Keeping warm at Lambeau Field in Green Bay

December 9, 2012

Lambeau Field in the snow, Green Bay fan's view

Picture from the end zone (a favorite place for true Green Bay fans) during a football game at Lambeau Field, with weather much like tonight’s game. (photo via Tumblr for FullMetalStarterJacket).  This is a color picture.

Dad texts the kids:

“You guys got what you need to stay warm [at Lambeau Field in Green Bay]?”

Kids answer:

“We have plenty of green body paint.”

The rear of the horse that measles rode in on

May 23, 2010

Why would people fail to inoculate their kids against measles, and thereby contribute to deadly epidemics?

There was this guy in Britain, Andrew Wakefield, who published a study suggesting a link between measles vaccines and autism.  But it turned out his research didn’t support that claim.  Then it turned out he was under contract to produce a paper that made that claim regardless the science, for a lawsuit.

Darryl Cunningham's graphic account of measles vaccine hysteria, one page

A page from Darryl Cunningham's graphic account of measles vaccine hysteria, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield." TallGuyWrites (Darryl Cunningham)

Darryl Cunningham created a concise, 15-page graphic accounting of the story of how the misdeeds of one physician led to a world-wide, child-killing panic.  If you do not know the story, go read it.  You should be troubled by the story it tells.  Be sure to read it through.  Cunningham is thorough in his debunking of the hysteria the anti-vaxxers promote, and you should know it all.

Darryl Cunningham's graphic story, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield"

Another page from Darryl Cunningham's graphic story, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield" about the motivations behind the hysteria.

Then send a copy to Jenny McCarthy, or anyone else who carries the torch of ignorance-based hysteria against vaccines and in favor of disease.

Dr. Wakefield’s original paper was retracted by the publisher — it’s no longer considered valid science.  It’s a hoax.  No subsequent research confirmed any links to autism.  Serious, large-scale follow-up studies revealed no connection whatsoever between measles vaccine and autism.

Measles is a nasty disease, tough to eradicate, and working hard to come back and get your children and grandchildren.  Don’t be suckered.

Andrew Wakefield created a hoax.  Those who rely on his study rely on bogus science, voodoo science.  History tells us that, if we stop the fight against measles, people will die.

Would you contribute to publishing this comic for distribution in pediatrician’s waiting rooms?


Tip of the old scrub brush to JD 2718.

Great animation: “The Chesnut Tree”

March 14, 2010

Wonderful film from 2007, by Hyun-min Lee.  I found it on PBS World this weekend, and then found a YouTube version.

Watch it with your young children.


Geographical lottery: Gambling with health care

August 4, 2009

Is it true that kids can’t get insured in Texas if their parents have two vehicles?  I mean, this is Texas, the anti-mass transit state — how can you get a kid to the emergency room for the high-cost health care if you don’t have two cars, one for work, one for the family?

Children’s Defense Fund will help you contact your legislators to recommend improving health care for children.

How is the insurance weather where you are? Share the news:

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It takes a choir to sing, “It takes a village”

August 4, 2009

Kathryn sings with the Arlington Master Chorale.  Last week they performed for the Texas Choir Directors Association Convention in San Antonio.  Randy Jordan leads and directs the group.

Before the San Antonio performance, they sang the program at St. Marks Episcopal Church in Arlington, a beautifully spare performance space suited well to a hundred good, mature voices.

Joan Szymko‘s “It Takes A Village” made a stunning and rousing finale for the concert.  The piece opens with the choir tapping their chests for a heartbeat rhythm, which by itself stirs an audience when performed by so many.  It features a simple melody and lyric, though inspiring when done en masse or with a good solo.

And it packs an integral political message.  The text is that same phrase that became a watershed between conservatives and liberals in the 1990s.

Cut to the chase:  Hillary Clinton was right, and so especially was the Children’s Defense Fund right, and Jane Cowen-Fletcher right, about our collective obligation to raise the next generations.  When pared down to the basic claim as sung by a good or ambitious choir, it’s an inspiration.

It takes a whole village to raise the children.
It takes the whole village to raise one child.

We all — everyone — must share the burden.
We all — everyone — will share the joy.

Some music is best experienced live, and this may be one.  There are several recordings of this piece available on YouTube, not one done so well as the Arlington Master Chorale last week in my opinion (the choir directors loved it, too, I hear).

Here are two performances of the piece, each done very differently from the other.  Until some enterprising group makes a more polished and better recorded video of the Arlington group, these will have to do (there are other versions on YouTube).

It is particularly spine-tingling to hear and see it performed by our children.  When sung with gusto, the thought transcends and soars over politics.  Song tells truths of the heart that politics needs to hear, and feel, and experience.

The Oklahoma All-State Choir

Oklahoma All-State Choir

Performed by the 2009 All-OMEA Mixed Chorus (Oklahoma All-State Choir).
Clinician: Johnathan Reed
Accompanist: Ron Wallace

Mt. Eden, Tennyson High and Hayward High Honor Choir at Chabot College (California)

Are there good, commercially-available recordings of this song?  Please note them in comments.  If you are a commercial music producer, I recommend the Arlington Master Chorale’s performance for recording.


Chemistry: No fun if nothing explodes

November 1, 2007

Our house had two or three of the things around from my three older brothers — you know, the old Gilbert or Chemcraft chemistry sets, complete with potentially dangerous chemicals, test tubes, an alcohol lamp, a couple of beakers and stands, and instructions for how to make cool reactions with warnings about not making things explode.

chemistry glassware with colored water

We all made things explode, of course. That’s the fun stuff. Making jellied alcohol was fun, too — older brother Wes did that at Halloween, as I recall, the better to make a flaming hand (once was enough, thanks). We didn’t worry so much about the poisonous qualities of hydrogen sulfide, as we did worry about how to claim somebody else was suffering from flatulence when we made it. The kits and their metal boxes were in poor repair by the time I got around to them, but other kids in the neighborhood had new ones, and we always had the labs at the junior high and high school, which were stocked with enough dangerous stuff to keep us on the edge of blowing up the school, we thought (probably incorrectly).

One sign of laboratory experience: The acid holes in the Levi jeans. Older son Kenny recently discovered these things still happen in a lab at college. It had never occurred to him to worry about it before — one of his favorite t-shirts, too. (Holes in clothes appear not to be the fashion statement they were for his parents . . .)

12 Angry Men laments the wussification of these old chemistry sets. No danger anymore, he says.

Someone in comments claims you can still get the dangerous stuff.

But someone else claims such kits may be illegal under Homeland Security and DEA rules. Heck, they say even Erlenmeyer flasks are illegal in Texas. They used to be very popular among the secretaries in the biology department because they made such fine vases for the single-stemmed flowers their grad-student admirers could afford. Gotta see what’s up with that.

Technology changes so you can’t get it anymore.

But, kids with solid chemistry experience make more money in the real world — especially chemical engineers. Here’s a Catch-22: Kids can make more money if they have the experience to get the job, but they can’t get the experience until they get the job.

Update, November 1:  The PBS/Wired Science segment on kids doing chemistry, and chemistry sets

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