What did you say you are researching?

May 1, 2008

***EDIT: After posting about silly research this morning, Mr. Dan Meyer, one of the authors of the “Sword Swallowing” study was kind enough to comment on the post (see “comments”). After reading over his response, I have to agree that any research that helps save lives is well worthwhile, and for that I sincerely commend him (although I must admit, any study titled “Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects” is good for a laugh). No offense intended, Mr. Meyer, and keep up the good work! … BTW, isn’t a sure-fire way to prevent sword swallowing related injuries simply to not swallow swords?

While browsing the news headlines today I came across a pretty funny one…

The headline read: “Alcohol linked to aggression”.

Really? What a surprise…

After reading the article (found here: http://health.msn.com/health-topics/addiction/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100202148&GT1=31033) I discovered that someone ( a group of people, actually) took a sample of 12 people, got them hammered, and scanned their brains to find the effects of alcohol. The research was time consuming and relatively expensive. What was the result, you ask?

The result showed exactly what anyone who has ever been drunk could tell you from experience… alcohol makes you think about sex and violence.

Why do I care, you ask?

As a grad student, I am always interested by the research that ends up getting published… It seems that some “academicians” like to research things just for the sake of researching things.

As a matter of fact, there is now an award dedicated to stupid research. Known as the Ig Nobel Prize, the award is given to academicians engaged in the most idiotic research in their area for the year. I recommend you visit http://www.improbable.com and take a look at some of the winners.

Last year, the winners included such time wasting research efforts as “Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects” in the area of Medicine, “Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension” in Physics (this was a study on why sheets wrinkle), and my personal favorite, “Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats” in the area of Linguistics, which showed that rats cannot tell the difference between someone speaking Japanese backwards and Dutch backwards.

So the next time you start to think that a friend in grad school or the PhD down the street might be really intelligent, ask them what they are researching… the results may surprise you.

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Are you kidding me?

April 4, 2008

I am almost ashamed to say what I am about to say…

Today is my dog’s birthday (as best any of us can tell, seeing as how we adopted her).

Let the festivities begin.

Some quick background info:

We adopted Aries, a mix-breed Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd, about a year and a half ago from the Humane Society. She was about 6 months old. My girlfriend decided that since she was about 6 months old, and since April was about six months before we adopted her, and since her name was “Aries” (the astrological sign dominant in April), that her birthday should be in April. She then chose the 4th of April as the day, since 4/4 is easy to remember (very scientific, huh?).

So today is Aries birthday. She will be showered with attention, food, toys, etc… until midnight, and maybe even through tomorrow.

On my birthday, I think I may have heard a couple people jokingly ask how it felt to be “a quarter century old”, and may have gotten a hug… I guess I just don’t measure up to the dog.

So here is to Aries… Happy Birthday, and many more!


SAD, CISD, RLS, and other wonders of the world of modern medicine.

March 28, 2008

I think I have SAD, RLS, and CISD… it looks like my medical costs could get pretty expensive…

WARNING! This is a rant! Doctors, people studying to be doctors, and people who are easily offended should RELAX before reading this post (it is, after all, intended to be humorous)!

Has anyone noticed that anything and everything that goes wrong is now a medical condition? I was struck the other day when I stumbled upon some information about “caffeine induced sleep disorder”… it turns out that doctors have decided that this is a real medical condition affecting a huge number of people… the cause? You guessed it! Drinking too much caffeine before you try to go to sleep! Heck, if you’ve got a bad enough case of CISD, you can even be medicated for it! And here I thought that the easy fix for this one was the advice mom gave me when I was 3 (“If you drink all that sugar and caffeine before bed, you won’t be able to sleep, and when you finally get to sleep you’ll piss the bed!”).

Next up: SAD. This gem stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”… If you have SAD, then you feel normal for the whole year but get depressed in the winter… they even have “reverse SAD”, where you feel normal the whole year but get depressed in the summer. I definitely have this. As a matter of fact, anyone who lives anywhere that has a winter has this. If you live in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, or any other northern state and you don’t have this, you are either a total weirdo or a real jackass (sorry, I refer to people who like Ohio’s winter as jackasses). I thought that the explanation was that winter sucks. I’ve usually dealt with SAD by going out with my friends, getting drunk, having a conversation going something like “Man, winter sucks… I can’t wait for summer”, getting up the next day and going about my business. It turns out that this approach is all wrong… evidently I need medicine. Let’s face it: Winter is no fun, and you better damn believe that medicine designed to make you feel better will make you feel better, so why deal with a shitty winter ever again?

