Posts filed under “Science & Nature”

ANNOUNCEMENT.

The Boli Institute for Advanced Studies is now offering a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine. Instead of teaching the doctrines of homeopathy, which by homeopathic principles should have a negative effect, the Boli Institute’s course of instruction proceeds by exposing the student to small doses of medical misinformation, which will naturally have the effect of filling the mind with homeopathic wisdom. Other similar courses occasionally slip and let in a stray fact, which may set the student back months if not years. Dr. Boli, however, is uniquely qualified to dispense misinformation, and the Boli Institute course is therefore earnestly recommended as the only course in Homeopathic Medicine guaranteed free of accuracy in all course materials.

PROMINENT HOMEOPATH CALLS FOR HIGHER-QUALITY ANECDOTES.

A prominent researcher has called on fellow homeopaths to provide higher-quality anecdotes in their published studies.

Dr. Theobald Fungle, director of the Institute for Bespoke Research at Duck Hollow University, identifies low-quality anecdotes as the chief barrier to the progress of homeopathy in the medical establishment.

“All the evidence for homeopathy is anecdotal,” Dr. Fungle told homeopaths and science journalists in a conference call hosted by the Institute. “Many of those anecdotes, however, are of the lowest quality. They lack the most basic markers of a quality anecdote: good characters, a compelling situation, and a snappy and memorable resolution. Some are even missing the most rudimentary form of punch line.”

If homeopathy is to be introduced at the highest levels of medical practice, Dr. Fungle insists, these deficiencies in the evidence will have to be addressed.

“Money for research into complementary and alternative medicine is now readily available,” he told participants in the call. “Every homeopathic research project ought to be able to find room in its budget for hiring a good gag writer to ‘punch up’ the anecdotes, if I may be forgiven for using a technical term, thus making them suitable for publication in the most prestigious journals.”

Dr. Fungle then asked conference participants whether anyone could recall the one about the six Mongolians and Henry Kissinger, because he was a little fuzzy on the details, but he remembered it was a wowser.

ARE YOU AWARE?

Samuel Hahnemann Memorial, Washington, photographed by “Daderot.”

Only four days remain until the beginning of World Homeopathy Awareness Week. How will you celebrate? What will you do?

Dr. Boli has already begun his preparations by subjecting himself to a string of infinitesimal annoyances. According to the principles of homeopathy, this should, if repeated often and at a high enough dilution, produce joy bordering on euphoria.

Do not neglect to watch this space beginning April 10, when the celebration begins in earnest. It is not too much to say that the joy will be of a very high potency, in the homeopathic sense of the term.

ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: What is the secret of your longevity? I’m asking for a friend. —Sincerely, Elizabeth R., Buckingham Palace, Westminster.

Dear Madam:  Dr. Boli refuses to die until he is given a positive guarantee that no one will attempt to memorialize him with a decal on the back window of an SUV. At present no one has offered a guarantee he considers sufficiently positive.

ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: The Food Festival supermarket in my neighborhood has started carrying Irish butter in the dairy department. But it’s much more expensive than butter from Pennsylvania dairies. So what is the difference between Irish butter and the local butters? —Sincerely, A Famous Chef Who Prefers to Remain Anonymous.

Dear Sir or Madam: Irish butter comes from Ireland. Is it Dr. Boli’s imagination, or are these questions getting easier?

HANDY GUIDE TO FOOD SAFETY.

Vectors of disease and serious choking hazards.

Many consumers are unaware of the best practices in food safety, with the result that consumers all over the country are dropping like mayflies. Be aware of these important food safety facts to prevent sudden agonizing demise in your family.

Food wants to kill you. This is the first principle of food safety. To prevent food from having its way, make sure you eat only foods produced under carefully controlled conditions.

Raw meat is the most dangerous of all foods and should be handled only by fully qualified professionals, as it can carry not only diseases but also serious choking hazards in the form of “bones.” It is a useful principle to remember that raw meat is always more dangerous than the animal it came from. Yet most consumers seem to be unaware that cooked meat comes directly from raw meat. The only safe way to eat meat is to obtain meat that has been carefully prepared and neutralized under laboratory-like conditions, as is done, for example, in the packaged processed snack-food industry. Packaged processed snack meats come in many convenient forms, most of them vaguely cylindrical, all of them carefully neutralized with improving chemistry “for thine especial safety,” in the words of the immortal Bard.

Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are technically meat at one remove. Standards for cheese are appallingly low, and it is a known fact in the industry that some cheese is sold in such an advanced state of decay that it is literally mottled with fungus. To be safe, insist on cheese that has been carefully stripped of its harmful properties, such as, for example, that found in many “cheez”-flavored packaged processed snack foods.

Fish is simply meat that lives under water. The safest way to consume fish is in the form of small crackers baked in sanitary factories and coated with safe and delicious cheez-flavored topping.

