Friday, April 28, 2006

Atlanta Driving

Atlanta Driving
copyright Patricia M. Shannon 2000
(all of this is true)

Driving on Atlanta's highways
can make me feel I've gone to hell.
Well, the reason is not hard to tell you,
pollution's killed off their brain cells.

When I'm driving the speed limit
the car behind me will pass and pull in front;
right away he'll start to slow down,
because to turn is what he wants.

But when I signal, then I slow down,
because a turn I want to take,
if he's behind me, he will hold his horn down,
he thinks the world is only made for his own sake.


For many miles I've been in a straight-ahead lane,
with many miles before I get to my next turn,
when suddenly this lane is now an exit,
with no warning that I could discern!

When I exit from the freeway,
the lane I choose has a stright arrow on the road,
but when I get down to the intersection,
this lane will only turn the way that I don't want to go.

I really can't believe it costs all than much to paint a bent arrow than a stright one.


When my road, merging with another,
puts me in the left lane where I don't want to be,
the car behind will tail-gate 'til a space comes,
then cut me off so he can get in front of me.

And yes, I had my turn signal on.

When I wait for a pedestrian,
or stop for a traffic light that's just turned red,
the car behind will start to honking,
are these people really so imbred?


Asteroids vs. Lottery

Scientists and mathematicians will point out that the probablity of winning the lottery is less than that of getting hit by an asteroid, and therefore it is irrational to buy lottery tickets. They base the figures on the probability that a given person will win the lottery or will be killed by and asteroid. Well, I can't deny the odds of winning the lottery are so low, it is not really raional to buy them; I also admit I buy one about once a week.

However, the scientists ignore some basic facts. The odds that any particular person (this means you) will win the lottery tomorrow are extremely low. However, the odds are 100 percent that SOMEONE will win the lottery, if not tomorrow, then in the near future. Whereas the odds that an asteroid will kill ANYBODY in the near future is very low. So I would argue it makes more sense to buy a lottery ticket than to buy insurance against getting hit by an asteroid.

However, in the long run, the odds are probably 100 percent that the earth will eventually be hit by an asteroid big enough to devastate life on earth, unless we develop means to detect and prevent this from happening. I wish I were more optimistic that our civilization will last long enough to do so; looking at the past history of human behaviour, and our current actions, I fear we are in the process of self-destructing. Society has gone in cycles of progress and decay many times, but what makes thing different now is our technology, and what we are doing with it.

U.S. Flag

Last year when I was working at a booth at the County Fair, we were giving out small U.S. flags to those who wanted them. One lady said she would have liked one, but she avoided getting flags because she was worried about what to do with them when they were worn out! It is pitiful that the right-wing has people so scared that they are afraid to fly the flag for such a reason!
I used to get tears in my eyes over the flag, but the right-wing extremists have spoiled it for me, making the flag more into a symbol of their mean hatefulness than what it should be, a symbol of my beloved country. To seek to put people in prison because they mistreat the flag is immature. It just gives the protestors attention, which is what they want. Just ignore them. What actual harm are they doing to our country, other than a little air pollution, which is nothing compare to our cars. My pets know the difference between a picture of a steak and the actual thing. It seems that the extreme right-wingers don't.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Saving gasoline

I have found a way to lower gas milage that I haven't seen elsewhere, at least not the specifics. Articles on reducing gas milage do recommend avoiding carrying heavy items around in the car on a continuing basis. But nobody else points out that gasoline is heavy. If you've ever run out of gas on the highway and had to carry a can of gas back to your car, you already know this!
Several years ago, I kept track of my gas milage when I filled up the tank every time I got gas, and then when I filled up about half-way each time. I got a noticable improvement when I only filled up half way. This should be no surprise, because the heavier your car, the more energy, i.e. gas, it takes to move it. Now I can understand that people might not have thought about it. Who has time to think about every conceivable aspect of the universe? But what I don't understand is people who say it can't be so. It's just simple physics and common sense. If someone doesn't believe it, it's easy to check it out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Earning" your way into music business

At songwriting forums, I have heard people in the music industry express the belief that songwriters should have to earn the right for their songs to be heard by writing a quantity of songs, over a period of time. This is an example of one of the problems with the music industry, why there is so much discontent by the public over what is available. A song is good or not good irregardless of how many other songs the writer wrote. If someone loves music, I would expect them to want a great song to be heard, even if it is the only song the writer ever wrote. Some of my favorite songs, which were great hits, were "one-hit wonders." I never heard anybody say that "To Kill a Mockingbird" should not be published because Harper Lee has chosen not to write anymore books, or at least not to publish any. The idea is ridiculous.

