Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deck the Malls

Deck the malls with plastic reindeer,
Christmas can be such a pain, dear.
Muzak carols on the speaker,
Fa-la-la La-la-la La-la-la
Make December even bleaker,
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la

Traffic slow as cold molasses
Step inside and fog your glasses
Slushy sidewalk, gotta clear it
Fa-la-la La-la-la La-la-la
Puts me in the Christmas spirit.
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la

Monday, November 19, 2007

Well, that was a waste of time....

....but in a good way.

IF (You've read or seen Lord of the Rings AND you ever played Dungeons & Dragons)
THEN (You absolutely have to waste the next three hours or so reading through this webcomic)

Thanks to Scott Hatfield of Monkey Trials for causing me to squander most of my free-reading time this last weekend on it. But no hard feelings ;-).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Alumni Dollars At Work

Sometime back in pre-history, I took an engineering degree at a college in a town nick-named the Limestone City (which tells you that it was, at least, later than the Paleozoic, or the limestone wouldn't have been there yet). Now from my alma mater comes news of truly ground-breaking research: women do not, repeat NOT, walk more sexily at fertile times of the month than at other times.

Really. They don't. You're astonished, right? I mean, you were lying awake at night, wondering about that, weren't you?

I feel so proud of the dear old place.

In case you were wondering how they figured this out, here is the summary:
[Dr. Provost] analysed the gait of female volunteers, showed video clips to 40 men, asking them to rate the attractiveness of the way the women walked, and then matched the results to the hormone tests.
This being a university, of course the test subjects were no doubt all undergrads recruited to make a few bucks in the cause of science. Think about that one for a minute: you're a 20yo male, and someone asks you to spend a few hours watching videos of campus babes strutting their stuff, and rating them on it.

And for this they're actually going to pay you?

There is of course a postulated explanation:

She now thinks the findings tally with other research suggesting that women want to conceal their ovulation from males other than their chosen partner. A sexy walk would be too obvious, so women are thought to use changes in smell and facial expressions that can be experienced only at close range.

Hmmm...smacks a bit of Evolutionary Psychology to me. I ain't opening that can of worms. Besides, what I really want to know is: why weren't they doing that kind of research when I was an undergrad?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Charles who?

"Tell me again who Charles Darwin is?"

This would have been a delightful and charming request from a young child at bedtime. Unfortunately, it was not bedtime, and the person asking the question was not a child. She was, in fact, the contact for special events facility rental at the CANADIAN MUSEUM OF NATURE!!!!!

I had been attempting to book a room for a festive dinner, hosted by the Humanist Association of Ottawa, to commemorate Chuck’s 200th/TOS’s 150th. In the course of getting information, I mentioned that the event I was booking was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin, and also asked if she knew whether the Museum had any special Darwin events planned for 2009. She asked me who Darwin was. I explained that I was referring to Charles Darwin, who developed of the Theory of Evolution. She still had no idea who I was talking about.

I suppose I must admit that there may be many fully functional and educated adults who do not know who Darwin is. And I can certainly understand that many people who are not “into” science and/or history could not produce Darwin’s name if asked about evolution, and many others would not remember what Darwin did if asked about the name. And, I must say that the facility booking co-ordinator was very nice, and provided all the information I was asking for, and even passed on my request for information about 2009 Darwin events to someone in the educational programming department (and *she* knew who Darwin was). But I still can’t wrap my mind around the concept that any employee of our national natural history museum would not even recognize the name.

[For anyone in the Ottawa area who might be interested in attending Darwin celebration events, we are still working on dates, and unfortunately, the museum will only book 6 months in advance. Watch this blog for more information.]