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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

  • The Grammarphobia Blog: Grammar, Usage, Etymology, and More: Is Obama an object lesson in bad grammar?
  • State of the Art - Amazon.com’s Kindle Goes From Good to Better - NYTimes.com
    February 24, 2009 07:31:00 AM WEST VALLEY UT US Out for delivery

    February 24, 2009 07:18:00 AM WEST VALLEY UT US Arrival Scan

    February 24, 2009 06:05:00 AM SALT LAKE CITY UT US Arrival Scan

    February 24, 2009 03:25:00 AM MEMPHIS TN US Departure Scan

    February 24, 2009 01:01:00 AM MEMPHIS TN US Arrival Scan

    February 23, 2009 07:07:00 PM --- Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit

    Thanks JB

  • In defence of skiving

    Where have I been all these years? I've never heard the word skiving used this way.

    The subtext of these reports is: come on, guys. Pull your weight. You're not really, ill, are you? You're letting down the team. It's unpatriotic. While pretending to be objective and caring, they make it into a moral issue. I remember hearing a joyless spokesperson from the CBI on the radio smugly observing: "Isn't it funny how workers' sick days so often coincide with major sporting events?"

  • Getting down and dirty with the president « Mighty Red Pen

  • The Northville Review | Flames

  • Forget Marriage -- Civil Unions For All | Sex and Relationships | AlterNet
    believe fervently in the sanctity of marriage, and if you do, too, head immediately to your closest church, mosque, synagogue or flying spaghetti monster chapel, and sign up to procreate, cohabitate and copulate with a sex partner blessed by that holy institution.

    But pass city hall and do not collect $200 in tax breaks. In fact, given the intrinsic rewards of sanctity, it's pretty greedy to demand any secular perks from the state. Eternal life at the feet of the old white guy and his hench-angels should be prize enough.

    Making your marriage sacred should be between you and your goddy thing.

    Making your union legal, on the other hand, should be between you and state-guaranteed legal and human rights. And it should be available to any two people, gay or straight, in whatever configuration: Mother and son, grandparent and grandkid, mother and daughter, and best friends should all be able to form legal couples that enjoy the rights, privileges, financial benefits and responsibilities now assigned to marriage. (Calm down Rev. Rick: Only two people, no pets allowed.)


  • Under the Literary Influence - Proof Blog - NYTimes.com

  • YouTube - Sean Penn Wins for "Milk" Acceptance Speech

  • Wonkette : John McCain Is Very Upset Over Barack Obama’s Helicopter

  • Science Centric | News | One of the most important problems in materials science solved
    There are several materials that evince a clear phase transition in all thermodynamic properties when the temperature falls below a certain transitional temperature, but no one has been able to explain the new collective order in the material. Until now, this has been called the hidden order.

    'The hidden order was discovered 24 years ago, and for all these years scientists have tried to find an explanation, but so far no one has succeeded. This has made the question one of the hottest quests in materials science. And now that we can explain how the hidden order in materials occurs, in a manner that has never been seen before, we have solved one of the most important problems of our day in this scientific field,' says Professor Peter Oppeneer.

    Four physicists from Uppsala University, led by Peter Oppeneer and in collaboration with John Mydosh from the University of Cologne, who discovered the hidden order 24 years ago, show through large-scale calculations how the hidden order occurs. Extremely small magnetic fluctuations prompt changes in the macroscopic properties of the material, so an entirely new phase arises, with different properties.


  • Making Light: Why We Immunize


 

Comments

I have to ask, Norm-- is it really that surprising that some parents choose not to vaccinate/alternatively vaccinate their kids? Yes, the anti-vaccine movement has shifted their reasoning for this choice a number of times (how unscientific of them!), but the possibility remains that many/all vaccines carry a tiny risk of fatal "bad reaction" and that historically, there have well documented reports about widespread bad side effects due to certain vaccines, specifically the early smallpox (vaccinia-based) and anthrax vaccines (keeping in mind that differing pathways of immunogenesis according to vaccine type are lost on the general public).

The fatal reactions (a causal link cannot be adequately proved or disproved in some cases) may occur in only 1/10,000 or 1/100,000 or whatever (some would even argue that it's always due to something else, like SIDS), but the fact is that the risk of dying from vaccine-preventable disease in westernized countries is, these days, also very tiny, even among the unvaccinated. Many of the diseases are either extremely rare (like Tetanus) or rarely fatal in kids (Mumps, Rubella, Chickenpox). It is irrelevant that these parents "don't know what it used to be like before vaccines", an argument typically made by vaccine proponents. Self righteousness is not going to take us back in time to 1940 to teach these parents a lesson.

So basically you have parents who are weighing the murky, remote possibility that their child will suddenly die 12 hours after vaccination (or whatever the worry of the moment is) against the remote possibility that their child will contract and die from, or be irreversibly harmed by, a vaccine-preventable disease. And of course some small fraction of these parents will choose to expose their child to the latter risk rather than the former. Yes, making this choice also technically entails putting others at risk-- kids or adults with deficient immune systems, adults who never got chickenpox as kids, etc. But if you're terrified that your child is going to be the one in a million who suffers a bizarre reaction to a vaccine, it's probably quite easy to smooth over the less concrete idea that you might be endangering some unknown strangers.

No amount of moral outrage (not entirely unlike the vitriol that pro-lifers direct at women who choose abortion) or mathematical reasoning is likely to alter this phenomenon. I would guess that the only thing that would change these parents' minds would be a major resurgence of one or more of the VPDs, which is something that's not very likely to happen.

Bad Grammar:

As a fully paid up member of PURIST (Pedants United Requiring Impeccably Specific Terminology) I am quite happy to sit to one side and laugh up my sleeve at the mistakes made by such orators, it makes me feel superior in the only way I can.

Skiving.

I'm sorry, Norm, but I don't understand your intro to this piece. What is your understanding of the meaning of the verb 'to skive'? This is an article from a British Periodical, so I assume that you are used to another, American, usage.

here's another example of how the brits are way ahead of the yanks in the "excess verbiage" department:

when i finally got out of america into a more internationally oriented environment, i was introduced to the term "busking". as a street musician for many years, i was so pleased to no longer have to call out upon leaving "bye, i'm going to play music on the street hoping i'm good enough that people will give me money voluntarily!" :)

It's not just verbiage, it's also letterage. Two that i hear regularly on US TV shows are 'anesthesiologist' (british 'anaesthetist') and 'burglarized' (british 'burgled') Maybe we're just an older and lazier society.

To cut thin layers off (leather or rubber, for example); pare.

It's just a bit of British slang I don't recall seeing before, I rather like it.

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