Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Funnies

-Schlock Mercenary Schlock obeys the "Drink Me" label.
-TwoLumps Gladiator kitties.
-Girl Genius Zola and Anevka plot in the hospital.
-Digger Ganesh guides the traveler and removes obstacles.
-No Need For Bushido New comic Monday!
-Delta Bravo Sierra What Top thinks of Columbia.
-Amya Have some lunch.
-Dresden Codak License for Science denied.

Not Updated, fie!
-Lackadaisy Not a real update, but some amusing short sketches added.
-Gone with the Blastwave Waiting patiently for the December January February March comic.
-My Ninja Family
-Argghhh-onauts leads puppies astray.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mad City

During my wandering ronin-scientist period I spent a year and a half in Madison, WI.  Due to a series of unfortunate events, that time period encompassed two winters and I still have nightmares about that.  Nothing cheers me more than having to scrape my car windows twice a day.  The above is one of my favorite postcards from that town, and it fits.

Most Madisonians are pretty laid-back and while not effusive in friendship (would violate the Scandihoovian code or something) are quietly generous.  There are a few odd ducks that feel by congregating in Madison it makes it, and them, "cool" and hip and things.  Cold, definitely.  The University has a nice terrace for drinking beer on during the month of summer, but beyond that it provides a nice view of the yearly ice sculpture contest on the lake.  The frozen lake. 

They want to be seen as the Berkely of the midwest, but I have sad news for them.  I've lived in Berkeley too.  Being able to buy tie-dye t-shirts doesn't make you Berkeley.  A handful of head shops doesn't make you Berkeley.  Maybe they don't understand what they need to add to reach that rarified level.  I think even the rampaging leftists might be a bit taken aback by what *I* saw in Berkeley.  Like a savage beatdown of one homeless person against another in, wait for it, the Peace Park.  At least they weren't using nuclear weapons (forbidden by city ordinance ...).  The guy who wore an amazing turban consisting entirely of hundreds and hundreds of panties.  The Hitler clone (who seriously skeeved me out).  The decay and the poverty and the dirt.  There were some good things too, but usually they were leftovers from a prosperous, non-hippy time.  The town was puzzled why people with money didn't want to come in and spend it in their grubby shops, stepping over smelly "counterculture" adherents to do so.  And strangely, communist-manques don't spend a lot of money! Capitalists don't care to support causes dedicated to destroying them and everything they stand for!

I'm not surprised there are rampaging hordes of whiny leftists wailing to the heavens in Madison right now.  Those mean conservatives are trying to destroy their dream of destroying Wisconsin.  And making Madison truly into Berkeley.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Radiation and the Standard Banana

Watt's Up With That, home of the global warming resistance, had a highly interesting post up about how to explain radiation to non-specialists using the concept of the Standard Banana.  The Banana Equivalent Dose, or BED, is the amount of radiation equivalent to exposure to one ordinary banana - "roughly 520 picocuries per 150g banana".  No, this is not due to some radiation exposure by evil banana barons, this is perfectly natural and a consequence of all that potassium they contain.  Radiation is, actually, natural.  Cosmic rays zip through you every day, even if you eat organic, free-range vegetables and vote Democrat. 

I had to undergo radiation safety training as a consequence of my work for several years, every year, and wore a film badge to measure radiation exposure.  The government concept of ALARA, As Low As Reasonably Achievable, was developed in the very early days of radioactive science when they really didn't know that much, except that too much would kill you.  Later they noticed a trend in cancer vs. radiation exposure.  BUT!  The way they looked at it, you had only so much radiation exposure, of any kind, and once you hit the red line of cumulative dose it was Cancer City.  However actual experiments about low dose radiation seems to indicate there is a baseline below which no damage occurs, even cumulative.  (To be more precise, damage that does occur is easily and completely repaired.)

The topic of radiation damage in the human body is fascinating, and still not completely understood.  Exposure from exterior sources vs. ingestion, type of particle emitted, and even organ exposed all make a difference in calculating damage and the chance of three-headed children.  Also, individual response can vary widely.  For example, some people appear to be able to flush radioactive material from their bodies before it has time to do much damage.  The celebrated case of Radithor, a patent medicine made with radium in the 1930s, is an example.  When one patient died, rather horribly, from the effects of radiation damage, the doctor who had prescribed it testified in his defense that he had taken just as much of the medicine himself and was still healthy so the medicine could not be the cause of death.  The patient in question had taken large amounts  (three bottles!) of Radithor every day, possibly because one of the side effects immediately after a large, damaging dose of radiation is a feeling of increased energy.  Since one of the *longer-term* side effects is usually death, most people doing the risk-benefit analysis would opt out.

(For those of you playing at home, the Snarkatronic Computational Array estimates that one bottle of Radithor had a Banana Equivalent Dose of nearly 2 million bananas.  Don't say you weren't warned.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Military-Industrial Complex and My Bathroom

I am inspired by the loo-blogging of Sweasel to expound on matters ablutional.  When I bought my house the one major downside was the upstairs bathroom.  For reasons I could not fathom the tub, toilet AND sink were all this bland, flesh-toned pink that was unpleasant to my eye, especially in the early morning.  Why, I asked myself, would anyone go to the extra bother and expense of having bathroom fixtures that were, to be blunt, pretty much the same color as the user?

I found the answer: Mamie Eisenhower.  She unleashed a veritable plethora of pink bathrooms in the 50's.  I escaped lightly; it could have been the pepto-bismal pink shade, or extended to the tile. (Mamie had pink *cotton balls* in her bathroom.)

Don't let the Save the Pink Bathroom people know, but I am going to considerable expense to rip this monstrosity apart.  If anyone wants a pink toilet for nefarious purposes, let me know (you pick up).  Preference will be given to plans involving explosives.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Funnies

-Schlock Mercenary Schlock has a killer contract clause.
-TwoLumps The Sith have the power to make you gag.
-Girl Genius Tarvek is very good at chain-yanking.
-Digger The tunnel stayed open.
-No Need For Bushido New comic Monday!
-Delta Bravo Sierra Top is in the room.
-Amya Not the ones they were looking for.

Not Updated, fie!
-Dresden Codak
-Gone with the Blastwave Waiting patiently for the December January February comic.
-My Ninja Family
-Argghhh-onauts makes guardian angels cry.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Funnies

-Schlock Mercenary The rescue team has lost all its luggage.
-TwoLumps Simulating spring with a heat vent.
-Girl Genius Dr. Sun converses with his new patient on the nature and extent of freedom.
-Digger Digger worries about destiny.
-No Need For Bushido Lord Maru fights dirty.
-Delta Bravo Sierra Colonel Blue Falcon is on the loose.
-Amya Pesky archers in the trees and other signs of spring.
-Lackadaisy Mitzi wants to put it all back together.
-Dresden Codak Kim's backpack is tested.

Not Updated, fie!
-Gone with the Blastwave Waiting patiently for the December January February comic.
-My Ninja Family
-Argghhh-onauts wishes the kids of today wouldn't mumble so much.