Fruit is a kind of meat produced by plants to seduce the unwary into spreading their filthy seeds. Fresh fruit is a known vector of many diseases and may contain inedible components, such as stems, cores, etc., which are technically the bones of the fruit and present similar choking hazards. Fruit is best consumed in the form of flavored processed snack foods, as the “froot” flavor can be safely produced in a laboratory without any contact with the dangerous meat of wild fruit.

Vegetables are nothing more than the meat of plants, with all the dangers of disease and choking that come with raw meat. The most reputable food scientists advise avoiding vegetables altogether.

This handy guide to food safety is brought to you by the North American Association of Delicious Packaged Processed Snack-Food Manufacturers (NAADPPSFM), promoting Food Safety Through Plastic Packaging.

GET READY FOR FALL WEATHER HAZARDS.

Fall is a season during which weather may occur at any time. Protect your family by getting ready for these fall weather hazards:

Drizzle can occur whenever the weather is too indolent to produce rain at full scale, and meteorological indolence is a common condition during the fall season. Drizzle can cause dampness, which can be exacerbated by chilly autumn temperatures until you catch your death of cold. If drizzle is forecast for your area, honestly, it’s not even worth getting out of bed.

Falling leaves occur with increasing frequency as the season matures. One falling leaf can completely obscure your vision if it falls on your face, causing you to walk off a cliff and fall onto a shed full of high explosives, such as are commonly built at the bottoms of cliffs. Furthermore, colored leaves attract children, and we all know that children bring a myriad of hazards with them. Be safe. When you see leaves changing color, your best course is to stay inside until mid-December.

Scattered clouds may obscure and reveal the sun alternately, producing tremendous fluctuations in light levels that negatively impact visibility, causing you to lose your way and walk into a bad neighborhood where you will be robbed and beaten to death. When you see fluffy white clouds in the sky, retreat to a sturdy room in the basement, or an interior room on the lower level if you have no basement.

Frost may coat pumpkins and other hazardous vegetation with a deceptively attractive sparkle, obscuring their true nefarious intentions. Don’t be fooled. When you see frost on the windowpane, pull the blanket over your eyes.

Pleasant temperatures and sunny days can encourage you to venture out of doors, where you may be hit by a streetcar. Do not be seduced by the transient delights of autumn. Lock your doors and stay inside.

ENERGY-SAVING TIPS.

Learn to read Braille. The ability to read in the dark will considerably diminish your lighting bill.

Instead of cooking your vegetables in a conventional oven, use cardboard, newspaper, and foil or reflective tape to create a parabolic reflector. Then place the vegetables in it and leave them outside for the groundhog to eat. Result: vegetables disposed of without use of conventional fuels.

Instead of using powered machinery to dig holes, split logs, hoist pianos, &c., have your children do it. What did you have children for, anyway?

Tie a chain to the rear bumper of your neighbor’s car and the front bumper of your own. Your neighbor ought to be doing his bit to reduce fossil-fuel consumption, after all, and here is a concrete way of encouraging him. He may not always go where you had been planning to go, but you can learn to like the places your neighbor frequents.

If you carry moonbeams home in a jar, they may be next to useless for domestic illumination, but the philosophers Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen have demonstrated conclusively that you will be better off than you are.

Always charge your electric car from random strangers’ porch outlets.

Turn down the thermostat and wear a hat. It is a well-known fact, verifiable by asking your mother, that human beings lose 90% of their heat through their heads. If, therefore, you wear a hat and nothing else, you will still be nine times warmer than if you were fully dressed without a hat.

IN SCIENCE NEWS.

Dr. Bill Gargling of the Young Earth Institute has published a new variant of young-earth creationism in the Institute’s journal, Creation Studies. According to Dr. Gargling, the universe was created by God last Tuesday with the appearance of age, including our own complete memories of previous existence. The Institute is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove Dr. Gargling’s theory wrong. Dr. Gargling, having received a number of applications for the reward already, informs prospective applicants that calling him a moron will not be accepted as conclusive proof.

TRANSLATE THIS.

Would you like to translate this page?” Chrome asks.

Araceae-untranslated

The page in question is simply a list of species in the family Araceae (the arum family, which includes the locally abundant Jack-in-the-Pulpit, as well as familiar ornamentals like Callas, Philodendrons, and Anthuriums) that grow in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pushing the translate button was too great a temptation. This was the result:

Araceae-translated

Although most of these terms turn out to be the same in Latin and in English, there are some actual translations. For example, it turns out that “foetidus” is “smelly.” Good job, Google! It also turns out that the arum family in Latin is the tomato family (Solanaceae) in English. “Atrorubens,” which Dr. Boli had thought meant something like “dark red,” turns out to mean “McNeal” instead. And “Symplocarpus” means “Robinsonella,” which “is a genus of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae,” according to the omniscient Wikipedia; that is to say, a genus of plants that have nothing to do with the arum family.

The algorithms that produced these translations are probably opaque to human understanding, but it is comforting to know that the era of reliable machine translation has arrived at last.