Teabaggin' for Geezus

I’m off to the gym (mmm…hot tub…), then brunch with some friends at the Independent in Uptown, followed by a shift at the bookstore.

Two outta three ain’t bad.

Today, I bring you the satirical stylings of Edward Currant.  WARNING: This video is mean, a little rude, and dare I say vicious and relentless?  But, gently readers, know that none of these things are done idly!  The attitude of the video helps drive home it’s underlying message: Evangelical religious right wing politics are very, very scary…and funny in their ridiculousness…funny in a make-you-want-to-cry kind of way.

Edward Currant is well known for his no-holds-barred videos lambasting religious silliness and right-wing extremism.  However, if you like that kind of stuff, enjoy!  Oh, and make sure to watch for the hand-reading glance ala Sarah Palin!

Teabaggin' for Geezus

Teabaggin’ for Geezus

I’m off to the gym (mmm…hot tub…), then brunch with some friends at the Independent in Uptown, followed by a shift at the bookstore.

Two outta three ain’t bad.

Today, I bring you the satirical stylings of Edward Currant.  WARNING: This video is mean, a little rude, and dare I say vicious and relentless?  But, gently readers, know that none of these things are done idly!  The attitude of the video helps drive home it’s underlying message: Evangelical religious right wing politics are very, very scary…and funny in their ridiculousness…funny in a make-you-want-to-cry kind of way.

Edward Currant is well known for his no-holds-barred videos lambasting religious silliness and right-wing extremism.  However, if you like that kind of stuff, enjoy!  Oh, and make sure to watch for the hand-reading glance ala Sarah Palin!

Teabaggin’ for Geezus

Saturday Snippits

You know you might read too much I Can Haz Cheezburger when it creeps into your work life.  I left this note for a coworker a few days ago to let her know that I was using some of her lab equipment.  I didn’t realize how dorky it was until she came up to me wondering what was up with the note:

Here’s an close-up:


The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market opened today!  I wanted to get there early to beat the crowds and get my pick of the new produce, meats, crafts, etc.  I groggily  got up out of bed at 6:30am this morning and ambled downtown, and after all that effort…well, it’s too bad that I missed the part about the Market opening at 9am.  This is what I saw when I arrived at 7:30 in the morning:

Doh! …At least I beat the crowds.

I did have fun watching the vendors set up.  Here’s a picture of an early flower vendor rolling his cart up to the seller’s area, with the Minneapolis skyline in the background (perspective is from the Northwest).

This early in the season, there’s not much in the way of fresh produce.  Any produce that is available is most likely ordered from larger distributers and repackaged – see the bulk onion bags in the back of dude’s truck? But there are local meat and dairy farmers selling meats, cheeses, and eggs, and today there were a couple of people selling seedlings and local artisans selling soap and pottery.

Another thing that was interesting about the early open was the prices of everything were higher than in the summer – less competition.  There was only one person selling flowers when I arrived, and they were going for $8-$20.  In the summer, you have 5-10 flower sellers per aisle, and almost nothing is over $5/bunch.

In the summer, the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market *explodes* – every vendor spot is taken, vendors peddle ready-to-eat treats, street musicians have their instrument cases open and ready to catch your spare change, and customers swarm over every spare inch of asphalt.  I’ll have to check it out again next week…although maybe I’ll sleep in a little longer this time.


Garden 2010 – Photo Update:

Last Week:  4/10/10

Today: 4/17/10

Verdict: Not dead yet.

Saturday Snippits

Dinkus of the Day

Cindy Jacobs wins hands down the Dinkus of the Day award.  And I don’t even have a Dinkus of the Day award.

For a very good, extensive and vitrole-free account of what Cindy Jacobs has been up to, please visit this blog.  The writer does a very good job of stating facts without using descriptors such as “yippy chihuahau”. 

The good Rev. Jacobs is a frenetic faith healer.  She kind of reminds me of a yippy chihuahua that really, really needs to pee. She believes she can exorcise “gay demons”, pornography, addiction, lust, bisexuality, and perversion. She also tells (screams at) her followers that they (through God and In The Name of Gee-eee-zus) can cure their cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C, feet and backs.  She is a proponent of “Spiritual Mapping” – which includes making maps of your ideological enemies and then waging spiritual warfare against them

She’s also a fan of mixing her politics and her religion:  She is appearing alongside Virginia GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at a rally that started yesterday at Liberty University (Lynchberg, VA) called “The Awakening”, which is put on by the Freedom Foundation, a consortium of faith-based and policy organizations.