Of course, the problem is that the music business today is not being run by people who have a burning desire to bring great music to the public, but by business people whose burning desire is to make money. Of course, they have to make money to stay in business, but they are apparently lacking the ability to make the emotional connection to music that is necessary to choose great music.

Official secrets

A former CIA officer has been reported to have been fired for allegedly telling a reporter about alleged CIA secret detention operations in Eastern Europe.
Bush claims he wants to bring democracy to other countries, but he doesn't seem to want it in our own country. Why is the government sending people to be tortured in other countries, and hiding it from us? How can we have a democracy if we don't know what the government is doing? It seems to me that if the administration is doing this, and there is some evidence for it, that it is the duty of those who know to reveal it.
At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, it was ruled that obedience was not a defense. In the U.S. military, it is illegal for soldiers to obey illegal orders. But I forgot; according to Bush, whatever he does is legal, because he is the president. If he decides it to be necessary to do away with elections altogether for the good of the country, I guess that would be ok - not. Of course, he stole the election in 2000, and there is evidence it was stolen in 2004, in Ohio, so he didn't have to do away with elections in order to ensure that he would become president, without having to worry about being democratically elected by the citizens of the U.S.
It is especially hypocritical to the max for Bush to criticize others for leaking classified information. To authorize the leaking of the name of a CIA agent because her husband disagreed with Bush is an act of treason, in my opinion.

Monday, April 24, 2006

An effect of the "dumb" gene?

Somebody has come up with the idea of putting anti-virals into a wide variety of common items, such as doorknobs. Because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which kill bacteria but do not fight viruses, we have already caused the rise of dangerous bacteria that are mostly resistant to all known bacteria. People are dying from these bacteria. We don't have very many anti-virals. So now, somebody wants to make sure we create the conditions where the few anti-virals we have become useless. Is this a case of absolute stupidity, or of sociopaths for whom monetary gain is more important than the future of the human race? Or maybe its an example of someone who got his/her credentials by cheating. Eg., wealthy parents have been known to pay bright students to take college entrance exams in place of their own less bright children.

Wy do humans preserve "dumb" gene?

Recently, I read of genetic mutation that causes slower response times in a large variety of organisms. It was noted that this mutation was quickly cleared from the gene pool of all organisms except humans. Also, it was found that in people who have this mutation, the average IQ was lowered, although no effect on the IQ of an individual could be predicted. So why don't humans clear this mutation from our gene pool? I would guess that there are multiple reasons.

I would say that one obvious reason has to be that, at least in modern times, men prefer women who are less intelligence than themselves.

Another likely factor is that more intelligent people of both genders tend to have fewer children.

Also, it is probably desirable for complex human societies to have people of a variety of capabilities, because different jobs require different skills. In fact, one study found that people of average intelligence make the best drivers. Those with lower IQs had slower response times, causing them to be less able to avoid accidents. Those with higher IQs got bored, and were not able to maintain a focus on driving.

Maybe people with this mutation are less impulsive, and therefore less likely to get into fights, etc.

Maybe this mutation has a positive effect of some kind when paired with other genes.

I hope more is discovered about this during my life-time, as it really arouses my curiosity.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Why have young people lost interest in IT jobs?

It really is hard to understand why fewer young people are going into Information Technology (IT), or Computer Science (CS), or whatever they decide to call it next. Who wouldn't be eager to major in a subject for which it will be hard to get the first job, because they don't have experience. Then, if and when they finally do get an IT job, they will become obsolete every three years unless they are lucky enough to work for an employee who adopts the newest technology and allows them to work on it. If they take courses in the new technology, it doesn't help to get a new job, if one is needed or desired, because employers only want people with several years experience in that specific technology. Then when they get to be 40 years old, it gets increasingly difficult to find work in IT. If you're in your 50's, you may end up working at Waffle House, as a teacher's aide, on the floor of Home Depot (real life examples). There was a loss of 400,000 IT jobs between 2001 and 2004.
And business "persuaded" (aka bribed) Congress to change the overtime laws so they don't cover most IT professionals, so that they are often required to work 50-60 hours a week for a salary with no Overtime. Golly, who wouldn't jump at such a job.

