Friday, February 28, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #92: No, Your Microwave Isn’t Trying to Kill You

Would you believe that all this time I’ve just been going about my business, using my microwave, and not getting sick or dying from it? It turns out that something like half the Internet believes that microwaves are absolute deathtraps. I bet you have no idea where I’m going with this.

Seriously, though, you wouldn’t believe the crap some people have come up with.

Let’s start with the food itself. I’m sure at some point in my many travels I’ve heard that microwaved food is bad for me. IT’S ACTUAL POISON, YOU GUYS. Apparently, when you eat microwaved food regularly over a long period of time, it – say it with me now, kids – “shorts out” your brain. From what I hear, it either depolarizes or de-magnetizes your brain tissue, because brains work like that I guess? Also, which one is it?

Psych! It’s neither, you dumbass. There is absolutely no evidence of this. I mean, secret “research” that you can’t look up because They won’t it see the light of day doesn’t really count as evidence, sorry to burst your bubble.

I'll wait while you get your headgear.
Image credit: Wes Washington

Speaking of secret studies that you can’t look up, the belief that microwave ovens fill your dinner up with carcinogens and toxins goes back to the so-called “research” of one Hans Hertel, a Swiss “researcher” who claims to have performed his own study on the effects of eating nothing but microwaved food. The so-called study consisted of Hertel, his friend Bernard Blanc, and six other people who locked themselves in a hotel room in the name of non-scientific, non-controlled experimentation. The thing about research, is that in general, you need to have some proof that you’ve done it. Also, it’s usually considered preferable if other researchers can duplicate your methods and get the same results. Neither of these things applies to Hertel’s “research.”

The “research” in question didn’t get funding, so the “researchers” paid for it out of their own pockets. Following the experiment, a Swiss industry association took them to court, where they received gag order. Though the gag order was later lifted by a European court, for freedom of speech reasons, the “researchers” nevertheless found themselves unemployed. It’s worth noting that Blanc later recanted his role in the “research” and distanced himself from the findings.

No, microwaves don’t give you cancer. I guess it does kind of makes sense to assume that something that cooks with “radiation” would be, you know, radioactive. It’s not.

Microwaves cook using non-ionizing radiation, which is not powerful enough to render other things radioactive. Intense doses of microwave radiation agitate polarized molecules in food (water, I’m talking about water), causing them to rotate, which creates the friction that heats the food. You’re not going to suffer radiation poisoning or get cancer from your microwave, even if it is leaking. If your microwave is leaking, it might burn you, but it’s not going to give you cancer.

You know what does give you cancer? Eating lots of meat – specifically grilled or fried meat. Exposing meats to the high temperatures required for cooking stimulates the formation of hydrocyclic amines, or HCAs, which have been proven by actual, no-need-for-quotes research to cause multiple kinds of cancer in lab animals.

Cooking your food in the microwave eliminates most precursors for HCA formation, and lowers these compounds’ mutagenic activity by as much as 95 percent. That’s right – cooking your food in the microwave will give you less cancer.

Don't worry, the fossil fuels industry has a plan in place to make up for that.

But doesn’t microwaving your food destroy its nutritional value? Wrong again! While it’s true that heating your food degrades its nutritional value to some extent, there’s not much difference nutritionally between food prepared in a microwave and food prepared by other methods.

In case you’re getting disappointed that your microwave isn’t dangerous enough, it is possible to “superheat” tap water and other liquids in the microwave, causing it to erupt and burn the shit out of you when you try to take it out. So, you know, watch out for that.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #91: The Winter Olympics That Might Have Been

The Winter Olympics are upon us, a fact about which I would give zero fucks even if they weren’t being held in the frozen wasteland of anti-gay. Well, okay, maybe like half a fuck, if I had the time.

If some of these sports were in the Olympics, I might watch (but probably not). These are the sports that are just too awesome for the Winter Olympics.

