Thursday, 28 February 2013

08:56 – Colin let me sleep in this morning. I awoke at 0755 and found Colin sprawled full-length on his back on Barbara’s side of the bed, still fast asleep.

One of the new science kits I’m seriously considering is a consolidated middle school science kit. There are three “standard” middle-school science courses: life science (introductory biology; usually grade 6 or 7), earth science (or earth & space science; usually grade 7 or 8), and physical science (introductory chemistry and physics; usually grade 8 or 9). Many homeschool parents try to cover all three of these courses in two years, grades 7 and 8, leaving grade 9 available for a first high school level science course. Traditionally that’s been first-year high school biology, with first-year high school chemistry in grade 10, but increasingly homeschoolers (and many public schools) are swapping those, teaching first-year chemistry in grade 9 and first-year biology in grade 10. That’s because modern biology courses are increasingly taught bottom-up–starting with the chemistry of life, life processes, cellular chemistry, and so on–rather than the old top-down approach of starting with organisms and working down toward cell-level issues.

We’re already planning to introduce separate kits for each of those three courses, starting with life science, but I realized that there are likely to be enough materials in common in those three kits that it might make sense to also offer a consolidated kit that would include the equipment and chemicals to do all three courses. It’d be a relatively expensive kit, but not as expensive as the three separate kits. If we do decide to offer a consolidated kit, it’d be a 2014 or even 2015 product, but it makes sense to think about it now because it would effect how we design the three separate kits.

And, on that note, I think I’ll make up a liter of universal indicator solution today, because that’s one of the chemicals that would probably be in the kit and I haven’t used it in probably 40 years. The stuff is ridiculously expensive to buy, but considerably less so to make.


11:49 – I thought this was interesting. Apparently, acetaminophen is even more toxic to snakes than it is to people. That’s pretty damned toxic, considering that something like 50,000 Americans a year are treated in emergency rooms for acetaminophen poisoning and about 500 of them die.


14:02 – I have finally had enough of being spammed by Shapeways. I was surprised that they spam, because they’re supposed to be a community effort in the MAKER tradition. But they’ve been spamming me for two or three years now. I have clicked on the unsubscribe link many, many times. I have sent them email. But the spams just keep on coming. So finally I went to their customer service page and left the following.

What do I have to do to get you to stop spamming me? I bought one item from you (a Dremelfuge centrifuge head) two or three years ago, and you have been spamming me ever since. I never “joined” your community, nor did I ever give you permission to email me.

So, please take me off your mailing list immediately. I should tell you that I’m an O’Reilly/MAKE author, and if you keep spamming me I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my readers are aware that I consider your company’s business practices unacceptable.

43 thoughts on “Thursday, 28 February 2013”

  1. I have an ongoing disagreement with my doctor about acetaminophen. I refuse to take it and use aspirin or ibuprofen. The toxic dose for acetaminophen is much too close to the therapeutic dose for me to be comfortable.

    Rick in Portland

  2. Yes, absolutely. The therapeutic index of acetaminophen is really frightening. People have died from minor overdoses, often accidental because they don’t realize that many OTC cold medications contain it. So they take a dose of acetaminophen capsules or tablets that’s within the recommended dosage level and then add a dose of Nyquil or whatever and wake up in the emergency room.

    Apparently, the FDA grandfathered in acetaminophen, because under current standards it’d never be approved for OTC use. In fact, I doubt it would have been approved 40 or more years ago.

  3. I’ve sometimes taken aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, etc. over many years now, not a lot or often, mind you, just when necessary and have never suffered any ill effects. Of course this is a body and brain that’s weathered half a century of abuse and mayhem and I wonder just what substance actually will end up killing it off finally.

    Nearly 50 degrees here in the Banana Belt of Vermont today, along the muddy banks of the Winooski River and just a stone’s throw from our inland sea. No sign of Champ yet, and the last halfway decent photo dates from the 70s, taken from the state park directly adjacent to our back yahd:

    http://0.tqn.com/d/paranormal/1/0/y/Q/1/champ.jpg

  4. Apparently, the FDA grandfathered in acetaminophen, because under current standards it’d never be approved for OTC use. In fact, I doubt it would have been approved 40 or more years ago.

    Given what we know about it’s toxicity, would it have been approved for prescription use? Or would it be approved in combination with hydrocodone so that people don’t take too much hydrocodone?

  5. If memory serves, sonar and other means have been used to try to locate and identify Champ and lots of dives have been made, if for no other reason to explore the many shipwrecks from Ye Golden Days of Yesteryear when the Lake was a very busy waterway between Montreal and Babylon On The Hudson. That picture was taken in 1977, nearly fotty years ago, and to date is the best known image obtained; the photographer and her kids not only snapped the pic but also watched the critter moving about in the water under its own power.

