Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

October, 2009:

My daughter is awesome!

This evening, I was waiting for my new laptop to get through all its updates and my wife and I were watching NCIS while waiting, which allowed my eight-year-old daughter to stay up a little later than usual because… you know… we didn’t want to miss any of the NCIS episode to go tuck her in and I needed to be there to click “Next” on my laptop. Priorities.

While my daughter was, in turn, waiting for my wife and I to finish our important “tasks,” she grabbed some paper and colored pencils and wrote and illustrated a four-page book. Though the book doesn’t show off her graphic artistry (she can do much better), when I read the book, I was delighted… and proud. Here’s the book (click to embiggen).

Title Page
page01
Page 1
page02
Page 2
page03
Page 3
page04

Now, of course she doesn’t know everything, but if you’re going to learn everything, history and science are pretty good starting points. This creation of hers happened without any prompting on my part tonight, so I was especially pleased that she felt it was a cool enough topic to illustrate… in the 10 or 15 minutes she was waiting! She read it to me and my laptop and NCIS got ignored from that point.

I think my laptop is still prompting me to click “Next.”

Goodbye, Smallpox! Thanks, Science!

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the elimination of smallpox, according to Wikipedia. How was it eliminated?

Vaccines.

That’s medical science at its best… not “alternative” medicine, not homeopathy, not prayer, not the “Will of God.” Science. Real people doing real research to develop real solutions to real problems.

Nothing works like science.

Phil Plait says it better than I could (as usual).

Robots demand… something.

Robot Protest

Red Meat (the comic)

Red Meat has a great strip today… one that hits home with folks who tend to reject irrational and superstitious claims.

Here’s the first panel… click to see the whole shebang.

redmeat01

Newsweek on Inoculation Misinformation

H1N1 Vaccine Newsweek has a great article addressing all the misinformation flying around regarding the H1N1 vaccine. It’s definitely well done and worth the time to read, if only to counter those folks who cry about conspiracies and dangers and government plots to use vaccines to control your mind by enslaving you with a thought-control drug and giving you Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Vaccines are a critical tool in our medical arsenal to combat illness and death. Major diseases have been all but eradicated from the face of the planet due to vaccinations and others have been reduced to the point of near insignificance because of the effect of herd immunity in the world population. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has a great rundown of articles about the benefits and safety of vaccines, including Gardasil, the relatively new HPV vaccine.

Here are the summary points from the Newsweek article about the H1N1 vaccine.

    • The vaccine does have some risks – the same risks as the seasonal flu vaccine. Except for the virus, it is functionally identical to the vaccine that’s given every year.
    • The multidose formulation of the vaccine contains thimerosal, which prevents contamination. Some have accused thimerosal of causing developmental disorders in children, but scientific evidence doesn’t support this.
    • The vaccine does not contain squalene, which has been accused – also without good evidence – of causing Gulf War syndrome.
    • There’s no reason to believe that a vaccination would cause Guillain-Barre syndrome. GBS was associated with several hundred flu vaccinations in 1976, but there’s been no evidence of an association since then, despite close monitoring.
    • While it’s true that a Navy vessel was prevented from deploying because of a flu outbreak, that had nothing to do with the vaccine, which hadn’t been developed at the time. And there were no deaths aboard the ship, as some e-mails claim.
    • Vaccination is not mandatory for the public nationally or in any state, although New York requires that health care providers get vaccinated. Massachusetts legislation granting standby powers in case of health emergencies does not require vaccination or establish quarantine “camps.”

    Read the whole article to hear some of the crazy misinformation flying around… and the actual facts that show why it’s crazy.

    …then tell others.

    You need to roll a 16 to save…

    From our new employee benefits information booklet (emphasis mine)…

    If you travel with your spouse/domestic partner and child(ren) over 100 miles from home and need medical, legal or personal assistance, contact the Travel Assistance program — a special feature of the AD&D Insurance program.

    I really, really hope I make my saving throw.

    Lunar Sarcasm

    Walking on the Moon

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    Too Tired For Slippers

    Megan and I were going to go to a movie, but decided to make one ourselves, instead. Here’s the result.

    Megan is so tired that she doesn’t even have the energy to catch her slippers.

    “Just say no” misinterpreted

    There is a fight in Congress now, not between Republicans and Democrats, but between those who want to help and those who say, ‘Thank God we’re not helping.’

    – Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)

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    You can discover the galaxy, too.

    NASA’s equipment is some pretty powerful stuff. But astronomy also depends on the curiosity and contribution of amateur astronomers. […] If they can discover something great, so can any of you other students who are here tonight. All you need is a passion for science.

    – President Barack Obama during the White House Star Party

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