Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dewey wants...

According to the World Wide Wackfest and a Google search, I've got a long list of wants:

Dewey wants Petey to go away.

Dewey wants Hal to quit drinking coffee.

Dewey wants philosophy to rise above old tired disputes to address new, more vital questions and problems.

Dewey wants an iPhone.

Dewey wants his clients to be happy and confident about their real estate decisions.

Dewey wants to turn his unsuspecting students into a rock band and crew, which will serve as a vehicle to stardom.

Dewey wants to pursue his dream of becoming a singer.

Dewey wants to experiment.

Dewey wants us to evaluate our experiences in terms of their consequences.

Dewey wants to be a baby.

Dewey wants to play.

Dewey wants a sister.

Dewey wants to take schools out of the education business, as traditionally understood, and put them in the conditioning (or parenting) business.

Dewey wants to deny that we can grasp reality through faith or logic.

Dewey wants the design to inspire residents to live without toxic materials, consume less overall, and use resources wisely.

Dewey wants to show families that there is fun for them, too.

Dewey wants company in the slammer.

Dewey wants to be in those old black and white “Thin Man” movies.

Dewey wants reconciliation.

Dewey wants a fast commuter bike.

Dewey wants to help you love the one that counts — yourself.

Dewey wants a productive work environment for city workers who enthusiastically and diligently serve the public.

Dewey wants to bring the philosophical estimate of human knowledge back into its concrete home context: practical problem solving.

Dewey wants to keep the Emersonian theodicy alive under new circumstances and challenges.

And after those last few mouthfuls of gobbledegook...true truth be told...Dewey wants to hurl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gloating When the Opportunity Presents Itself

Among the eclectic items on my list of former occupations is disc jockey. To be clear, my activity that falls under that label had nothing to do with the image that just popped into the heads of any readers under the age of 30. I did NOT stand over a pair of turntables in a dance club...nor did I move any recorded disc, 33-and-a-third or 45, for the sole purpose of making scritchee-scritchee-scratch noises.

The chapter of my life when I was a disc jockey involved playing music on the radio, checking dials and meters on said radio station's transmitter, and ripping-and-reading news from teletype machines so that the listening public would be totally informed and prepared for life as we know it.

Contrary to how important that news dissemination aspect of my job just sounded, there were times when I would do exactly what I just described: rip news items off the Associated Press teletype, rush into the studio, and start reading a five-minute newscast that consisted of three minutes of news, one-and-a-half minutes of commercials, and 30 seconds worth of weather forecasting.

Once, that level of intense preparation (cough-cough) led to one of the few moments of embarrassment I've ever experienced.

One of the short reports I was reading involved a legal action being taken against the Bonnie Baking Company. When the phrase, "apparently, Bonnie's loaves are too long" passed my lips, I started laughing uncontrollably and was unable to continue. I tried breathing deeply, biting my lip, and thinking about dead puppies, but every time I turned my microphone back on, I only got two or three words out before my belly went tight, my voice went high, and I had to turn it back off so I could titter with utter abandon.

Now...I told you all that so I could say this...

During National Public Radio's recent coverage of the in-process tsunami (one of the results of Japan's mega-earthquake), the news anchor was interviewing an expert on such matters and stumbled her way into a reason why American broadcast journalists really ought to be educated beyond "which button do I push?" or "which camera do I look at?"

NPR's employee (courtesy of several foundations, a government grant, and viewers/listeners like you): "What sort of effect can we expect in Hawaii? We're monitoring several Web cams and it looks like right now they've got big waves, but not hugely big."

Hugely big?


And is that wave of water expected to be moistly wet?

* * * * * * *

Congress recently voted to stop giving money to public broadcasting. I'm not saying there's any connection here, but...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This is so lightweight I can't even be bothered to think of a title for it

I went to a high school speech meet last Saturday:

The Persuasive Relay will begin in five minutes. That will be followed by the 100 yard Sarcasm Duo.

I suppose that sometime in the future I need to give this the full Almost the Truth treatment, but in deference to me needing to start work in three minutes (and my general laziness) I just want to share the most humorous phrase I heard all day:

European urologist

And if you don't understand why that's funny, I'm pretty sure you're wasting your time hanging around this blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Little More Knowledge

The curiosity of one of my co-workers, QueenCanDo, was aroused by yesterday's post, and she said I should do more research on brominated vegetable oil. I replied, of course, that because she was the one who was so all-fire curious, she should do more research.

She did. And this is what she found. (And here is where she found it: With thanks to Matthew Alice of the San Diego Reader, I steal the following:

Mr. Matthew:

Here is a query that has been torturing the curiosity lobe of my poor little brain for months. What, exactly, is brominated vegetable oil, and why do soda companies put it in their drinks? It seems citrus is a favored flavor to which to add the...uh...zesty tang? of brominated vegetable oil. I have asked top chemists from the most prestigious institutes in the San Diego area and have stumped them all. The stumper is, why combine bromine, a toxic element at best, with vegetable oil, which seems like a gross substance to be adding to fizzy thirst-quenching drinks?

—Rene Hayden, Normal Heights and UCSD

Until we looked into the matter, Rene, Squirt was the official soft drink of the 1999 Robitussin-Matthew Alice Invitational. Well, we forgot to send the invitations anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Brominated vegetable oil is a semi-disreputable substance that in the U.S. and Canada can legally be added (in amounts no greater than 15 parts per million by weight) to citrus-flavored drinkable substances. More than 100 countries ban it; the World Health Organization can't even bring itself to say the letters BVO — but you know how touchy those foreigners can be. Spend all day eating yak yogurt or Vegemite and you think you know cuisine.

