May 08 2011

Here’s What I’ve Read Online This Week

Best Mothers of the Animal Kingdom - I’m really glad I’m not an octopus.

The Beauty and the Bartender - a dating service tale with a heart-warming twist.

How to make cheap wine taste better  – knowledge is free.

A lost girl remembered - an excerpt and follow-up from The Poisoner’s Handbook.

The Costs of Not Vaccinating - the story of a 2008 measles outbreak in Tucson.  

Parasites, boogers, and garlic - oh, and don’t scratch.

Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air - Yes, mostly. The literature review beginning on p. 5 of the pdf names a book I now want to read – Expert Political Judgment. The best part of the study begins on page 17 with descriptions of the 26 columnists and types of predictions they made. While the numbers make some of them look good, the descriptions lead me right back to the hot air conclusion.

Ten Peeves About Greenies

Feb 23 2010

Henrietta Lacks, Immortal

Tag: books,History,non-fiction,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 5:18 pm

It is the vitality of Henrietta Lacks and her descendants that captured my imagination while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

It’s just a darned good story and it pushes all my “I want to read that” buttons – lively characters, science, mystery, public policy and politics, genealogy, plus a few I’ve probably not yet identified.

When you finish a book with a feeling you know some of the characters, and wishing you could visit further with them, you know it’s been worth your time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s just that good.

Jan 09 2010

Elvis Has Left The Building

Tag: History,music,nostalgia,Shreveport/LouisianaDonna B. @ 3:47 pm

Of course, I’m a day late in acknowledging what should have been Elvis’ 75th birthday.  I’m always late.

Jim at My Bossier has a short, sweet tribute that reminds me why I originally thought Elvis was a fine and talented performer. It’s a clip of two songs from 1954 sang on KWKH’s Louisiana Hayride show. (That’s the 2nd clip.)

The first clip is of the first time the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was used, from the same radio program a few years later.

Aug 21 2009

Cultural Changes And Health

Tag: health,HistoryDonna B. @ 9:03 pm

Finally, the appendix gets respect.

And we learn that a system that sees its need reduced just might cause problems. It’s odd to think that because we have learned sanitation techniques that we are underutilizing our immune system so that it attacks something else that it would have ignored previously because something more dangerous was there.

This is just so interesting on so many levels and analogies can just fly off the shelf.

But it makes sense. Haven’t we all read about the absolutely horrific (to our modern standards) sanitation was hundreds of years ago? I have often wondered how anyone survived. Now it’s possible to think their appendix was doing great things for them.

Now I’m wondering just what benefits I’m not receiving from not having a gallbladder and tonsils that were removed because they “might” cause me trouble rather than because they were.

Aug 14 2009

Mulch For The Tree Of Liberty

Tag: guns,History,humor,Responsibility,wordsDonna B. @ 10:56 am

Mulch for The Tree Of Liberty

unidentified, first-time shooter trying out various handguns

UPDATE: What does mulch do?

  • Retains water
  • Inhibits weed growth
  • Moderates temperature
  • Prevents erosion

Jul 22 2009

A Comparison of Conservative and Liberal Thought

Tag: History,politicsDonna B. @ 10:47 am

The Liberal

A month or so ago, I got involved in several discussions over on ScienceBlogs in which conservatives were maligned rather harshly by other commenters. So I asked one of them to define what he meant by “conservative” and he directed me to his blog’s Ideology archives.

Obviously some of the entries are simply political snark and Coturnix of A Blog Around The Clock is a prolific blogger. He refers to George Lakoff’s books, particularly Moral Politics, very often. I haven’t read that book. After having read so much of Coturnix’s writing about it, I’m tempted, but then wonder if I’d just be bored.

I’ve chosen what I hope are representative posts of this one liberal’s idea of conservatism. Note that neither the author nor I have made any attempt to organize these in a manner of one thought flowing to another. They are basically chronological, which is fitting. Some of the following links go to a previous blog written by Coturnix. 

Regressives: What Should We Call Them? – March 28, 2005
Moral Order - June 23, 2006
Nurturant is not Coddly! – July 21, 2006
Why Creationists Need To Be Creationists - July 26, 2006 (see last comment for links to updates)

The Conservative

Assistant Village Idiot has thoughtfully arranged links to his series of posts on the roots of liberalism here. I cannot thank him enough because that makes finishing this post so easy on me.