She is a scary, scary woman.

Dinkus of the Day

Congrats to Simon Singh

Simon Singh has won his defense against the British Chiropractic Association’s libel lawsuit.

Rebecca Watson from Skepchick breaks the story ——-> here.

And someone has already been kind enough to update Simon Singh’s Wikipedia page:

In 2008, Singh was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian. A “furious backlash” to the ongoing lawsuit has resulted in the filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24 hour period, one national chiropractic organization ordering its members to take down their websites, and Nature Medicine noting that the case has gathered wide support for Singh, as well as prompting calls for the reform of English libel laws. On 1 April 2010, Simon Singh won his court appeal for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment. On 15 April 2010, the BCA officially withdrew its lawsuit, ending the case.

The legal fight took a LOT of money on Simon Singh’s part, and I would like to thank him for his dedication, effort and willingness to see this court battle to its end. Also a giant thank you to him and to all of his supporters (here, here and here) for sparking the larger issue of UK Libel Reform, which has affected – and continues to be able to affect – people world-wide. 

References are available on the wikipedia website for the claims and assertations made in the wiki post above.

Congrats to Simon Singh

WHAW, Part Deux

Welcome to Part Two of World Homeopathy Appreciation Week!

Yesterday was a longish post, so today I present to you a couple of video clips.  Grab some popcorn, relax and hear from two very intelligent and highly respected scientists and skeptics, James Randi and Richard Dawkins.  In celebration of WHAW, they do their best to make you very, very aware of homeopathy.

The first video is from The Amazing James Randi, the head of the James Randi Educational Foundation, a skeptical and critical thinking organization (via SBM).

The next video stars Richard Dawkins (via AM770 blog).  In the image capture below, doesn’t the doctor look a little like Skinner (Mulder and Fox’s boss) from the X-Files?

WHAW, Part Deux

Happy WHAW!

I just learned from Neurologica and Respectful Insolence that it is World Homeopathy Awareness Week (April 10-16th) – Happy WHAW!  This is the week in which skeptics all over the world have a chance to illuminate the utter nonsense that is homeopathy.  And I do encourage you to visit Respectful Insolence blog to see some excellent homeopathy videos – some will make you laugh, others will make you cry.  So, happy WHAW, everyone!

Oh wait, actually, WHAH is hosted by people who believe in homeopathy

Well, here’s some information to help you decide exactly how YOU would like to celebrate WHAW this week:

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine with two major tenets:

  • “Like treats like”, or the law of similars
  • Dilution of curative substances.

Like Treats Like

Homeopathy relies on the false premise of the law of similars, or more commonly “like cures like”. 

ClassicHomeopathy.com attributes the law of similars to Hippocrates and Aristotle, and the phrase “like cures like” or Similia Similibus Curentur to Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843), the father of homeopathy.  Here’s an example of “like cures like” from ClassicHomeopathy.com:

In “A treatise on Materia Medica” by Dr. William Cullen, it was mentioned that the drug Cinchona was used to cure Malaria, but that it (Cinchona) would also cause the symptoms similar to Malaria if the drug were taken in overdose.

Wikipedia explains further:

Dr. Hahnemann believed that by inducing a disease through use of drugs, the artificial symptoms empowered the vital force to neutralise and expel the original disease and that this artificial disturbance would naturally subside when the dosing ceased. It is based on the idea that a substance that in large doses will produce symptoms of a specific disease will, in extremely small doses, cure it.

Wikipedia calls this reasoning a ipse dixit axiom, which is a fancy way of calling it an unproven proposition that is held as truth…just because Dr. Hahnemann believed it was self-evident.  Also of note is the healing agent in this case is “vital force”; this is a reference to a non-measurable, non-observable “life energy” that is advocated by many practitioners of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). 


Okay…hang on to your hat: Homeopaths believe that by diluting a substance, you make the substance more potent, and that the remedy will have a greater effect on the body.  To be clear, to dilute is to reduce the strength, force, or efficiency of something by mixing it with something else, like water or air.  Synonyms for dilute include weaken, temper, mitigate, diminish. 

So, homeopaths believe that diluting something actually has the opposite effect of dilution.  If I take a homeopathic shower, would I get dirtier?

When homeopaths dilute substances – some of which are of questionable therapeutic value at any level – they reduce the substance down until almost none of it remains in solution.  Follow this link to see a neat animation of serial dilution.  The link is showing a bacterial serial dilution, but the same actions are taken for serial dilutions of homeopathic remedies.