Is this what we want our country to be?

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from two Chinese Muslims who were mistakenly captured as enemy combatants more than four years ago and are still being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba.
a federal judge said the detention of the ethnic Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay is unlawful, but that there was nothing federal courts could do.
Lawyers for the two contend they should be released, something the Bush administration opposes, unless they can go to a country other than the United States.
They cannot be returned to China because they likely will be tortured or killed.
German officials are being pressed to take them, according to a report over the weekend in a newspaper there.

brain hijacked by parasites?

You may have noticed the phenomenon that sometimes, right before getting sick, one has a burst of energy. I had thought it might be the bodies way of preparing for downtime; esp., getting well fed. (Talking to others, they had the same thought).
However, after learning of the effects of certain parasites on their host's behaviour, I see another possibility. Eg., there is a parasite that that infects worms or catapillars, and causes them to climb to the top of grass stems, where they are more likely to be eaten by cattle, which are required for the completion of the parasite's life cycle. There is a parasite of mice that causes them to be attracted to cats, for the same reason.
So when we get that burst of energy just before getting sick, maybe it's the germs' way of keeping us up and about while we spread them to others. And/or maybe it's their way of getting us to get well-nourished so that they will benefit.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

blood shortage and conservatives

I read recently that conservatives are having more children than liberals. We can see the results in the continually low supplies of blood. From my experience of company blood drives, conservatives rarely give blood. I am 5 feet tall, weigh just enough to give blood (a little over 110 lb), have a low threshhold of pain, and have given blood at least 8 times, and plan to give more. When I have been able to persuade/shame tall, healthy conservaties to give blood, the poor things are absolutely traumatized afterwards. But these wimps are eager to send other people to war and inflict torture on others.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I have heard some people think lip balm is addictive, that one's body comes to be dependent on it. That is a feasible idea. Our bodies adapt to conditions. But also, if you have been using lip balm, it's probably because you had dry lips in the first place. If you stop using it, there's no reason to think you won't still have dry lips. We would need a controlled, scientific study to determine the facts of the matter. Now, I don't consider this to be important enough for a scientific study, I'm just raising the issue because it's a simple, easily understood situation that shows our first instincts about a matter may be wrong.

return to New Orleans?

I can fully understand why people who fled the flooding of New Orleans long to return to their homes. But is that necessarily the best thing for them? The poor miss the support of their social networks, of course. But there is also the problem that people, especially children, living in a neighborhood where everybody is poor, learn to be poor. New Orleans had a low average standard of living before the storm. Some people might be better off in the long run in a more prosperous area, where they can get better-paying jobs. I realize hypothesizing about a possibly better future doesn't help people who are grieving over their losses now. I myself had to relocate, leaving my friends, in order to find work awhile back. lost my house to repossession when I couldn't find a job several years ago. I hope for the best for the victims of Katrina and Rita.

Cut project time in half

If you think you can cut the project time in half by doubling the number of people working on it, then I expect you believe that two pregnant women can give birth to a full-term baby in 4 1/2 months. :-)


Some people are trying to block legal, voluntary euthanasia. Some disabled say it sends the message that they are disposable. I really disagree. The reason I support voluntary euthanasia for some people is that it would give them power. I dread the possible that I might be in great suffering, but not have the means to escape - to be powerless over my own fate. I have seen my grandfather and mother die from lung disease (caused by smoking), suffering for years. Since I had bronchitis years ago, I know how horrible it is not to be able to get enough oxygen. My grandmother died from cancer. She chose to end her suffering by stopping eating. I really don't see starving oneselves to death to be preferable to euthanasia.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

PMS tea

I recently saw mention of still another study of the causes of PMS; I expect it's sponsored by a drug company hoping to make big profits. This is a big problem. When I had this problem, besides the bad mood and bodily discomfort caused by water retention, it felt like my brain was bloated, which evidently it was. Natural food people have known for years that PMS can be treated with herbal diuretics, which cause the body to get rid of fluid. There is even an herbal "PMS tea". Also, there are pills with herbal extracts. They are inexpensive, and they work. So it seems to me that scientists' time could be better spent on other matters.

When does soul begin?

Some say the soul begins when a cell is fertilized. But what about identical twins, Siamese twins, and chimera?

Of course, identical twins and Siamese twins start out as a single fertilized cell. So, according to this theory, they start out with a single soul. But surely each identical twin has its own soul. (I'm using "its" to avoid boring repetitions of his/her).