Jul 22 2009

If Money Can Solve It, You Don’t Have A Real Problem

Tag: economics,health,HistoryDonna B. @ 12:23 am

The title of this post is a saying I’ve heard from my father over the years. And it’s truth becomes more evident as time passes. The saying does not address getting the money, only the severity of the problem. If your problem is that your shoes have holes in them, money can get you a new pair of shoes. 

If your problem is poor health — say you have cancer — no amount of money can buy a cure. That’s a Real problem. Money may buy you years and because of that, a “cure” is defined, medically or statistically, in years. Five years, usually.

If your problem is a cluster of diseases possibly or probably caused by somewhere you were 45 or so years ago, no amount of money is going to buy a cure.

If you’ve got a problem that money can solve, then your goal should be to earn that money. It may seem impossible, but it probably is not. If money can’t solve your problem, ponder that infamous creek and missing paddle.

Jul 17 2009


Or rubbing salt in a wound?

1902: With human comfort the last thing on his mind, a young mechanical engineer completes the schematic drawings for what will be the first successful air-conditioning system.

It was the effects of humidity on paper that he was trying to stabilize and I can assure that paper has been curling in my home the last few days. So has my hair.

Our new unit is on the way and hopefully installation will be completed by Monday evening. We’re not just getting the old one (aged 24) repaired, but installing an entirely new unit, including heat.

The heater part hasn’t worked right in 5 years or so, but that’s seldom a huge problem here.

Jun 10 2009

A Non-Pollyanna Post. (Don’t read if you’re happy).

Tag: History,non-fictionDonna B. @ 9:06 pm

I’m currently reading The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II and it is one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read.

Oh, it’s not overly footnoted or heavy on scientific terms. It’s just that I have about a 40 minute tolerance of the sheer human depravity depicted. It is perhaps more depraved than the holocaust, even though the numbers do not compare. Why is this so? It is because the depravity of the Rape of Nanking was much more personal.

It is the difference between industrial killing and experiencing first hand the spurt of blood and dying moan from each victim. The Nazis, though killing many more people, were not, for the most part, individually involved in the killing of individuals.

I do not mean to imply that assembly line killing is a lesser evil. It is, I think, the greater evil. What I am saying is that is does not involve as many killers and it is spared the grotesque experience of massive blood and guts. The resemblance lies in the requirement of the agreement of many people to acquiesce. The difference lies in the actions of those who acquiesce.

Is it less moral to herd prisoners onto a rail car not knowing for sure (though cognizant of the possibility) that are on their way to die or is it less moral to personally rape, tortue, disembowel, and kill a prisoner? Is there, in fact, a moral difference?

Does the fact that the more personal killing is based on the fact that the prisoners could not be fed therefore they must die (a painful and humiliating death) a more moral position than one that says the prisoners are inferior human beings and therefore must die to preserve a perceived genetic preference?

Why were the Germans prosecuted with the utmost zeal and the Japanese were prosecuted with negligible fervor after WWII?

Which do we rally against? Why has it been so much easier for most of humanity to rally against the industrial style? Is that because our governments are getting bigger and bigger and more controlling?

Or is it because it is simply easier to protest government actions than it is individual actions — even when those individual actions are at the behest of a government?

The bottom line to me seems that individual action is likely to kill fewer people but do so more gruesomely. State actions are much more efficient and bloodless thus more people are killed.

Which is better? Individual violence or government violence? That is one question. There are many others.

Dec 07 2008

Pearl Harbor

Tag: History,militaryDonna B. @ 5:33 pm

Someday I’d like to visit Hawaii and the USS Arizona Memorial. In fact, I have a fairly long list of places I’d like to visit and I’m quite sure I’ll get to most of them in only a virtual way.

Today, I visited the USS Arizona through the words of Neptunus Lex.

Nov 24 2008

A Challenge!

Tag: History,legalities,ResponsibilityDonna B. @ 12:44 pm

If you haven’t read about it yet, Americans have failed civics. I specifically challenge my family to take this test. C’mon, it’s only fair! After all, the J.D.s beat the H.S. grads in Spades this weekend, so I challenge all my college graduate relatives to beat my H.S. score

Here’s the test link. There are only 33 questions, so it won’t take long.

Here’s what you’ve got to beat:

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 78.1%
Average score: 78.1%

I’m not telling which one I missed until I get your scores! I will say that it was a choice between two possibilities, and true to form, I chose the incorrect one.

Have fun! And you don’t have to be family to participate in my strange desire to be outscored.