Archive for January, 2010

Never Again Will I Complain About Leftovers.

January 31, 2010

Mud cookies.

I had never heard of mud cookies before.  I remember hearing that starving people will eat mud to stave off hunger, but I never imagined that an industry around mud-food could arise.

With the recent earthquakes has come a renewed interest in Haiti’s past, present and future troubles.  I saw a picture of a Haitian woman prepping mud cookies in a newspaper article and was flabbergasted.  Apparently, the edible mud is sifted to remove rocks, then mixed with salt and shortening, shaped into disks and dried in the sun.

In an article from, one sixteen year old girl, Charlene, says this about mud cookies:

“When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day,” Dumas said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the 6 pounds, 3 ounces he weighed at birth.

Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. “When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too,” she said.

Oh, and FYI: Haiti’s mud cookie industry isn’t a new phenomenon.  The msnbc article above was published in January of 2008.  The website has an article and several pictures taken in 2008, like this one of women preparing mud cookies:

Good Riddance, Scott Roeder.

January 29, 2010

Today Scott Roeder was convicted – in 37 minutes – by a jury of his peers of the first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Kansas.

New York Times
AP News via Yahoo News

Everyone is happy that Scott Roeder received a just conviction…well, almost everyone.  I was intrigued when I went to google “Scott Roeder verdict”, and there on the third and fourth lines in the drop-down search bar was “Scott Roeder hero” and  “Scott Roeder defense fund”.  I went to a few of these sites and now I’m nauseous. 

One guy uses the phrase “Scott Roeder’s righteous, divinely-inspired assassination plot”.  There is a woman who has up a pulp-art style poster with the phrase “Blow the Whistle on Anti-Americanism!  Liberals, Gays, Muslims, Union Organizers…Report them all!”  This same charming female had the following post:

Don’t delay, get out and donate to the Scott Roeder Defense Fund right here (link not attached) note: yes, the Roeder Defense Fund link has been cleverly disguised as a “Planned Parenthood Dontation” link; this is to throw off the libs. In fact, this rouse is so clever that your credit card statement will even show “donation to Planned Parenthood”. Clever, no?)

This way, no one at your credit card company has to know that you’ve donated to a bigoted, hateful campaign that you’re ashamed to admit you support!  Yeah for privacy!

State of the Union – the highlights

January 29, 2010

I’m still trying to find the hour+ needed to watch President Obama’s 2010 state of the union address, but I was able to watch the highlights on this AWESOME two-and-a-half minute summary by Iman Crossan on youtube.

Warning – President may be accompanied by a sweet backbeat.

The responses to iPad are brutal!

January 28, 2010

Man, people are tearing the iPad apart!  Aside from the numerous sanitary napkin jokes (I’m not putting a specific link – just google “iPad jokes” if you’ve got a free hour or so), many of the iPad’s potential users are having fairly lukewarm reactions to Apple’s newest release. 

A lot of people are saying “it’s a cross between an iPhone and a laptop”.  One commenter said  “it fills the gap between a phone and a laptop”, to which Martin’s blog has this to say:

“What gap? This is not a gap I have ever experienced in my working or social life before. You can’t just make up a gap and then invent a product to fill it. That’s like saying there’s a gap between a fridge and an oven, and trying to sell a kitchen unit that keeps all your food lukewarm to fill it. Or saying there’s a gap between cars and bikes, so lets make a car you can pedal. Who the hell wants a car that you can pedal? Who the hell wants an iPad?”

hehehe…he’s right.  But if someone gave me a car I could pedal for free, I’d take it.  I’d take an iPad for free, too.

New Apple Product – the iPad!

January 27, 2010

Seriously, what else could I write about today?  You know, aside from Haiti, civil rights, President Obama’s State of the Union address… Naaaah…it’s iPad!


Apple officially unveiled their new Apple product today.  They’re calling it the iPad, and it’s a tablet – a sort of a cross between an iPod Touch and a laptop.  It has a flat screen that looks and acts like the iPod Touch, is super thin, and has a relatively huge (gorgeous) screen and a digital qwerty keyboard.