Chimera start out as fraternal twins whose cells merge, so that the person has cells that originated from two separate fertilized eggs. So, there are two souls to start out with, for what turns out to be a single individual.

Siamese twins start out as a single fertilized cell, which goes part-way to being identical twins. There may be two mostly separate bodies sharing a small band of tissues or sharing major organs. There might be mostly one body with one head and more than two arms. And various other combinations. Are there one or two souls?

It should be possible for a chimera to end up being Siamese or semi-identical twins, but I think we already have enough options to show the problems.

My feeling is that there is a soul for each distinct brain. I wonder what other people might think/feel.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The beginning of the end?

I have long believed that we are likely to develop technology, or technologies, that will accidentally cause our own extinction, as well as those of other species. I would say we are already on the way, if you look at such things as decreasing sperm counts in men, and increasing rates of childhood cancer. We are continually putting increased amounts and kinds of pollution into our environment, many of which take decades, even hundreds of years to break down. Combinations of some chemicals can have a far greater effect than would be predicted from their individual actions.

Scientist are currently developing a kind of antibiotic that could do the job fairly quickly. If it gets into widespread use, and bacteria develop a resistance to it, as they have to all other antibiotics, they would also be immune to our own bodies' defences against bacteria. It is claimed that bacteria will be unable to develop resistance to them; of course, our technology always produces side effects we didn't foresee. They say they will test that bacteria will not be able to develop resistance before they put it into widespread use. But how can they guarantee that the bacteria will not eventually do so?

If we manage to survive direct effects from our own technology, I believe they might still be our downfall. I expect that we will eventually develop a dependency on technology for our survival. Eg., the antibiotics such as the ones mentioned above. Actually, we have already started doing so. Over a long period of time, human bodies will become less able to defend themselves against bacteria. When mutations occur that weaken our immunity, those that have them do not die because they are treated with antibiotics. So, the genes will continue in the gene pool. Many women may need artificial hormones to conceive and carry a child to term. Our bodies will become weaker because of dependency on machines, etc. There will come a catastrophe, such as severe global warming, or a hit by an asteroid, that might not kill everybody, but would devastate the planet so much that we might lose the technologies on which we have become dependent for our existence. The combination might well do us in. Societies in the past have lost knowledge of technologies. How many of us know how to mine ore, and do all the steps necessary even to make a simple ax, much less something like a car? But there will always be those who tell us, for the sake of short-term profits and convenience, that we needn't worry about such things until they have been proven without an eyelash of doubt. Of course, by then, it will be too late.

The existence of our species, with its ability to understand the world, and appreciate the wonder of the universe, is wonderful. But, since we seem to be unwilling or unable to refrain from devastating our environment, on which we depend, I guess we have to accept that if we cause our own extinction, we will have proved that we did not deserve to continue.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

effects of immigrants on the poor

NPR had an interview with international economic advisor Adam Davidson on the effect of large numbers of legal immigrants on the U.S. economy. He argued that they don't hurt the economy because they things they buy creates enough new jobs to offset the number that they take, and they keep prices low. He claims that low-wage workers are not hurt. He totally ignored the fact that there are so many immigrants from Mexico, that many low-wage jobs, and the low-level management jobs, now require employees to be bi-lingual in English and Spanish. This makes it harder for most low-skilled U.S. born citizens to get ahead.
Also, he said that the "average" citizen benefits about 1% from illegal immigrants, because they hold prices down. This sounds like all those other defenders of the current economy who talk about the economic situation of the "average" American, when they are really talking about the average for all Americans. The very small upper class is doing so well, it distorts the economic statistics.

Monday, April 03, 2006

My Computer Has a Mind of Its Own

My Computer Has a Mind of its Own
copyright Patricia M. Shannon 1998
(Can be sung to the tune : My Heart Has a Mind of its Own,
sung by Connie Francis)

I said to my PC, You are so mean to me,
why did you lose the file that my boss wants right now to see?
I try to type in “GO”, but my machine says “NO”!
Guess my computer has a mind of its own.

I never thought I’d be in abject slavery
to a glass and metal box on my desktop.

My deadline is past due; all my machine will do
is tell me “System Error SJ19342”.
I can’t save my spreadsheet, must Control-Alt-Delete.

Guess my computer has a mind of its own.
Yes, my computer has a mind of its own.