Exhibit A

What could be more fun than being hauled along on skis by a horse, team of dogs, snowmobile or motorcycle? How about just skiing? No? If you’ve always loved waterskiing but wished it included harder falls, than skijoring is for you.


Image credit: Kaila Angello

Skijoring, which comes from the Norwegian for “ski driving,” probably evolved from earlier means of travel in cold Scandinavian climates. You can use any kind of dog for skijoring, as long as it likes pulling you and it’s willing to listen to your commands, since you’ll have no other way to control it. It’s said to be easy to train dogs to pull you around on skis (because dogs are suckers like that); the real difficulty lies in training the dogs not to stop and sniff the butts of the other skijoring dogs, the results of which could be what Wikipedia describes as “problematic” if you’re traveling at speed.

The winter pentathlon was an event at just one Winter Games, in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1948. I’m 1948 was a year when the athletes of the world were keen to combine cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sharpshooting, horseback riding and fencing. Sweden won. All the medals.

Ski ballet, a former Olympic sport now sadly defunct, combined elements of ballet – jumping, flipping, rolling, spinning, and like waving your arms and legs and stuff – with elements of downhill skiing, namely, skiing downhill. Notable athletes include Suzy Chaffee, an Olympic ski racer who pioneered the sport in the 1970s; Lane Spina, who won the silver medal for ski ballet in the 1988 Calgary Olympics and a bronze in the 1992 Albertville Olympics.

The first winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix (shout!) included an event known as “military patrol,” a precursor to the biathlon, which included rifle shooting (there’s always rifle shooting), cross-country skiing and ski mountaineering. It involved four-person teams who skied and climed a total of 15.5 miles (25 km) for men and 9.3 miles (15 km) for women, with total ascents of 1,650 to 4,000 ft (500 to 1,200 meters) for the men and 980 to 2,300 ft (300 to 700 meters) for the women. Though it appeared two more times as a demonstration sport, the military patrol was never included as a competitive event again, because it only seems like a good idea if you live in Chamonix.

Ice stock sport, aka Bavarian Curling, is a sport in which competitors slide “ice stocks” across an icy surface in order to hit a target. It’s like curl-bowling – curowling.

Curling horseshoes -- corseshoes.

Image credit: Skandehora

I googled a video in which one German dude just stands around nonchalantly while another German dude chucks these things across the ice in his general direction. I don’t know, guys, it doesn’t seem safe.


From 1900 to 1920, tug of war was an event at the Summer Olympics. Nations were allowed to enter multiple teams, and could therefore win multiple medals for the event.

Scandal rocked the 1904 Summer Olympics when it was discovered that the gold-winning American squad, ostensibly made up of members of the Milwaukee Athletic Club, was actually from Chicago. Scandal rocked the 1908 Summer Olympics when the Americans complained about the British wearing cleated police boots for extra traction. The Americans ended up storming off, leaving the British to win all of the medals.

I didn't know you could rage-quit the Olympics.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The UnFriending Lately Has Been Bounteous Indeed

Okay, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s made this observation, but this week has been THE BEST in terms of figuring out who you really need to unfriend from Facebook immediately and dis-invite from the family reunion. Between the multilingual Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad, the open letter from Dylan Farrow, and the tragic untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, may he rest in peace, it’s been the perfect storm of social media dumbfuckery.

All we need to make it complete is a disease outbreak among some unvaccinated children, KNOCK ON WOOD.

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl because I had whole lot of not watching the Super Bowl to get done that day and what do you know, it took me the whole day to get around to it all. So I had to watch the Coca-Cola ad on YouTube like some kind of animal, which I’ll admit I only did when I decided to write this blog post, because as soon as I saw people all-capsing in my News Feed about how they’re NEVER BUYING COKE AGAIN and YOUR IN AMERICAN SPEAK INGLSIH (only with worse spelling) I didn’t need to watch it – I knew exactly what it was about. But I watched it anyway in the spirit of 100% pure journalism.