Again from Wikipedia:

In Hahnemann’s time it was reasonable to assume that remedies could be diluted indefinitely, as the concept of the atom or molecule as the smallest possible unit of a chemical substance was just beginning to be recognized. We now know that the greatest dilution that is reasonably likely to contain one molecule of the original substance is 12C.

Hahnemann used 30C dilutions, but maybe he didn’t know about Avagadro’s number.  However, homeopaths today still recommend dilutions of 12C, 30C and 200C!  Remember, in Homeopathy Land, the less of a substance you have, the more powerful it is…

This table from wikipedia gives you an idea of what all that 12C, 30C stuff means.  Ratio describes the amount of the substance compared to the amount of the diluent (water, oil, alcohol, etc):

A more recent and even woo-ier explanation of how dilutions work is that homeopathic preparations allow water to maintain a memory of the substance that was once dissolved in it, even if the substance has been completed diluted out of solution.  If this is true, don’t go swimming in the ocean – that water probably remembers a LOT of crap and might take some of it out on you, you stinky, polluting human.     

There’s a great organization called the 10:23 Campaign, or Homeopathy: There’s Nothing In It.  This group formed on the understanding that homeopathic pills are nothing but water that has been diluted so much that nothing remains except…water (and sugar). 

And for fun, here’s a homeopathic webcomic:

229 – Homeo, Homeo! Wherefore art thou Homeo?

So why do I care?

Homeopathy, if assumed to be nothing more than water, sugar and feel-good energy quackery, can’t possibly cause any ill effects, right?

1) People drop tons of money on homeopathic remedies.  If you want to waste your money, who am I to judge?  But do you want to spend your money on something that has been proven to have no objectifiable, repeatable evidence of curing illness?

2) You help the bastards win.  Some people use homeopathy as a complementary medicine, that is, as a complement to conventional medical treatment.  In fact, many homeopaths will encourage you to take homeopathic preparations along with your doctor-prescribed medicine.  Now we know that homeopathy doesn’t work, but when you add a fake medicine to a known medicine and you get better, you’re giving leverage to quack homeopaths who can claim that homeopathy helped you get better!  In reality, your homeopathic “remedy” didn’t help any more than did drinking tap water with your dinner. 

3) You stop taking your conventional medicine and die.  You’ve been completely dazzled by homeopathy.  You think it’s the One True Cure for your bladder infection or your peptic ulcers or your cancer.  You quit taking your ciprofloxacin , your omeprazole or your Zoladex because you are going to use an alternative medicine: homeopathic preparations.

Many homeopaths will not recommend homeopathy as a stand alone treatment for these types of diseases because they know that conventional medicine is critical to you getting better.  They will recommend you use your homeopathic treatment to support your doctor-prescribed treatment (now is a good time to ask them to explain this “support”) Remember point two: When you add a fake medicine to a real medicine, there’s a good chance you get better.  When you only take a fake medicine…hmm. 

Also check out What’s the Harm for a list of people who have been hurt or killed by homeopathic intervention, and Orac at Respectful Insolence for some scary homeopathy-related injury photos.

4) Taxes, Insurance and Special CAM laws.  If enough people begin to support this bogus treatment, our tax money, insurance coverage and even state and federal laws can begin to change, and not for the better.  Our tax money currently supports the NCCAM, some insurance providers already cover the cost of select alternative medicines and treatments (mine covers acupuncture and chiropractic) – which we all pay for in the end, and legislative and regulatory measures evolve to cover CAMs.  That’s a lot of hubaloo for something that doesn’t have any objectifiable or observable evidence, isn’t it?

In closing:

Medicine is medicine because it is proven – it is objectifiable, quantitative, and repeatable.  Alternative medicine is none of these things.  If homeopathy worked, don’t you think Pfizer would be right there, patenting these incredibly easy and cheap to make products?

If you really want a homeopathic remedy, go on down to the grocery store and pick yourself up a nice, refreshing bottle of Evian.  It’s just like homeopathy – overpriced and…oh, yeah…just water. 

Happy WHAW!


Ever since I learned about scuba diving, I’ve wanted to do it.  I love being underwater.  I love the way that the physics I experience on ground is turned on its ear – Underwater I’m weightless, and plants, animals and detris flow in the invisible currents.  Sandy bottoms disperse and reform with the slightest encouragement.  Light defracts differently than on land.  Movement is fluid and graceful.  Temperature shifts in inches.  In wild environments,   I love the foreign critters and plant life.  And breathing underwater is such a triumph – a conquering of a foreign environment that still today holds so many mysteries!