    The Lake is at least four-hundred feet deep at its deepest and is a hundred miles long, with the Richilieu River connection to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean. There are also southern outlets via Lake George and the Hudson.

    Similar critters have been reported seen in Lake Memphremagog to our east and of course, much further to the east, Loch Ness.

    Note the year in this story:

    http://www.discoverynews.us/DISCOVERY%20MUSEUM/CreaturesFromTheDeep/Plesiosaur-Japanese-Fishing-Nets.html

  6. Given what we know about it’s toxicity, would it have been approved for prescription use?

    Probably, but it might have a black letter warning. IIRC, it’s prescription in the EU.

    Heck, aspirin would be prescription if introduced today, due to gastric bleeding and clotting effects.

  7. “…nutcase creationist website.”

    OMG!

    Well, in any case, strange things have been seen in cold-ass deep-water lakes in the northern hemisphere for a while now. And seen by otherwise sober citizens of probity and rectitude. I’m thinking of setting up a webcam or two from the house at some point; we have a direct line of sight to that paht of the Bay.

  8. Got to see the Saurophaganax ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saurophaganax ) skeleton again on my annual pilgrimage to the LRGCC. The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at Oklahoma University is an amazing place. But the Saurophaganax is just bad news if one was to run into it a few million years ago. The one on display is 39 feet (12 meters) long. I especially like the hooked talons on the forelimbs and feet to hold you close while he gnaws on you.

  9. “Dave, that link is to a nutcase creationist website.”

    Is there any other kind?

    No, they’re all nutcases. But across the continuum of nutcase creationists, that site makes some of them look almost normal. Well, nothing could make them look normal, but you know what I mean.

    It’s always a bad sign when the home page looks like a ransom note.

    http://www.discoverynews.us/

  10. “Anatomy of a scam: Phone caller warns your PC is infected
    http://blog.chron.com/techblog/2013/02/anatomy-of-a-scam-phone-caller-warns-your-pc-is-infected/”

    I got

    “Apologies, but the page you requested could not be found. Perhaps searching will help.”

    Weird, the Houston Chronicle website is having problems. Meanwhile, until early tomorrow morning, you can see the webpage at http://blog.chron.com/techblog/ .

    And the website that it is talking about is https://windowssecrets.com/top-story/security-alert-bogus-tech-support-phone-calls/ .

  11. Why in hell would creationists give a crap about possible live plesiosaurs? Oh wait–forgot—mankind lived alongside the dinosaurs, that’s just how we roll. Teaming up against T. Rex and Allegosaurus or whatever that other one was that looked like T. Rex’s little brother.

    I’d forget about the webcam idea on the chance that a recorded sighting would set these geeks off again, but on the other hand, we could use the dough.

  12. Humans *still* live alongside dinosaurs! I’ve been associating with a T. rex (masquerading as my sister) for nearly 55 years.

  13. No, OFD, the Allegorysaurus is an old man who tells fanciful stories of the thinly-disguised real world. Aesop, basically.

  14. If Australian jails are like US jails, they need to get him out so they have room for someone who didn’t send in one of the thousand documents that his small business must file with the government, or was insufficiently respectful to a stupid pig who was shaking him down, or who torrented a movie he wanted to watch on his laptop.

  15. “Not nearly enough time to begin with, now his time is being reduced. Guys like this should get an appointment with someone wielding a very dull and rusty knife.”

    Fixed that for ya!

  16. “Not nearly enough time to begin with, now his time is being reduced. Guys like this should get an appointment with someone wielding a very dull and rusty knife.”

    I disagree. The appropriate punishment is life without parole. Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy mentioned on his radio show once that he was in prison with a guy who did unspeakable things to children. The guy told everyone in excruciating detail what he did to get sent to prison. Liddy told him to stay away or he’d kill him. The guy stayed away from Liddy. Most prison inmates are less polite and less self-controlled than Mr. Liddy.

  17. “http://www.discoverynews.us/”

    These guys are so embarrasing.

    “You will even see footprints of dinosaurs and humans in the same rock strata proving that men and dinosaurs lived side by side on planet earth.”

    I assume this is a reference to the intermingling in the same strata of the Glen Rose Formation of dinosaur and (supposedly) human footprints. The “human” footprints were later found to be a misinterpretation, but not before the creationists “enhanced” some to make them even more human like. I thought even creationists knew that the Paluxy “human” footprints weren’t human.

    Many years ago there was a good article entitled “Paluxy Man. The Creationist Piltdown.”

    See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur_Valley_State_Park#Controversy

    “Macro Evolution is the teaching that creatures develop from one species to another, but this has never been duplicated nor even documented in all of the millions of bone fragments and fossils that are found all over the world.”

