Gimmicks

So I’m kicking back on the couch, watching some show on the boob tube, and this commercial comes on. Looks like Gillette has a new fancy razor that operates on a ball swivel. Apparently it does all of this incredible manly stuff like…shave. I admit I was a slow starter for facial hair. By the time I was 16 I had to maybe shave maybe once a week. Since then I have seen all kinds of gimmicky razors come down the pike.

I remember those old man razors, the all metal housing, twin side shavers that you have to put razor blades in. I saw many of them growing up, but by the time I actually needed to shave both Bic and Gillette had disposable single side razors in plastic housings that did what they were supposed to do. Shave.

Next thing you know they have a new razor, that is twice as good, it has two blades! I admit I used them for a while. You know what they did? Shave.

Now once the twin blade had been established they came out with a 3 blade razor…then a 4 blade razor, because you know, you could never have possibly shaved with a single blade…right?

Now the ball swivel razor. The absolute modern must have tool for following the contours of a manly face. The hot rod of shavers, it puts all the others to shame. It must, according to the manly man voice hawking them be the bestest razor of all time. You know what it does? Shave.

I must be turning into a grumpy, crotchety old geezer. All I see anymore is some new gimmick on the TV commercials. The new must have thingy! The one thing no one can live without! The new uber gadget with onboard spraying devices and flashing lights and happy faces peddling them. You know what they do? Mop.

I have seen some new gadget that looks like a hot plate, that looks pretty neat. It heats the pan, but is cool to the touch. That is a pretty cool detail, but I have a stove that does the same exact job. Do I really need another gadget cluttering up the counter, or collecting dust in the cabinet? …no.

I swear every commercial peddling some new gimmicky item that does the same job as a time proven device that already exists and does the exact same job, is an insult to my intelligence. Especially the commercials that show some inept fool bumbling around with the “old school tool”, whose life would be made so much better with the brand X super impressive thingy! C’mon man.

The new exciting multi bladed solar powered slap chopper! I have a sharp knife and a cutting board…thanks. The super duper teeny blender! I have a time tested blender on the counter, it has made many a margarita and with any luck will make a thousand more. The amazing doo dad that does amazing doo dad stuff! I think I am past the amazing doo dad point in my life. Hell by the time I get the amazing doo dad prepped, plugged in, and selected the proper doo dad setting, I could have handled the problem with a paper towel.

Now there have been some real achievements through the years, Formula 409 is a good cleaner. The scrubbing bubbles thing…not so much, a gimmick. The cheap disposable razor was quite the invention, it works, in its simplest form. Edge shaving gel is by far the best improvement made in the shaving department in the last 30 years. It far surpasses the old school Barbasol stuff, if a new item actually makes a large improvement over the old item I wouldn’t consider it a gimmick. My wife has a non stick meatloaf pan with a drip pan, that thing works great. The microwave may be one of the best gadgets ever. The refrigerator as well. Washers and dryers have improved everyones standard of living. There are things that have made their way into everyone’s homes that do a specific job well.

The gimmick isn’t even something new, it is a gadget that performs the same exact task as an existing tool. It is peddled to the masses as the newest, bestest, must have item…and I suspect since I see so much of this crap, people buy them. As much as I dislike it, the gimmick advertising apparently works. Though I often wonder how well these gimmick items actually work, and do they hold up to normal use? My gut tells me probably not so much. But what the hey, for an additional $4.95 plus handling charges you can get two!

I just wish the next new gadget would be on par with the fridge or the microwave. Instead of the same old crap in a shiny new package. Like a fricken razor on a ball swivel. Maybe if they would put 42 blades in it, and attach that ball swivel razor to a V-8 engine, we would have something interesting? It would be by far the meanest manly razor ever! When they come out with one like this, remember you saw it here first!

