Week of 27 July 2009
Update: Saturday, 1 August 2009 11:45 -0500
Three weeks left until the Maker Shed Science Room launch, and I have
more than three weeks' worth of work left to do. No surprise there. But
the critical-path stuff is well in hand, enough so that I'm going to
start today on cranking out lab session articles and general articles.
Those aren't critical, in the sense that it's not make-or-break if I
have only, say, 50 articles posted and available for readers at launch
rather than 75 of them.
We want a substantial body of articles
available at launch, but "substantial" is a pretty flexible word. If we
have 50 up, fine. If we have 75, that's better. And 100 would be better
still. Whatever articles aren't available at launch will follow as soon
as possible. That'll be pretty quickly for the chemistry and forensics
articles, because the raw material for them is already complete. Of
course I'll eventually be adding a lot more articles on different
topics such as biology, earth science, physics, and so on. Those I'll
have to write from scratch, so they'll be appearing over the coming
months and years.
Then, of course, there are the videos. I spent
yesterday writing outline scripts for several of those. We want to have
at least a few of those shot and edited in time for launch. We'd like
to have scores of them up in the next few months, and perhaps
eventually hundreds of them.
Yesterday, I was thinking back
to a test we all took in high school. I think it was called the Kuder
test, and it was intended to determine which careers we'd be best
suited for. As I recall, the results listed the top three recommended
career choices. Two of the top three recommendations for me were
something like "High School Chemistry Teacher" and "University Science
Professor". So I suppose it's no surprise that I love what I'm working
- Here's the story of Bonnie & Clyde,
two Border Collies, one blind and one what James Herriot called a nurse
dog. Some scientists claim that dogs have no emotions, and that humans
who perceive canine emotions are anthropomorphizing. Anyone who lives
with dogs knows that's false. Dogs exhibit a wide range of emotions,
from joy and excitement to fear and dislike. And Bonnie pretty clearly
exhibits caring and concern for others of her species. What possible
other explanation is there for her helping her blind companion?
- A moron being criticized by an imbecile.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Vice President Biden commented in passing:
can see Putin sitting in Moscow saying, 'Jesus Christ, Iran gets the
nuclear weapon, who goes first?' Moscow, not Washington."
So, if you're a fundamentalist Christian nutter, this apparently
qualifies as hate speech, whatever "hate speech" may be when it's at
In a way, one has to feel sorry for these lunatics.
They've had it all their way for a long time, but the world is waking
up to the absurdity of their beliefs, laughing at them for the nutjobs
that they are. It's this kind of public comment that digs them in even
deeper, and that's all to the good.
The more people who laugh at
and ridicule these nutters and their beliefs, the better. They're
doing their best to kill science. Given the choice between a world with
no science and a lot of Christian nutters or a world with lots of
science and no Christian nutters, I know which I'd choose. The same as
any rational person would choose. We have them on the run now, but
don't stop piling on. Nothing succeeds like excess, and there is no
more effective weapon than ridicule.
We had a bad scare yesterday. Barbara called me on her cell phone about
1:30 to say she was in the parking deck getting ready to leave for her
parents' house. She'd just returned to work from lunch and had two
voicemails waiting from her mother, saying that her dad was in bad
shape and needed to go to the hospital. Barbara's mother doesn't drive,
and her father refused to call 911. So Barbara drove over there, picked
them up, and headed for the emergency room.
the problem was, it wasn't serious enough to merit immediate attention,
so they sat there in the emergency room for several hours, waiting
their turn and watching many people who appeared to be uninsured
illegal aliens being treated ahead of her dad, including quite a few
who had no apparent real problem. This while her 87-year-old dad was
dizzy, disoriented, and suffering chest pains. After several hours,
they did finally treat him. They did a CAT scan and concluded that he
was suffering from severe dehydration, probably a result of him doing
yardwork the previous day. They administered IV fluids and sent him
home. Barbara finally got home after 9:00, completely exhausted.
and the 911 thing. Barbara's dad refused to call 911 because there's a
new policy here. If you call 911 and aren't admitted to the hospital
(and, apparently, sometimes even if you are admitted), the county sends
you a bill for the cost. IIRC, the standard charge is something like
$700. Barbara's dad didn't want to risk being charged for calling 911,
so instead of getting a skilled response to his medical emergency in
two to five minutes, he ended up waiting for Barbara to transport him
to the hospital. That meant it was more than an hour before he got any
medical attention at all, even disregarding the hours he spent sitting
in the ER waiting room. This for a man who is 87 years old and was
suffering chest pains.
Now, I understand why the emergency
services implemented this $700 charge. People were treating 911 like a
free taxi service, calling them out for any reason or no reason at all,
and the idea of the charge was to reduce the number of unjustified 911
calls. The problem is, the only calls they've eliminated are those from
people who are afraid they'll have to pay that $700 out of their own
pockets, and they weren't the problem in the first place. The problem
calls were (and are) almost exclusively from the dregs of society,
people who don't care about that $700 charge because they'll never have
to pay it. They're what lawyers call judgment-proof.
It seems to
me that there's a more reasonable solution to the problem. If you live
in public housing or a slum area and you call 911, the EMTs simply
don't respond. And while I'm at it, I have a solution to overcrowding
in ERs. The triage nurse evaluates each person as they arrive in the
ER. If they're conscious and don't appear to have an immediately
life-threatening problem, they must present evidence of insurance or
otherwise establish their ability to pay. If they don't, they get
booted out the door. And the immigration folks should have a strong
presence at every ER. They should eyeball every person who arrives. If
they suspect for whatever reason that that person is an illegal
immigrant, they should examine that person's documents and verify them.
Anyone who is not a citizen or otherwise in the country legally should
be deported immediately. That should pretty much eliminate the problem
of illegal immigrants swamping our emergency rooms.
things, and our ER waiting rooms will soon start looking less like
third-world medical clinics and more like what they're supposed to be.
- Although the Make: Science Room doesn't launch until 17 August, there's a preview up on the MAKE Blog.
We decided to give visitors a taste of what we'll be doing when we
launch the Science Room, and microscopes seemed like a good place to
There are product pages up for all of the microscopes
we'll offer, at least initially. Some of the stuff, like the Microscope
Comparison Chart, isn't up yet, nor are items like the Microscope
Starter Kit (slides, cover slips, mounting fluids, etc.) or the
Microscope Staining Kit (a broad selection of the most useful stains).
But all the microscopes are there, and priced competitively.
In case you're wondering, my own personal microscope is a Model 161 with the ASC objectives upgrade option.
And, yes, I paid for it with my own money, and you can be sure I
researched the market very thoroughly before I plunked down my own cash.
you have a need for a microscope, or even if you've just always wanted
one, check these out. They're also excellent back-to-school gifts.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by