary is an abomination unto Nuggan

A brief history of the 2008 Florida primary mess:

FL Legislature: We're having our primaries early. Yay!
DNC to FL Legislature: You do that, and you can go fuck yourself.
FL (D) Legislators: Wait, we don't want to fuck ourselves.
FL (R) Legislators to (D) Legislators: Go fuck yourselves.
DNC to FDP: Hold your own primaries, or you can go fuck yourself.
FDP to DNC: Go fuck yourself.
DNC to FDP: Go fuck yourself.
(D) Presidential Candidates to FL voters: Go fuck yourselves. Oh, and give us money.
Federal Court to Bill Nelson: Go fuck yourself.
FL voters: We voted. Yay!
DNC to FL voters: Go fuck yourselves.
DNC to FDP: Take a mulligan, or you can go fuck yourself.
FDP to DNC: Go fuck yourself.
DNC to FDP: TBD, but I'm willing to bet it's something to the effect of "Go fuck yourself."

Fuck it, I'm not voting for president.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Proselytizing is an Abomination unto Nuggan

So someone from some local church came around the neighborhood today. I have no idea which. I tossed the flyer out before looking at it. Anyway, they approached me in the parking lot. Normally, I just say no thanks and close the door, but I was walking the dog, and they didn't take my "you'd just be wasting paper" at face value. They had to ask why. I was willing to let it go, but no, they wanted to talk, so I humored them.

Do these people EVER have any new ideas? Oh, wait, they're religious, of course they don't. The last new idea the Christians had was around 2000 years ago. I got the gamut of apologia. I got the "if you see a chair in the woods, would you assume evolution" crap, irreducible complexity, equating evolution with abiogenesis and the big bang. The false dichotomy of if Jesus was in the tomb, he's human, if not, divine. A complete lack of understanding of the burden of proof. Did you know that the Bible has never been proven wrong? And there are no contradictions. No, of course not.

Come back when you have an argument, morons.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

UFO Hunters is an Abomination unto Nuggan

So in another grand display of pop pseudo-science, the History Channel and/or SciFi has launched a new series entitled "UFO Hunters."  I caught an episode tonight on the History Channel.  However, it's advertised on SciFi, so who knows who's responsible. It got so ridiculous, I had to take notes.

They were investigating the Maury Island Incident.  The story goes that 2 weeks before Roswell, a number of doughnut-shaped craft were flying and one was starting to have trouble.  It ejected some molten slag-like material which landed on some guy's boat, killing his dog, and breaking his son's arm.  It then recovered, and the UFO's flew off.  Some time later, 2 Air Force intelligence officers come to investigate, get the material from the boat guy, and on their way back, their B-25 crashed.

The fisherman or whatever was very specific about where he was, so they go to see if they can find some of this slag.  They had a search area of about 6000 sq. ft.  They had one guy scuba diving, and he picks up some sand samples, and a few rocks, one of which somewhat fit the description of the supposed slag.  I thought it looked like igneous rock myself.  

Then they went to the plane crash site.  They got some soil samples, some pieces of wreckage, and went home.

The official story was that an engine fire brought down the plane.  The left wing came off before the crash.  The 2 survivors said that there was a fire that spread so fast that it was impossible to think of putting it out.  They spent most of the show trying to "prove" that the unidentified material caused the plane to crash. 

So the samples come back to the lab.  They're examined.  What I thought looked like igneous rock was....igneous rock (and I ain't no geologist neither).  The soil samples showed evidence of a hot fire.  The fuselage pieces showed evidence of a hot fire.  

So their "evidence" led one of them to make a wild-assed claim that the plane's fuel couldn't create a fire that hot.  Um...did he not watch 2 towers fall down because of a fire caused by kerosene (err...I mean "jet fuel")?  

Then, they start theorizing about the cause of the crash, making the "slag" culpable of course.  They showed that a strong magnet could interfere with a relay.  Then they showed that an overloaded circuit would burn up.  Then they showed that some unidentified material that they simply identified as "slag" would burn at 4000 degrees, and that would melt an aluminum (melts at 1200 degrees) fuselage.  So if the slag was highly magnetic, it could have tripped a relay that overloaded a circuit, that ignited the slag that melted through the fuselage.  Now that thar' am sum gud siense.  

Memorable quotes (as best as they can be remembered):  

(At the plane crash site) "Right under our feet could be the very first physical evidence of UFO's"

- Bill Birnes, J.D.  Publisher of UFO Magazine since 1986.  

You know, I think I'd have found a new occupation after the first 20 years of no evidence, much less the lack of evidence since the craze started in 1947 or so.

"There is no evidence of extraterrestrial involvement, but nothing that disproves it either."  

-Ted Acworth, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering Design, obviously not understanding how science works, or trying desperately to keep a job.  

You know Ted, my personal theory is that it was a dragon in need of some Imodium, but couldn't quite make it to the little dragon's room.  Do you have any evidence that disproves that?  I seriously hope that you were forced to say that, because a Columbia and Stanford-educated and MIT employed professor such as yourself should know better. That, or I'm really glad I didn't get into MIT.

As an aside, please pardon the weird spacing. The text doesn't seem to wrap correctly, so I put in some hard returns.

Blogging is an Abomination unto Nuggan

From Wikipedia: Nuggan is the locally worshipped monotheistic and omnipotent God of Borogravia, but elsewhere he is known as the God of Paperclips, Correct Things in the Right Place in Small Desk Stationery Sets, and Unnecessary Paperwork. His holy writ (the Book of Nuggan) is a Living Testament, into which more material is added on a regular basis. All believers regularly add pages to the ring binder Appendices, which then eventually fill with more commandments, usually Abominations unto Nuggan. Among his ever-growing list of Abominations are cats, the colour blue, Dwarfs, oysters, mushrooms, chocolate, garlic, babies, cheese, the smell of beets, ears, jigsaw puzzles, and rocks. He is now dead because belief has switched to his abominations, rather than the god himself.

Small Print:  Nuggan is a creation of Terry Pratchett in the Discworld universe.  I am in no way affiliated with Terry Pratchett, except as a fan.  You should read the book Monstrous Regiment for more background on Nuggan.  In fact, you should buy and read all of Terry Pratchett's books.  What are you waiting for?!  Illiteracy is an Abomination unto Nuggan!