Quote of the Month

Posting for me has been slow of late, busy busy busy. We made another trip to the Frankstown fossil site, I still sorta have hawks around, no lack of things to blog about, just a lack of time to do so. I have my old work boat backed up into the shop now. It needs a new floor and a facelift. I am no longer working out of it, but it will still make a suitable fishing boat. We had a large tree go down a couple of days ago, right behind the house, missed the house by 20 ft, thank goodness. It is still lying there expecting to be dismantled and carted away, of course if there is any good wood left in this old dead tree I will use it for firewood come winter.

Anyway, back to blogging business. Let’s go old school this time, back to the original founding father quotes. This time James Madison on the use of gov’t land for churches.

“”The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches.

Yes indeed folks, religion, the ultimate tribal ingroup. We are better than everyone else! So much so you are shit beneath our feet. So much so we can do whatever we please, be it murdering you by the thousands, taking your lands, raping your women. Holy wars, inquisitions, genocides, swordtip conversions, witch hunts, wanton murder, may the streets run red with blood because our dog is better than yours!

This is why we have separation of church and state. This is why we need to keep it. Funny how well over 200 years since this quote was made, you can look around the world today and still see these pleasant side effects of religion…

http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

Our Mini Vacation and Fossil Hunt

My brother has been telling me about this site in Mississippi that has 75 million year old shark teeth and other abundant fossils washing out in a creek. We have tossed about the idea of making the trip, we scheduled one for 2 weeks ago and we promptly had a 3 day deluge making it pretty much impossible to go around wading in any creek. Then this past weekend, Sat 21st, June, we managed to hook up and make our way to northern Mississippi.

We were slow out of the gate, we didn’t get out of here till 9 AM and met up with my little brother, who happens to be 6′ 3″ and 265 lb. He is at least 3″ taller than me, outweighs me by 50 lb. and honestly we don’t get to see enough of each other. We always have a good time when we manage to get together. Our expedition consisted of my brother and his 5 year old, high functioning autistic son, and me and my wife along with the 2 brats still living at home, both boys 17 & 12.

We arrived at Twenty Mile Creek located near Frankstown Miss., right off of State Route Hwy 45, just around lunchtime. This is a well known fossil hunting site that requires no permit or fee to participate. When we arrived the place was busy, apparently 2 archeology clubs decided that the day we managed to make it, was some sort of field trip for them. After a 3 hour drive and 2 years of planning we were not to be dissuaded and we grabbed our gear and waded in amongst the fray.

This is what greets you at the site:

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My brother being a return visitor had 3 shaker boxes built, which we managed to aquire 2. These boxes measure around 18 x 24 inside diameter, with a hardware cloth grate probably in the 1/4 inch range. We were also packing a couple of hand held gardening tools, two resembling a small spade shovel, and I had a short flathead shovel as well. We divided into 3 groups and started digging. You dig up material from the creek bed and drop it into the shaker box, then with the box still in water, shake. This obviously removes the sand and grit and leaves an assortment of filtered material to sift through.

Right away the shark teeth were being found with my brother and my elder brat (brat 1) having the more significant luck. They were consistently saying “oh look another one” and “hey look at this” or “so you find anything yet?” Let’s not forget this one, “look for the pointy things.” After the first hour I had not found the 1’st tooth and these guys were raking them in, and not a bit afraid to rib me about my terrible luck. At one point I told my brother I was wielding a shovel, a multi purpose tool, fit for whacking someone over the head with, AND digging the hole to put ‘em in. There were puns and jabs and much good natured back and forth.

At some point my wife fell and scraped up her shin pretty good, and she retired from the dig. Eventually I started to have a little bit of luck finding a few teeth and other assorted fossils. By the time we decided to take lunch we had been there for 3 hours, and were well in need of a break. After an hour or so, the consensus of the group was to call it a day on the dig. We did however decide to hike the creek for a bit. We went downstream first, there was supposed to be some sort of waterfall, we got there and it was essentially a dammed up spot that created a spillway of sorts. Unimpressed we turned back and hiked upstream for a bit. It was during this leg I found a pretty cool shell later identified as a “exogyra ponderosa” a nice specimen, probably weighing in at nearly 3 lb.