Finally, we have reached my favorite… RLS. “Restless Leg Syndrome”, or perhaps better known by its common name of “The Jimmy Legs”. This is another one that I have had since I was about 3. I thought it was from consuming too many “Monster” energy drinks, 3000 calorie burritos, and “nuclear” squirms (sour gummy worms, my favorite) and not being able to keep my hyped-up legs still. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and continuously move my feet, and I seem to be unable to stop… a sure sign of the dreaded Jimmy Legs. I used to treat this by running, jogging, or lifting weights, a sure fire way to burn off the excess energy that I have always thought caused the Jimmy Legs… but it turns out that I need medicated for this one too! They even treat this one with opioids, such as oxycodone and methodone (what the hell?!!)! Ironically, CISD can be a cause of RLS!

Another interesting fact: the occurrence of autism has increased drastically since 1980. Has the prevalence of autism actually increased? Doctors are divided on this one. But they can all agree that the medical community has broadened the definition of autism, which by default will raise the prevalence of the condition.

Here is my point: If we try hard enough, we can probably qualify anything as a medical condition. I wonder what made-up conditions will be affecting us next… I can see the headline now…

Have trouble getting to work on time? You may have CLTW, or “Chronically Late To Work” syndrome, caused by depression associated with having to show up at the same place at the same time everyday.

It may not exist yet, but I can GUARANTEE that some sort of chemical reaction takes place in my brain at just the thought of work, and it ain’t too different from depression, and it is only a matter of time until a doctor or drug company capitalizes on this.

Do we really need all of these “conditions”? I’d be more comfortable to know that my kids will grow up knowing that winter sucks, just like I did, rather than thinking that they have been “afflicted” with SAD. And that is not to mention the rising cost of health care… could it be partly a result of insurance companies having to “pay up” for people affected with the Jimmy Legs?

What is the world coming to?!?


Tuesdays with Tyson – March 4, 2008

March 4, 2008

Here is a real short but powerful one from Iron Mike:

 “I’m on the Zoloft to keep from killing y’all.”

Funny stuff.


Tuesdays with Tyson – February 19, 2008

February 20, 2008

This week we have a little bit of a change-up in the form of a couple of quotes from Don King, one of Boxing’s greatest promoters:

“I can’t believe what I said about myself. What I said in my own private conversations with myself to an ESPN producer are my business, and I had no business saying them to someone else.”

Wow, hilarious.

And one of my favorite Don King quotes:

I can’t believe that having said what I said was interpreted as having been what I said when I said it, because I said it where I said it, when I said it, and who I said it to.

See you next week!


Tuesdays with Tyson – Feb. 12, 2008

February 12, 2008

Today’s quote was directed at the media:

 “If I take this camera and put it in your face for 20 years, I don’t know what you might be. You might be a homosexual if I put that camera on you since you were 13 years old. I’ve been on that camera since I was 13 years old.”

Yep, classic Tyson.


Tuesdays with Tyson

January 22, 2008

Tyson

Some quick background: Throughout middle school and high school I was fascinated by boxing (more specifically, boxers). Let’s face it… combine a couple of angry, amped up muscle heads (with little to no education), a tiny ring enclosed by ropes, and give some prize money to whoever knocks the crap out of the other dude, and you have a recipe for some pretty entertaining stuff.

So from here on out, every Tuesday I will have a quick write up featuring some funny stuff from the world of boxing, often featuring Mike Tyson simply because he is a wealth of material.

Let’s start with a quote from Mr. Tyson himself:

“He called me a ‘rapist’ and a ‘recluse’. I’m not a recluse!”

Hilarious stuff.

Another one of my favorites came in an interview while Mr. Tyson was speaking about his childhood:

“One morning I woke up and found my favorite pigeon, Julius, had died. I was devastated and was gonna use his crate as my stickball bat to honor him. I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get something and I returned to see the sanitation man put the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand… he was out cold, convulsing on the floor like a infantile retard.”