So far I haven’t been certified in scuba for two reasons:  Money and Necessity.  Getting certified in scuba can be pricey, averaging ~$300 for training and certification, figure another ~$100 for the open water dive course, pricey equipment if you decide to invest in owning, and also pricey if you rent.  As for necessity: I was raised and currently live in the Midwest, and there’s not a lot of easily accessible diving around here, although Minnesota has more opportunity for freshwater diving that the suburbs of Chicago!   Also, I don’t know a lot of people who are scuba-certified, and thus I had no diving buddies. 

But I’ve finally decided to do it.  I realized that if I died tomorrow, one of my big regrets would be that I never experienced scuba diving, and as easy as it is to get certified…well, that’s a silly thing to regret.  Sadly, getting my scuba certification is not without sacrifice – I’m passing on the iPhone that I was planning on getting in May when my Verizon contract comes to an end.  I’ll be hanging on to my three separate devices (camera, phone, iPod Touch) for a while longer.  Fare well, iPhone, I never knew thee!

I’m getting my certification from the descriptively named Scuba Center in Minneapolis on May 14-16th.  I have a Friday night class, and then two classes on Saturday, followed by a pool class on Sunday afternoon.  Wham Bam!  After that I’ve got six months to do my open water dive. 

When I signed up, the store employee went through about 300 forms, which I have laid out on my kitchen table in the picture below.  I had to sign my name a couple dozen times, and then finally the swiping of the debit card.  It’s official! 

Aside from the new diver magazines, class offering descriptions and glossy equipment sales catalogues, I received a two-DVD set and two course books that I have to finish before the first class on May 14th.

The blue text book has five chapters and end-of-chapter quizzes, and is meant to be completed in conjunction with the 3 hours of video training.  The Use and Choose Dive Computers manual contains two additional chapters of homework. 

Along with all of this, Scuba Center requires students to supply their own mask, fins and snorkel for both hygiene and fit purposes.  The scuba mask has to be made of tempered glass and has to fit my face, the fins have to be scuba fins (sturdier, broader from what I understand) and the snorkel is nothing special, but they just want you to use your own.  They of course offer excellent deals on their own inventory for new students 🙂

And lastly, I also have a dive buddy!  I know of at least one good friend who lives in the area and loves to dive.

Looks like I’m all set.


Productive Sunday

Sunday was a decidely unadventurous day, but that’s alright – I can find peace and quiet in the mundane!

I opened at the bookstore, which means I started at 8am and was able to leave at the nice, early hour of 1:30pm.  This is my favorite shift *ev-er*; I get to put in a respectable five hours and I still have the best part of a weekend day available to enjoy.  To add to the awesomeness of the shift, it was a beautiful, sunny 70°F when I left the bookstore . 

After work I got my gardening groove on.  I decided to go straight for the seedlings this year, except for chives and parsley which should pop right up from seeds.  I tried the Mpls Farmer’s Market, but they’re not open until April 24th – boo!  So, I went to Home Depot…on a weekend afternoon. *shudders*

This will be my third year gardening at the apartment.  I live next to a bus stop in a semi-okay part of South Minneapolis with no private (fenced) yard or garden spaces, so I have developed a very easy-going attitude toward my plants: I put the pots outside by our window, and if someone tips ’em over, ah well.  I haven’t had any hooligan-type shenanigans yet, which makes me happy.  This year I planted one grape tomato plant and some herbs: Rosemary, Oregano and Basil.  Oh, and the chives and parsley. 

In other gardening news, my mentoring program has rented a plot at one of the local community gardens, and all matches are invited to join in the fun.  So this year I might get a chance to grow some root veggies (carrots and kohlrabi!) and vining plants (beans)!

After the gardening came the laundry and dishes.  Our laundry facilities are so much like college, except without the worrying so much about someone stealing your clothes thing.  I’m not a big fan of laundry (or the $2.50/load charge), so I usually put this particular chore off until I have 4-6 loads to do at a time.  Sunday was a six-loader.

After that was dishes.  I don’t mind doing dishes – there’s something mindlessly satisfying about filling the sink and…oh wait, no there’s not.  Really, dishes kind of stink too, especially after cooking fancy-pants dinners that require lots of pots and pans.


About the time dishes were done, it was time for a quick dinner and laundry-folding with House, M.D.  So all in all, it was a very productive Sunday, although I did get distracted by the internet…a few times.

Productive Sunday