When we got home the tooth count went like this: Brat one 82 teeth! (some only partials.) Brat two 29 teeth, two of which tentatively (maybe, possibly) identified as mosasaur teeth (one whole, one broken). My count was a paltry 13 teeth, a few assorted fossils, and one big shell. My brother had I think around 20 teeth.

Probably worth mentioning is the sunburn on my legs, it was hot, sunny, and the water unusually warm for a creek. Safe to say though we had a ball, and are busy planning our return. A trip to Lowe’s today will snag me a couple of 2×4’s and some hardware cloth. Also have been busy looking for some Riker mounts, after a return trip or two we will have some decent (and no longer cheap!) way of presenting our finds. These Riker mounts used to be much cheaper than they are now. Safe to say though that brat 1 has enough to fill a display case already! 82 teeth… Get this, perhaps a dozen of the teeth he found, was on our creek walk! He would sift through other people’s trailings and find teeth they had missed! After my embarrasing day, I felt like smacking him upside the head a couple of times just for good measure :)

After some Googling I found a document assessing the Frankstown site, a comprehensive study identifying the fossils there. It also details the discovery of the site among other things. This doc (Adobe file) is now saved on my hard drive for frequent access. You can see this doc here: http://www.deq.state.ms.us/Mdeq.nsf/pdf/Geology_Circular-AGuideToTheFrankstownVertebrateFossilLocalityUpperCretaceous_PrentissCountyMississippi/$File/Circular%204.pdf?OpenElement  EDIT: I have no idea why my luck with posting links is roughly equal to my luck at finding shark teeth, but a copy/paste will get you there.

The score! :

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…and finally my pitiful take, with some assorted, as of yet unidentified fossils. To be sure, all of the teeth identified here are at best tentative, I am a total noob in this area of study. I have my learning cap on though.

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Last but not least my Exogyra Ponderosa Ponderosa (I have no idea why some species must be identified with redundancy) :

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…and side 2:

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That’s it for this trip. There will be more. This stuff is too fun!

 

Quote of the Month

In honor of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the Cosmos series final episode. I feel like the new Cosmos complimented the old Cosmos very well. Adding a modern feel and understanding to the pioneering work of the first series. Much praise to both men who stamped their presence upon science and humanity. I raise my glass to NDT and Carl Sagan. Oh and a quote from NDT:

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Schizophrenia is not Demonic Possession

shelldigger:

I heard somewhere (perhaps over @ WEIT) about this silly demon paper that was published in some silly creationist pretend journal. I was quite pleased to see this post in my reader this morning. A smackdown well worthy of my very first actual re-blog. If you haven’t heard about “Debunking Denialism” …it is a good one to follow.

Originally posted on Debunking Denialism:

Demons?

The Journal of Religion and Health is an allegedly peer-reviewed journal that claims to “explores the most contemporary modes of religious and spiritual thought with particular emphasis on their relevance to current medical and psychological research.” In addition to clinical and statistical papers, they also make room for papers that are “impressionistic” or “anecdotal”. With an impact factor of around 0.8, it barely gets more citations than the average crank journal.

A recent paper published in this publication cements this views. Without any scientific evidence whatsoever, Irmak (2014) makes the assertion that hallucinations associated to schizophrenia are really the result of demonic agency. Demons, according to Irmak, creates real sensory images which the individual misinterprets as an hallucinations. This paper is so blatantly absurd and anti-scientific that it is hard to take seriously. Does this person really believe the stuff he is writing? Why did the journal publish such an…

View original 1,358 more words

A Case Of Convergent Evolution, Oh My!

I have to wonder what the creationists will say about this? The usual hand waving and wailing about how they are still crickets I suppose. This is another nail in the coffin for creationism.