I’m sure these peoples' Coke-products boycotts will last exactly as long as it takes them to go out to some awful American chain restaurant that doesn’t serve RC Cola (because Pepsi products are for the gays, and I’ll have you know that I googled “Pepsi products are for the gays” to find that link, too), assuming they even know what RC Cola is. Their racist asses can go right on ahead and boycott that shit until they're blue in the face. Coca Cola sells a lot of soda to a lot of people in other countries, and I should know -- I’ve been to other countries and I’ve seen it.

This Indian kid probably speaks better English than you do, but if she didn't, THAT WOULD BE OKAY, TOO.

Image credit: ruffin_ready

Also this week (actually this happened first, sorry, I must be going in alphabetical order), Dylan Farrow broke her silence of 20 years to speak out about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her adopted father, Woody Allen. And everyone freaked out – not because OMFG THAT POOR WOMAN, but because OH NOEZ WHAT ABOUT THE ART.

If you’re going to suggest that sometimes children lie about having been sexually abused, like if that's going to be your go-to response here, please stop and ask yourself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?” The shitstorm that this has caused should be proof enough that there is nothing to gain, except a whopping heap of stigma, from making something like this up. Yes, I know Allen denies it. OF COURSE HE DENIES IT. For fuck’s sake. When you accuse someone of lying about sexual abuse, the only person who looks bad is you, because only an asshole does a thing like that. I would think this is pretty basic stuff, but “Don’t shoot people” is also basic stuff, and GUESS WHAT.

It's time for a photo so here's some kitties.

And that brings us to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you don’t have any experience with or knowledge of addiction, I guess I can see why you’d fall all over yourself to be the first of your friends to sign on to Facebook and let the rest of your friends know that NO LOSS GUYS, JUST ANOTHER DUMB JUNKIE and STUPID ADDICT, HAD IT COMIN, ALL THOSE IDIOTS CARE ABOUT IS DOPE.

Let me just go ahead and point out that addiction does not indicate a character flaw or a lack of intelligence. It’s a chronic illness and it’s about as difficult to control as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, obesity or any other disease that you wouldn’t blame someone for having, except for you probably would blame someone for having obesity because you’re an asshat like that.

Here's another fucking kitten, you're welcome.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #90: Micronations

Micronations, if you’re not familiar with the term, are small, self-proclaimed nations that aren’t recognized by other nations, and therefore aren’t really countries, because in order to be a real nation, your nation has to be recognized by other nations that are recognized by other nations. It’s not clear who does the initial recognizing, but from the sound of things it’s NATO Cheerleading Team.

You’ve probably heard of the Principality of Sealand, a nation located on an abandoned World War II-era anti-aircraft sea fort seven miles off the coast of England. Sealand’s royal family are the Bates, who claim that the nation, though not officially recognized by any other nation, has been de facto recognized by both the British court system (which found, in 1968, that it did not have jurisdiction over the sea fort under the laws of the period) and Germany, which nation was forced to send a diplomat to Sealand in 1978.

Why? Alexander Achenbach, dual citizen of Sealand and Germany, staged a coup while the royal couple, Prince Paddy Roy Bates and his wife, was traveling “abroad” in England. Achenbach, who styles himself the Prime Minister of Sealand, assembled troops somehow and saw fit to take the heir to the Sealand throne hostage. Prince Bates squashed the rebellion, charged Achenbach with treason, and refused to release him unless he paid a fine of DM 75,000, the equivalent of $35,000 at the time. The UK refused to intervene, since it wasn’t its jurisdiction, and the next thing you know, Germany’s sending a diplomat.

Just so we’re clear, Germany sent a diplomat to this:

People fought over this. With guns, even.

Because it’s deffo worth fighting over a country that’s eventually going to rust and fall into the sea. The Principality of Sealand was briefly for sale, but shockingly, there were no takers. Well, except for Pirate Bay, but either they couldn’t pony up the ONE BILLION DOLLAR asking price, or the royal family were morally opposed, but I’d put my money on the first thing because Prince Roy Bates got his start in pirate radio broadcasting.