    I can’t believe these people can tell such barefaced lies.

    “The mood (sic) has 1/8″ of solar dust accumulated on the surface. Scientists that believed in evolution thought there could be as much as 54 feet of the dust because they thought the moon and earth were formed by the Big Bang 4.5 to 5 billion years ago.”

    The Big Bang was only 4.5 billion years ago? Don’t they mean the formation of the solar system? I assume they meant moon instead of mood, and I don’t blame them for spelling errors, I know I make enough of them, but if the copyright notice is to be believed they’ve had up to six years to correct it.

    I’d expect more polish from this outfit. Amazing that people don’t see through this stuff.

  18. Dave B. wrote: “I disagree. The appropriate punishment is life without parole.”

    Ah, but Dave, life without parole IS the appointment. Mr. Liddy was probably quite capable of killing with his bare hands, but all sorts of things have been used as weapons in jail. I suspect most jail made shivs are not nearly as sharp as they should be, and may even be rusty.

  19. I’d be in favor of capital punishment if we could know with absolute certainty that the perp was guilty and if the pro-CP folks are willing to do the job personally. Failing that, life in the slam seems OK to me for violent criminals and perverts and suchlike. Meanwhile let’s empty our gulag prison system of all the non-violent, non-pervert prisoners we’re keeping there and find other means of justice for them. I don’t want check-kiters and pot-smokers in there with guys like Libby’s acquaintance or the Crips and Bloods dudes.

  20. Non capital crimes should get the bamboo whacker that they use in Singapore. It costs way too much to house people in “time out”. I do draw the line at removing the right hand. Or shortening someone for a non capital crime.

  21. I support the death penalty in principle but am skeptical in practice.

    I’ve mentioned this case before (sorry to those who are sick of it):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bega_schoolgirl_murders

    Two guys raped (repeatedly) two schoolgirls (one 14, one 16) from Bega, New South Wales, then murdered them. I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to push the button on them. But if the evidence isn’t solid I’m against the death penalty.

  22. On the illegals being released: Leaving aside that this is a blatant political move by the current regime with malice aforethought, per usual SOP with these sons of bitches, I don’t have a problem with the non-violent ones being let go, but I’d send them back to Mexico or wherever they belong. I tend to go along with views on immigration expressed these years past by the folks at vdare.com but I also know that the cat is outta the bag, the genie is outta the bottle. There are already upwards of twelve to twenty million illegals in the country, on *top* of the hordes of legals that we opened our arms to, ‘come one, come all,’ and ‘give me your tired, poor, huddled masses,’ etc., etc. With zero thought for consequences, immediate, and down the road.

    We can’t put that cat back in the bag now. Too late. I’d have a partial solution but it will be moot as the country devolves, one way or the other.

  23. As Dr. Jerry Pournelle ( http://www.jerrypournelle.com/jerrypournelle.c/chaosmanor/ ) says, the Sequestration Kabuki Theater is moving along as planned. The fact that Bob Woodward is standing out in the cold wind with a lot of fingers pointing at him does surprise me though. But maybe I should not be surprised. After all, Barrack Hussein Obama may be the second coming. Of someone.

  24. Yeah, acetaminophen (it always gets called paracetamol here) is a surprisingly scary drug — with, in my experience, surprisingly little effect. I recently had appendicitis and was prescribed paracetamol and tramadol. It seems paracetamol was by far the riskiest of the two, but its analgesic effects were negligible in comparison to tramadol. Then again, tramadol did turn me into a narcoleptic zombie, so I suppose I paid the price for its effects.

    It seems weird to me that paracetamol is used so often now we have ibuprofen. I know a few unfortunate women who suffer exceptionally bad period pains, and they eat paracetamol like sweets. Way more than the recommended dosage, and it’s not as if they have a lot of body mass over which to distribute the drug. It scares me. I’ve tried to persuade them it’s a bad idea, but they reason that because the drug is legal and common, it can’t be very dangerous.

  25. Yep, if this were a sane world, acetaminophen would disappear and tramadol would be OTC. IIRC, the therapeutic index of tramadol is 100+ versus a low single figure for acetaminophen.

  26. Way more than the recommended dosage, and it’s not as if they have a lot of body mass over which to distribute the drug. It scares me. I’ve tried to persuade them it’s a bad idea, but they reason that because the drug is legal and common, it can’t be very dangerous.

    There is a drug that kills 400 people every year in the United States, yet we still regard it as some kind of miracle drug. There is no such thing as a safe drug. All drugs have risks. The question is are the benefits worth the risks? In the case of the drug I’m thinking about, yes, it’s worth the risk. Yes, 400 people die every year in the United States from an allergic reaction to Penicillin.

