I now have a fuller appreciation for the old saw that if one has two weeks of vacation time coming to take a trip during the first week and to rest the second. My will power was so sapped yesterday that I could not even transfer photographs from camera to USB drive. It was all I could do to catch up on email and browse the articles that had amassed in the RSS accumulator. Reading those, in part, explains part of my lethargy and ennui.
First courtesy of LiveScience, [Link] I find confirmation of something I have always suspected: if you go to a chain restaurant and find something on their menu that they tout as ‘healthy’, it isn’t.
This strikes at the root of the problem of eating out and health. If you eat at a chain restaurant they are required by law to make available the nutritional information on their offerings – many, of course, flout the law  – but you now have confirmation that they lie; if you eat at a local restaurant, no nutritional information is required so it’s a poke opening. And you have to wonder if the foodstuffs manufacturers – the General Foods and the like – will shortly also be exposed as liars and terrorists.
I am not a fan of social engineering but harkening back to one of our greatest presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, I hold that government needs to do things to protect the citizenry from the food manufacturers. In his day it was the meat packing industry, today it seems to be the whole gamut of processed food purveyors. Of course, I suspect one of the qualities of bogishness is to be completely unconcerned about the foodstuffs ingested other than taste and quantity.
While on bogishness, I note, via Ben Goldacre, [Link] that psychologists have conducted people experiments that indicate that if superstitious people are allowed to use their luck amulets, or otherwise encouraged in their superstition, they perform better on trials of effort. The rational view of this would be that this catering makes these bogs relaxed and unstressed and hence they perform better. This is not exactly news. My sophomore mechanics (first semester) professor used to tell us to go bowling the night before examination. None of the class ever did but then none of us bowled. Nor were we particularly superstitious. I suspect being a student of physics tends to weed out that sort of nonsense.
Nor, as Goldacre points out, even being a journalist, most humans have some behavior that passes as superstitious. The question, left unasked and unanswered, is whether this type of thing should be abided? It may be argued that if toting around a scrap of dead plant or animal (e.g.,) relaxes one then the result is better and neutralizes the irrationality. But no one stops to total up how that irrationality pollutes other activities and aspects of human society. I believe this proves something I once read by Lord Kelvin along the lines of what “what we have not measured we do not know.”
And while we’re on accepting whacked behavior, I read [Link] that researchers have come up with some proposals on how to destroy a gravitational singularity. Quite apart from the uncertainty associated with the physics of the exercise, a rather more telling inquiry is into the propensity for homo sapiens to expend so much effort on destroying things, even things we cannot get to, much less at. I have to admit to personal experience with this trait encoded in out genes. Back when I was a young man and given to having difficulty handling frustration and stress, I would take a Tupperware (R) drinking glass and beat it against the counter top for several minutes in a most aggressive fashion. No, never hard enough to visibly damage the Formica, but hard enough to relieve my stress after five or ten minutes.
One of the advantages of this method is that Tupperware glasses are sold in sets of six or eight and bachelors have scant use of that many at any time; hence that many is only an invitation to piling dirtiness in the disk sink. Additionally, these glasses are quite durable and I never did actually tear up a glass although after a year or so of such drubbings, say once a month on the average for a drubbing frequency, I could render it unusable for drinking by deformation. I fear beating on a gravitational singularity will not be so benign.
And lastly, given beatings as an azimuth, we have a report [Link] from the Old Dominion state about garage doors misfunctioning, including raising and lowering uncontrollably. Naturally, some bogs saw this as being of supernatural origin and they seem to be close to accurate. The culprit turns out to be the military. Seems the electromagnetic wave frequencies used in controlling garage door openers have since been reassigned to military use and that use sometimes triggers the doors to open or shut ‘magically’. Perhaps if the home owners are permitted to carry parts of discorporated entities this will abate, or they could change the coding or frequency of the opener? But then, rationality is not romantic.
 Anecdote: On our gallop FD SCP and I had problems finding somewhere to break our fast the first morning. Finally, in desperation, just before 1000 hours, we pulled into a McDougals in Selmer, Tennessee for a biscuit and beverage. No nutritional information to be seen, nor non-dairy creamer either – evidently McDougal’s discriminates against normal adults and disrupts their digestive systems with lactose. Our food was served on a flimsy plastic tray with a paper liner, presumably to thwart the sanitation laws. The nutritional information was printed in very small type on the underside of the liner.