Incidentally, Achenbach founded a Sealandic government in exile that presumably sits around in Germany bitching about not getting to rule a broken-down, rusted-out shit-box of a sea fort. Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.

Within the borders of the United States, the Republic of Molossia is located at 226 Mary Lane, Dayton, NV. President Kevin Baugh reportedly rules the nation with an iron fist, as it is a military dictatorship.

Military dictators aren't supposed to smile, President Baugh.

Image credit: Republic of Molossia

In addition to the one acre or so of land President Baugh and his family occupy in Nevada, the Republic of Molossia lays claim to the Desert Homestead Province, a parcel of land in Southern California, and Vesperia, a significant portion of the plant Venus. Molossia remains embroiled in a bitter war with East Germany, and has issued War Bonds at the rate of three dollars apiece.

The world’s oldest micronation is the Principality of Seborga in Italy, which traces its sovereignty all the way back to the year 954, which is pretty respectable even by the standards of nations who are recognized by nations who are recognized by nations. According to local resident Giorgio Carbone, in that year the principality passed into the hands of the Benedictine Monks of Santo Onorato of Lerins, the abbot of which monastery was made a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1079. The principality was sold to the House of Savoy in 1729, but when the 1815 Congress of Vienna reassigned European territories after the Napoleonic Wars, they failed to reassign poor little Seborga. Nor was Seborga mentioned at all in Italy’s 1861 Act of Unification. So, technically, Seborga is still an independent nation and also, technically, Italy is a younger nation than the United States, which is neither here nor there but is definitely something to mention the next time you’re talking to one of those snobby Europeans, also known as “one of those Europeans.”

Here's the Government Palace of Seborga, isn't it grand.

Image credit: Rolf Palmberg

The Principality of Wy, located in Australia in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, declared itself in 2004 after an unresolved 14-year dispute with the local council and community over the construction of a driveway for the self-styled Prince Paul Ashton Delprat. Prince Paul, who is the great grandson of Australian artist Julian Ashton, is a patron of the arts and his nation sponsors exhibitions and an art prize. No word on whether or not he ever got the driveway.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #89 Maybe: Peanut Butter

I was at the doctor the other day and they told me I can’t sit down for at least another week and a half on account of my broken tailbone, so I’m writing this while lying down, which is incredibly awkward and probably going to give me carpal tunnel syndrome. The things I do for you people.

I was inspired to write about peanut butter by Julie You Jest, who pointed out recently that the German term for “peanut” translates directly as “dirt nut.” I pointed out that that makes sense because peanuts grow under the ground. Then I promised I’d write a Fun Friday Facts.

I haven't even started yet, and I'm already hungry.

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. He “invented” peanut butter.

That’s not to say that Mr. Carver didn’t discover hundreds of uses for peanuts; he did, including 105 food recipes and at least 100 products including dyes, cosmetics, gasoline, nitroglycerin, paints and plastics. His work with peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes was instrumental in an era when monoculture of cotton had caused widespread soil depletion through much of the American South. But that’s another blog post.

Peanut butter was invented by the Incas more than 3,000 years ago. They mixed cocoa powder into their peanut butter because fuck yeah, cocoa powder.

John Harvey Kellogg patented peanut butter in 1895 because of course he did. Kellogg served the concoction at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. Others who claim to have developed peanut butter around that time were the aforementioned George Washington Carver and snack foods purveyor George Bayle.

In the United States, January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day. That’s coming right up! Mark it on your calendars!

Crunchy peanut butter is better for you than smooth peanut butter, because it contains more fiber and fewer saturated fats.