  27. Absolutely, Dave B… but look at how often people overdose on paracetamol and then look at its comparable alternative drugs. It’s obviously a bad choice.

  28. Absolutely, Dave B… but look at how often people overdose on paracetamol and then look at its comparable alternative drugs. It’s obviously a bad choice.

    I agree. On a risk to benefit ratio, that whatever you call it, acetaminophen or paracetamol, it isn’t worth the risk.

    I think that vaccines very definitely are worth the risk. Every time I go to the doctor with my daughter, I read the forms they give us about the risks involved. Those risks scare the Hell out of me, though. My favorite is the one stating that if the child has a fever exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit, you should call the doctor. I’m pretty sure that the local ER has a sign about not using cell phones while there. I don’t know for sure, because the last time I wound up there was when I was lost trying to find my way back to labor and delivery.

  29. OFD in his much, much younger years never came close to an OD with a normal med prescription or OTC med. He did, however, come too damn close with illicit substances twice, once here in the States and once in SEA. The one in SEA was a cat’s whisker from sending young OFD into either Oblivion or Someplace Else.

    The incident in the States was during my sixteenth year when I dropped an ‘orange barrel’ hit of acid (lysergic acid dipthalymide) of approximately 1k mg, about four or five times the normal dosage in them halcyon days of the Glorious Sixties.

    But either OFD is possessed of an extraordinarily resilient physical and mental constitution, or his angel was working OT to save his worthless ass on too many occasions to count. If the latter, I hope there was a promotion to at least archangel.

  30. Dave B: yeah, on the rare occasion vaccines do go wrong, it can be nasty. I resign myself to it by thinking of them as I think of cars: a small risk of terrible injury for a lifetime of convenience.

    OFD: surely you didn’t come close to overdose on LSD? There’s no recorded case of a human death through overdose. The LD50 is estimated to be ~200 ug/kg. Assuming by “1k mg” you meant 1000 micrograms (AKA one milligram) you should have been nowhere near death. I can’t believe you had 1000 milligrams. A milligram might have led to a nightmarish trip, but unless you meant through the drug’s behavioural effects, it shouldn’t have come close to killing you.

    Psychedelics are another case where government interference compromises the public’s safety. Back when the US first banned LSD, people started selling DOC (and IIRC DOB?) as “acid”. They’re considerably less safe. The latest popular psychedelics are from the NBOMe family, and they’re arguably worse. Little history of human use. They’re basically drugs from the 2C family (e.g. 2C-B, 2C-C) with an NBOMe (from rusty memory, “(methoxyphenyl)methyl-“) group added on. Much higher potential for overdose, especially because they’re sold so often in powder rather than blotter form. They seem to cause much worse vasoconstriction than LSD, too.

  31. OFD: surely you didn’t come close to overdose on LSD? There’s no recorded case of a human death through overdose. The LD50 is estimated to be ~200 ug/kg. Assuming by “1k mg” you meant 1000 micrograms (AKA one milligram) you should have been nowhere near death. It might have led to a nightmarish trip, though.

    Back when he did it, OFD probably weighed only 5 or 8 kilos. He’s been working ever since to get up to his current 120 kilos.

  32. Incidentally, for you folks who are preparing for the worst, I assume you’re squirreling away antibiotics. For what it’s worth, one of the antibiotics we include in the biology kit is sulfadimethoxine, which is a long-acting sulfa antibiotic. It’s not approved for human use in the US, but it’s used widely in some other countries and has been for 30 years or more. For moderate to severe infections, the human dosage is typically 1 or 1.5 grams once a day with double that dose on the first day. I just bought a 535 gram package of sulfadimethoxine from Wood Enterprises for $45. Assuming a total course of 15 to 25 grams, that’s somewhere around 20 to 35 courses of treatment at $1.29 to $2.25 per course.

  33. Arrrghhh; whatever milligrams or micrograms, I forget, but I mos def remember that I was supposed to have broken the orange barrel into four pieces and only take one piece; instead I dropped the whole thing, which would have been, at the time, four to eight, depending on level desired, massive doses of LSD at once. So no, not an OD in the sense that I would have died; an OD in the sense that I fried my brain pretty good and was for all intents and purposes in some other dimension of existence. Luckily friends were with me throughout. This one lasted for many hours, and I wasn’t totally out of it until a couple of days had passed. It also involved almost total severance from reality and more or less continuous hallucinations of sight, hearing, and touch.

    I would have weighed about 75 kilos then and am now around 120.

  34. When one is allergic to penicillin and keflex, there is is not much you can take. Most bacteria sneer at erics but zmax does work sometimes. Doxy does not work either.

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