Random Thoughts

How can you tell the American recession is still worrisome, despite government worker unemployment only being 4.3%?  Beer sales have fallen again.  You'd think beer sales would go up in a bad economy, like it does historically, right?  Cheap entertainment and all that.  No, that only happens for a short while, and by now things have been so persistently bad people are buying a lot more hard liquor instead.  Beer just isn't strong enough to make an emotional difference these days.
"A good speech should be like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."

W. Churchill

I've been reflecting on autism and what makes a disability and what makes a personality, as I wait for the APA to get its shit together and release the new DSM. Will the change in criteria mean my children are suddenly no longer autistic? (No, it won't). Psychological disorders diagnosed by behaviors are subjective at best--from both the client's side and the psychologist's side. Biases and knowledge bases make sure that there is a lack of consistency across the board in who gets a diagnosis and what diagnosis it is. The codes for the DSM are used to get insurance reimbursement--a label is needed--a number code is required--the medical model requires labeling and coding everything if people are going to get services and have insurance reimburse or cover the cost.

If you were to ask me yesterday what did the most harm to romantic relationships, I would have said 'romantic comedies' followed by 'advice from women'.
Has global warming made it too darn hot to think about autumn events like Oktoberfest?  Can't choose between a milkshake and a beer? You are in luck, the Red Robin restaurant chain is simply mixing the two.
 
A cold beer milkshake can appeal to beer enthusiasts and dessert-lovers, they believe, so now through November 11th, they are selling a Samuel Adams® Octoberfest Milkshake. You can probably guess its ingredients; soft serve ice cream, Samuel Adams® Octoberfest draft, vanilla and caramel.
It's Great To Be Back!

I wish to apologize to all of my readers for being AWOL for so long without a word of explanation.  I have had a severe pain in my right arm from an unknown cause, and this has been made unbearable by any attempt to type.  This has left me unable to blog or respond to emails: indeed, for a very long time I was even unable to use the mouse and keyboard to check my emails.  My doctor cannot find a cause and suggests it is a trapped nerve.  It seems to be posture related: I can cycle - and have cycled - up to 44 miles in one day with only trivial aches.  The good news is that for the last few days my arm has only troubled me once.  Let us hope that the problem is now in the past.
Progressives love to get celebrity endorsements for their beliefs, and for good reason; while the right is stuck with Clint Eastwood wandering around unintelligibly - and he disagrees with about half their platform - the other side's famous true believers are all thin and pretty and stay on message. No independent thinking like Dirty Harry and if you have a crackpot, anti-science belief, some left-wing celebrity does too.
I am a lot more skeptical than most people who call themselves Skeptics; I am skeptical about more than Bigfoot and religion, I am even skeptical that (a) all Democratic politicians are pro-science while Republicans are not and (b) either of their voters are genetically super smart just by filling out a voter registration form. Skeptics can't violate those pet positions or a few others - James Randi learned that when he dared to ask if numerical models about global warming were accurate. There's skepticism, and then there is people not buying tickets to your conference if you ask the wrong questions, and you had better know the difference.
There are few things as irritating as scientists taking complex topics and reducing them to sound bites that are invariably wrong.  They pick up the wrong data, manipulate it with a bit of correlation and suddenly they're off and running on a new study which promises to be as ridiculous as the last.

Currently there is one entitled "The role of Genes in Political Behavior", that would have people rolling in the aisles if it weren't so pathetic.
On-Cor Frozen Foods of Geneva, Illinois has the funniest product recall you will read today.

Now, product recalls are not generally humorous. As Ian Froeb at Riverfront Times rightly notes, they are usually about serious stuff like listeria, E. coli, salmonella - and that is just in the organic food section.