I was perusing one of my favorite sites this morning National Geographic’s Phenomena, home of a handful of great science blogs. Ed Yong’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” has the post titled “The Silence of the Crickets” (x2 which was odd, but read on)

There is a species of cricket on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that is being predated by a parasitic fly and I quote: “whose larvae burrow inside them and eat them alive.” These flies zeroed in on the crickets by listening to the characteristic cricket chirp, then did the nasty business of implanting eggs when they found the source of the chirping.

An observant professor Marlene Zuk, PHD, University of Michigan, who had been studying these crickets had noticed on subsequent trips that the crickets chirp was being heard less and less every trip. An investigation shows why. The crickets were caught, in real time, evolving wings that no longer allowed for chirping. The crickets that had flatter wings which were bad at chirping were surviving, because they were invisible to the parasites. The survivors offspring of course had wings unsuitable for chirping to the point now where there are hardly any chirpers left. Which is a pretty awesome story, but…

What is even awesome-er, is the neighboring island of Oahu has the same crickets, with the same problem, that also independently evolved flatter wings unsuitable for chirping, over the same time period as the crickets on Kauai! This evidence was brought about by genetic testing that showed:  “the flatwings are caused by a mutation on a single gene, somewhere on the X chromosome. But both mutations arose independently! So the same mutation, flatter wings, happened on both islands, roughly at the same time, in two different populations, in differing area of the genome.”

Absolutely fucking incredible.

Get the full story here: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/29/the-silence-of-the-crickets-the-silence-of-the-crickets/

EDIT: Geez, I’m slow, my excuse is I was just on my first cup of joe when I posted this story…I get it now why the original post’s title was duplicated, 2 cases of mutations, on 2 neighboring islands…doh.

Also, I hate it when my attempts at posting links fail to work. I suppose a copy and paste will get you there. In the meantime anyone have link posting tips?

Clutter, And The Ability To Think Clearly

I have known for a long time that in my little part of the world, I need a certain level of order in my surroundings to be able to think clearly. If my environment is cluttered, my mind seems to follow suit. As a result I spend a lot of time cleaning up after the clutter monster. Having 2 kids here full time, plus a college student at home between semesters, plus all of their friends that happen to spend time here, as well as the mom and pop who have much to do to keep it all afloat…the clutter can sneak up on you.

I have a 24’x40′ shop that is my tinker haven. Between projects it gets cluttered badly. Sometimes the projects pile up on you, and the clutter grows exponentially. I can literally walk out there with a clear intent of what needs done, then step into the clutter zone and immediately lose focus. I have to stop right there and start throwing out the trash, cleaning and putting away the tools, and organizing things to an acceptable level before I can accomplish anything.

There is a 1964 SWB Chevy stepside pickup truck in there right now that looks like it has exploded.  The riding mower needs a place to sleep. All of the bicycles have to be somewhere. Got to have an air compressor if you want to do anything at all. There is an old gasifier project lost out there someplace. The old engine from that truck resides in the floor, the block is bad, I need to rescue the head, the cam and crankshaft before it goes out to scrap. My astronomy table, a couple of parallelograms I built for binoculars, and a few tripods are in there. The welder, the drill press, the vise, the chop saw, the hand tools… Now add to this a bunch of stuff deemed as potential materials for future projects unknown, a few gas cans, batteries, old tires that still have life in them, and I can walk in there and lose my damn mind.

Then this morning I was perusing one of my favorite web sites, Science Daily, and saw this: http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2014/may/may27_decoratedclassrooms.html

It is titled “Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention And Learning In Young Children” Someone actually did a study to see how the room is decorated, affected learning. It turns out that a de-cluttered room allows for an increase in learning ability. Which just happens to jive with my observations. Clutter in the environment clutters the mind. This is my story and I’m sticking to it.

…as an afterthought I am not one of those wackos that just has to keep everything in a state of perfection. I don’t mind a place looking lived in, and do not need my surroundings to look like a museum. There is though a line someplace, where I just can’t take it anymore and have to organize, and clean up my surroundings, more for my mental health than a concern for what company might think.