Holiday Harrumphs

Once more into the breach – of week in, that is. And it portends to be a particularly nasty and trying week. The great American holy day is this week with all the falseness and pretense that has been attached to it, especially by the religionist-corporatist cancer. But this morning has not been bad. The air temperature is not at all bad and the rain seems to have abated for now. Lower temperatures are foretold for the end of the week which should improve the holy day enormously by offering up all sorts of excuses for ‘why bother?’

The podcast, an episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" was about the social impact of drones in Pakistan. It was singularly unconvincing. Even the natives supposed to be man-in-the-street discriminated came across as theological fascists and distilled evil. It occurs that with all the intensification of religionist fervor, that religion is becoming the hardest aspect of diversity to advocate. Even christianists seem fascist these days with gleams of death camps in their eyes?

While we’re on the morbid side of maudlin, I ran across an article [Link] yesterday about a research out of U Leeds that those air blowers for drying one’s hands in institutional toilets spread a multiplier of 27 more microbes than paper towels. Even the new burst blowers have a multiplier of five! I realize this sounds like a throwaway Sheldon line on "Big Bang Theory" but since this has an academic source it has at least been refereed somewhat, so probably not too far off.

This might be ok if towels were a ready alternative and folks could vote with their selection but my experience is that most of these places only have the blowers and frankly don’t care if they kill you. So the only way to vote is by absence. Which is hard if it’s a public school or governmental building.

On a more positive side, I see the campus of the Boneyard is having a Winter Holiday Chemistry Magic Show. [Link]

I have rather fond memories of such despite the rather distasteful association of science with magic. I find that chemists are more prone to do this than most science nerds, mostly because of their historical roots – supposedly! – as alchemists. Of course alchemy was marginally legal in most places and could get one an involuntary roasting or worse. But that’s all part of the bad boy of science image that a lot of chemists try to project. I suspect it’s the intimacy with ethanol and self-constructed controlled substances. Still the activity is both entertaining and educational; I know that one of the reasons I studied science, which includes chemistry, was due to George Toffel and his chemical demonstrations. Closer to the campus, I seem to recall Gil Haight doing some such although he wasn’t quite the showman George was. But the idea of the show does dispell some of the horror of the season.

And lastly, one of my colleagues sent me this cartoon:[Link]

yesterday during the interminable rain. I found that my weather app, from Weather Underground, performed admirably, provided data by the Yankee government’s National Weather Service, which has proven itself the last winter or so to be more accurate with its predictions than the local television weather beavers. And I don’t have to abide the grating idiocy of the news readers. It is a sad indictment of Amerikan television that the weather beavers are the (relatively) erudite ones.

Also, we should never forget that Mother Nature is a feminist.