I was pretty excited to read the liveblogging provided by Gizmodo, and now the entire presentation by Steve Jobs is available to watch online.  I want, but I probably won’t get it for the cost.  A 32gig iPad with WiFi and 3G capabilities is running me $729.


I heart my iPod Touch, and have been wanting the iPhone for the 3GS service and camera.  I’ve been waiting for my current Verizon contract to end so I can sign up with the iPhone’s exclusive carrier, AT&T (which is a bit like trading down from caviar to frog eggs).  I was toying with idea of sticking with Verizon (and my enV phone) and just upgrading from my Touch to an iPad.

But alas, the iPad has no camera, I have to pay more for it than a new Microsoft laptop, and I have to pay $30 a month for an unlimited data package (which ain’t so bad).  But  $30/month data package + current phone plan = $95/month (but I get to keep Verizon).  AT&T iPhone plan = $80/month (but I’m stuck with AT&T).

Ah well, a girl can dream.

Battlefield Acupuncture

January 26, 2010


First, let me say that I am not a huge believer in the healing power of acupuncture.  I believe there is a significant placebo effect associated with acupuncture, and I know that some people who believe in the power of acupuncture report relief from some disease symptoms after receiving acupuncture.  But, not having read the medical literature myself I can’t gripe too loudly about the practice’s shortcomings.  I’ll leave that to others at SBM, Whats the Harm, JREF, Quackwatch, Lay Scientist, etc.

But you know what’s fun?  If you start to write a google search “Acupuncture is…”, you’ll get “scam” and “bullshit” before “effective” and “safe”.

In a recent study, acupuncture did not fair any better than the placebo treatments(1).  Therefore (according to this study), acupuncture does not work…at least in the sense that acupuncture proponents are trying to explain it.  But fine…I like to pay exorbitant amounts of money to have people touch me all over my body (I refer to the ancient art of massage, of course.  Not the ancient art of…nevermind), and if you want to pay someone to poke you with needles because you think it makes you feel better, who am I to judge?

But I get offended when a sleaze ball practitioner claims that acupuncture can do more for you than makes sense.  And when those sleaze balls influence really sick people to choose acupuncture as an alternative to traditional, proven medication or medical supervision, really bad things can happen.  AIDS can not be cured by acupuncture.  However, Hepatitis B infection can be spread by poorly administered acupuncture.

And now Battlefield Acupuncture.  I heard about battlefield acupuncture being used to treat wound pain on Mark Crislip’s Quackcast, episode 41.  Why acupuncture, when one has a perfectly legitimate excuse to get morphine…?  If you’ve just lost your legs, do you really need to worry about keeping a clear head?  When I was browsing around the interwebs in a completely random, uncontrolled, google-ish way for more information I found a fictional scenario of battlefield acupuncture being administered in the field, written by Dr. David Gorski in 2008 for science-based medicine.  He follows that up with a nice review of the information available at the time.  Take it away, Dr. Gorski!

But acupuncture isn’t just for the battlefield!  With Wounded Warrior Acupuncture (WWA), our  honored veterans can take advantage of acupuncture to treat conditions not limited to back pain, neck pain, joint pain, neuropathies, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), insomnia, anxiety, depression, brain injuries, phantom limb pain, etc.  Of course in the next paragraph, WWA is quick to point out that “our treatment is in no way intended as a replacement for medical care. WWA can be used as a complementary therapy or used as a stand-alone treatment for certain mild to moderate conditions.”  Yes folks, mild-to-moderate conditions such as PTSD and associated illnesses.  As long as your problem isn’t too problematic, we can take a stab at it (ha!).  No gain, no foul, right?

(1) “A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain” Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):858-866  See Respectful Insolence for a very good write up of this study and the hype surrounding it.

I find a new widget.

January 25, 2010

An alternate title for this post is “Jenny McCarthy sucks, but Jen McCreight from rocks”.  That one wasn’t as pithy as the original, though. 

I have a shiny new widget for a website called Jenny McCarthy Body Count (look – it’s in the column to the right side of the screen).  The website is very interesting in a frustrating, anger-making kind of way.  The author has a full-page FAQ that explains how he gets the numbers, and the site is up to date through January 16th of this year. 