Anyway, without brominated vegetable oil, your favorite lemony-limy soda would look like the Gulf of Alaska in the wake of the Exxon-Valdez. To get fat-soluble citrus flavorings to waft evenly throughout a can of sugar water thickened with seaweed or tree gum, you have to make the specific gravity of the flavor droplets match the specific gravity of the rest of the goop. Bromine has two, maybe three distinct advantages. First, bromine atoms weigh a ton. Pound a few into the vegetable oil molecules, lighten with a soup├žon of citrus oil, and you've got a darn near perfect match for the sugar water. Second, bromine ionizes at the drop of a hat. And third, brominated vegetable oil gives lemony-limy-citrusy drinks the hazy appearance we gullible shoppers associate with fresh, tangy, real-fruit taste. BTW, the drink need not be fizzy. Check out your next tub-o-Gatorade for the telltale BVO.

Bromine is extracted from sea water. You don't want to know how. In its liquid or vaporous form, it's lethal. But once you've got the stuff, you're set to make light-sensitive surfaces for photographic paper, lead-eating additives for gasoline, fire-extinguishing material, agricultural fumigants, and lots of other handy stuff. Until 1975, you could make sedatives too. But science got suspicious when droves of overmedicated people were wheeled into psychiatric facilities, diagnosed as loony but actually suffering from bromism — so much serum bromide that they couldn't stand up or remember their names.

The down side of our oil-soluble friend is that it can build up in fat cells. Fat cells in laboratory pigs, anyway. How big a leap it is from pig science to people science is still in doubt. And not much happened to the brominated pigs anyway. Conservative countries banned BVO, we just limited its use. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, never too shy to yell "Fire!" in a crowded supermarket, lists BVO as an additive that "may pose a risk and needs to be better tested." They put BVO in the same slot with aspartame and quinine; though it must be safer than Olestra, saccharin, and sodium nitrate, things they say no rational person would consume.

One extrapolation from the pig studies was the estimate that a 165-pound adult would have to drink 353 12-ounce cans of soda per day for 42 days to have detectable bromine in his/her fat. Laughable, you say? Your intrepid investigator has read the medical report of a man whose diet included three or four liters of BVO'd soda every day. In a month, he was in the ER with confusion, headaches, tremors, memory loss, and fatigue. By the time he was correctly diagnosed two months later, he couldn't walk and was pretty much down for the count. Luckily, the diagnosis of bromism and six hours of hemodialysis brought him around.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Little Knowledge

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then it just may be possible that a lot of knowledge is absolutely catastrophic. I recently found out far too much about Sun Drop® Citrus Soda.

It started out, as most of my journeys of discovery do, innocently enough.

I was casually strolling toward the self-checkout lane at my local ginormous-box grocery superstore when I heard a nasally voice, emanating from somewhere around knee level, ask, “Would you like a free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, sir?”

I looked down toward the source of the sound and saw a ginormous-box grocery superstore employee reaching his hand up to offer me a coupon.

Well, a display of the soda in question was right there, and the coupon for a free bottle was right there, and the available spot in the self-checkout lane was right there…so sure, “I would like a free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, yes sir.”

We had pizza for dinner that night, which was an excellent opportunity to open my free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda and give it a test run. It tasted like Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. was trying to come up with its own version of Mountain Dew®, but missed the mark because they gave Sun Drop® Citrus Soda some actual…you know…flavor.

The similarity to Mountain Dew® made me curious as to whether Sun Drop® Citrus Soda was caffeinated. It was exactly at this point that I should have beaten myself about the head and shoulders with a blunt object and gone to bed with my curiosity sternly rebuked, but nooooo, I picked up the bottle and read the list of ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup [Is that corn syrup that is high in fructose content, or fructose corn syrup that has been violating the controlled substance act?], and contains less than 2% of citric acid, orange juice concentrate, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine, natural flavors, acacia gum, yellow 5, ester gum [Do you remember her? Nice gal.], brominated vegetable oil.

None of these ingredients surprised me except for that last one. What the farnsworth is “brominated vegetable oil”? And to be more precise (because I have a fairly firm grasp on what vegetable oil is), what the farnsworth does it mean to brominate something?

Rather than do the sensible thing and distract myself with an episode of Alias Smith and Jones on Hulu, I attacked the slippery slope of “a little knowledge” and consulted

In its normal helpful style, told me this about what it means to brominate:

[broh-muh-neyt]–verb (used with
object), -ated, -ating. Chemistry: to treat or combine with bromine.
You would think this would satisfy me to no end…but you would be wrong. And what follows is the bit of knowledge that I really wish I would have avoided:
[broh-meen]–noun Chemistry:
an element that is a dark-reddish, fuming,
toxic liquid and a member of the
halogen family: obtained from natural
brines and ocean water, and used chiefly
in the manufacture of gasoline
antiknock compounds, pharmaceuticals, and dyes.

They’re treating or mixing vegetable oil with this stuff and putting it in my Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, which I am pouring over a pile of ice and allowing to slide down my throat.

I’ve finally gotten a grip on the True Truth the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 1:21: “…to die is gain.”