Peanut butter is a base ingredient in Plumpy’nut, a therapeutic food product developed by French pediatric nutritionist Andre Briend and food-processing engineer Michel Lescanne to treat severe malnutrition in famine-stricken countries. Plumpy’nut contains 500 calories per serving, has a shelf life of two years, and requires no preparation or refrigeration. Parents can easily feed it to their young children to help them recover from severe malnutrition without the need for hospital care. Peanut butter is amazing.

It takes 540 peanuts to make a single jar of peanut butter. The average American allegedly eats 6 to 7 pounds of peanut butter each year, according to this dubious website. Seriously, though, who’s eating all that peanut butter? I don’t know anyone who eats that much peanut butter. That’s allegedly enough peanut butter to fill up the Grand Canyon and then some. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon so I don’t really have a clear concept of how much peanut butter that is, but imagine this full of peanut butter:

Americans spend $800 million on peanut butter each year (again: really? I don’t know anyone who eats that much peanut butter). Peanut butter production and sales contribute more than $4 billion to the GDP.

The average American child eats 1500 peanut butter sandwiches before college. That’s who’s eating all the peanut butter.

Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. On a related note, they smeared peanut butter inside Mr. Ed’s mouth to make it look like he was talking.

People from the East Coast prefer creamy peanut butter (despite it being higher in saturated fats, I guess) while people from the West Coast prefer crunchy peanut butter. That explains a lot.

According to the National Peanut Board, you can grow enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches. The average peanut farm is 100 acres. That’s 300,000 sandwiches per farm, or 20 American school children.

The world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich, weighing 1,342 pounds, was made in Grand Saline, Texas in November 2010. The folks of Grand Saline stole that title from the folks of Oklahoma City, whose 900-pound sandwich won the title of world’s largest in September 2002.

The largest peanut ever grown was grown by Earl Adkins of Enfield, North Carolina. It was four inches long, which is pretty big for a peanut, not so big for a penis.

In many parts of the South, peanuts are known as “goobers” or “goober peas.” The word comes from the Congolese name for peanut, “nguba.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Get Some Resolutions Up in This New Year

Some people think New Year’s Resolutions are stupid, on account of “no one ever keeps their New Year’s Resolutions,” but that’s not true – eight percent of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. So for every 25 people you know, two of them aren’t full of shit. Pay attention to which of your friends keep their New Year’s Resolutions, kids – those are the ones you can trust.

I think there’s some value in aspiring to better yourself, even if you’re one of the many people who fail their New Year’s Resolution within the first week. You learn more from failure than you do from success, right? Sure, sure you do.

In the past I’ve taken a bit of a different approach to my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always preferred to psych myself up for a couple of weeks before I get started. I’ve always felt, I’ve got all year, so what’s the rush?

Of course, it’s this lackadaisical attitude that’s keeping me from getting anywhere in life. As I mentioned yesterday in my Year in Review post, I haven’t really accomplished much over the past year – I’ve just sort of maintained. Not that there’s anything wrong with maintaining – it’s a far sight better than backsliding. 2013 has been better than some of the years I’ve had, to be sure.

But I’ve been thinking (I know, I know) about how much younger I’ve not been getting (lots!) and about where I want to be in 2015, which doesn’t come naturally to me because I’m an ISFP and as such, I don’t believe the future exists. But it does and while I can’t know exactly what Future Me will want, I think I have a pretty good idea.

I don’t want to overwhelm myself with too many resolutions, but I’m still feeling some of the residual optimism from successfully quitting smoking in 2011, so I feel like I can handle two this year. Also, I don’t recall making one at all last year, unless it was the cat rescue volunteering, that sounds like it could have been a New Year’s Resolution.

I thought I’d start eating better, and to that end, I bought the small frozen pizzas instead of the regular size ones, and almond milk instead of regular milk, because not drinking milk is going to make all the difference. No but seriously, I’m going to start eating more vegetables and potatoes don’t count. Also fruits, they’re really good for you and delicious, but not chocolate spread, because I have about 16 jars of it on my hips at this point. I guess I’ll have to stop buying chocolates by the bag because I cannot, cannot, cannot stop myself from stuffing half the bag into my fat face at once.

I don't even take the wrappers off first.

For my second resolution, I’ve decided to write a book. I’ve been saying I’m going to write a book (well, books plural, if I’m honest) since I was old enough to know what a book is, and yet I still haven’t written any yet. Well, except for my undergraduate thesis, but that one doesn’t count because it sucked.

There’s a reason I haven’t written any books yet, and it’s not that I’m lazy (honest). It’s just this one small problem I have with plots – namely, I can’t think of any. And before you say, “But wait, the undergraduate thesis!” that one didn’t have a plot. (I told you it sucked.) I even have multiple folders on my hard drive that were born in the highest hope of one day containing books, but do not, because alas, I could not think of any plots. I still don’t know what I’m going to do about that, but I’ve got all year to figure it out, so what’s the rush? I thought maybe telling literally the whole world would help, but if not, I guess I could try getting drunk.
It's worked for plenty of other authors, right?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: My Year in Review

Just when you probably thought I was never going to blog again, I’m back. I totes should have probably written more Christmas posts this year, but I already wrote a ton last year and the year before, and there’s only so many things you can say about Christmas. Maybe by next Christmas I’ll think of some great new ideas, and maybe monkeys will fly out of my ass.

Anyhoo, it’s New Year’s Eve, and that can mean only one thing – time to get drunk! Woohoo! Also, time to reflect on the year gone by, but not in a sad, mopey, “I’m 365 days older and {redacted} pounds fatter” kind of way, but in a happy, positive, “the future’s so bright and Christ it burns” kind of way.

I'm kind of failing at optimism right now, so here's a smore.

I just looked over last year’s “year in review” post and realized that this year hasn’t been nearly as eventful as the previous year. I’ve just been kind of maintaining this year. LET’S REVIEW:

I Started Rescuing Cats

In January (I think), I started volunteering with a local cat rescue, Homeward Bound (formerly Friends of the Four-Legged and Furry) and started rescuing cats. There’s really not much else to say. I’ve helped rescue a lot of cats. If you need a cat, I can hook you up.

I Got Stiffed by a Client, But They Paid Me in the End

This was perhaps the most exciting thing that happened to me this year. Regular readers will know that at the beginning of the year, I did some work for a company called Crowdsource and then they didn’t pay me for it. I wrote a whole blog post about it if you want the details. Long story short, they didn’t pay me for like six months, until I filed complaints online at, Writer’s Weekly, and here, among other places – at which point, the VP of Workforce contacted me and personally intervened in order to make sure I got paid every cent I was owed. It was a very pleasant surprise.

I Got Another Cat

"What, I do what I want."

This one is related to the first one, because that’s where I got the new cat. Not that I’m some crazy cat lady who can’t control herself when presented with cats. I needed a second cat, because the first cat was going bonkers with sheer boredom. He had taken to sneaking up behind me, leaping up and sinking his claws and teeth into my ass, just to entertain himself. So I got him another cat so he would have someone else to bite – someone who can bite back, and teach him how it feels. Fatty has been happier, more cuddly and less bitey since the Noob came to live with us, although he’ll still capitalize on the opportunity to bite my houseguests whenever I might have some.

And do other kitty things, like stealing my chairs.

I Made Some New Friends 

This was good, because a lot of my old friends kind of sucked. Joking.

Not joking.

I Broke My Ass, and It’s Not Okay

So this just happened last week and I haven’t been to the doctor yet so I don’t have confirmation, but I’m pretty sure I broke my tailbone snowboarding on Christmas Day. That’s what I get for trying to spend Christmas doing something I enjoy instead of with my family, re-enacting Jerry Springer’s greatest moments. I really love snowboarding and now I’m not going to be able to do it for at least another month and maybe not even for the rest of the winter, so I’m upset. After this, I’m getting butt armor.