The widgets are actually available from a different site, And this different site is called The Lay Scientist, which appears to be a durned decent critical thinking and science-centered resource filled with professional photos and an eye-pleasing layout. 

And by resource I mean excuse to delay going to the gym

Oh, and check out Sunday’s post from about the Scientologists muking it up in Haiti.  She’s got a couple of interesting articles from today also, so head to her home page to read about Merriam Webster being banned from a school, and poisonous holy water.

The Evangelists get us busted.

January 24, 2010

Yesterday at the bookstore we got yelled at by mall security.  Apparently several shoppers stopped by mall admin to complain that the bookstore was handing out religious-themed materials outside of our front doors.  Our manager explained that not only were we not handing out religious materials to patrons, but that it was against our corporate policy to do so.  And, btw, could she see the offending material?

Yup, we were the victims of a drive-by proselytization (hehe – that sounds dirty).

I’ve already blogged about the God Money I found in the store earlier this month, and now I have this lovely handout.  I’m starting a collection!  I think that every time I find evangelical literature in the bookstore, I’ll share it in this forum.  Fun!

Scott Roeder’s Murder Trial and Pierogis

January 23, 2010

A couple of articles from today’s Star Tribe caught my attention:

Testimony opens in shooting death of abortion doctor (Roxana Hegeman).  I like that testimony begins for Scott Roeder’s trial starts on the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.  With all of the people who witnessed him (allegedly) shooting Dr. Tiller, I don’t imagine it will be a long trial.

One of the things that makes me enraged about his defense:  His lawyers pushed for a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter (instead of first degree murder) because Roeder believed Tiller’s killing was necessary to save unborn children.  Gee…that would be a nice precedent to set, wouldn’t it?  But District Judge Warren Wilbert denied the defense motion, and Roeder is being tried for first degree murder.  For more, see Roxana Hegeman’s related article.

And on a much lighter (but heavier) note:

Artist hopes a pierogi will rise in Northeast (Abby Simons).  The on-line article contains a video interview with the artist, Jeff Lohaus, but I’m having a hard time watching it ‘cuz dude looks waaay to much like Albert Brooks and my giggling keeps distracting me from the interview.

Pierogi Project does have a serious rationale for the Proposed Pierogi sculpture…wait, wait…”Pierogi Project Pitches Proposal…I’m on to something here.  Anyway, the neighborhood in which the Pierogi sculpture would be Placed is made up of People from all four corners of the globe.  And they all eat Pierogis, emPanadas, momo, jiaozi (Potstickers) and Hot Pockets.  We all eat cooked Pockets of dough!  Heck, everyone can get behind that.  As Lohaus says “[This] seems like a Piece that will touch a lot of People”. 

And if you too believe in the unifying Power of Pierogi, you can Pitch in for the Pierogi Project (Did I mention that it has a $100,000 Price tag?), by visiting Jeff Lohaus’s website to Purchase a Pewter or bronze miniature ($250) of the Proposed Pierogi.

Chromatography AKTA FLPC

January 23, 2010

Major geek post, today.  Turn back while you still can!

I have to go into the lab today AND go work at the bookstore.  I love both of my jobs, but it’s Saturday…ewwww.  Internet fun…fresh air bad (well, in Minnesota in January, anyway).

At my job I sometimes do FPLC, which is a way cool chemistry tool for separating and purifying proteins.  But it can get pretty confusing very quickly.  There are all sorts of inputs and outputs, and sometimes I get mixed up with the tubes going all over the place:

“I fought the AKTA, and the AKTA won!”
FPLC image –
Stickman was added by biodork.

And sometimes the instrument acts up and and I get so fed up with it that I feel like:

FPLC image –
T-Shirt image –

There is also a way to make sure the columns (part of the set-up) are working well.  This method is called measuring “theoretical  plates“.  I imagine theoretical plates look something like this:

Plates image –
Text added by biodork.

or maybe more like this:

Thought bubble image –
 Plates image – http: