The other day, my mom got ants in her pants and decided to make her lemon chiffon cake in a bundt pan. Except she left out the lemon and added chocolate! Chocolate chiffon? Maybe. What really surprised me is her recipe book. I’ve seen it every time she’s baked ever since I can remember, but for some reason, I saw it with new eyes this time.
Isn’t that something? Talk about a relic. I just love it.
Politics and social media are a terrible mix. I wonder if it doesn’t at least partly explain why politics is increasingly polarized. Let me give you an example.
This morning I visited a Facebook group called the National Conservative News Network Canada. Despite its name, it’s not a news network in any sense. It’s merely a group inhabited by a bunch of people who hold strong opinions and don’t want to hear any others. I visited because of a particular graphic that forcefully told the reader that all flags in the country should immediately be flown at half-mast for sixteen days, one day for each of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team members killed on Friday in Saskatchewan.
As you might imagine, the suggestion created quite a discussion. One group felt that lowering the flag is best limited to when members of the Canadian Forces are killed on active duty. The group owner, who favours the flag-lowering for the hockey team members, tried to invalidate that position by pointing out that Prime Minister used his executive privilege to have the flag lowered for his “good pal” Gord Downing.
Until this point in the discussion, I had no real skin in the game. However, when a person championing an action for the respect of the dead, makes a mockery of the name of another person who has passed on, I had no choice but to jump in. That feeling only increased as there were three other instances of the group owner making reference to Gord Downing.
I replied, pointing out that given his respect for the dead, the least he could do is spell Gord Downie’s name correctly. He came back with a graphic of the Peace Tower flag schedule indicating it was lowered in honour of Gord Downie. I looked up and saw he had corrected his mistake, trying to pass of my comment as an error on my part. Facebook labeled his post as having been edited, and clicking the “Edited” indicator, he correct the spelling three minutes after I pointed out the error. In reply, I suggested that it was a simple error, and he should simply own it, rather than correcting it and pretending he made no mistake. Hell, it was likely an autocorrection error he missed. Be an adult and admit it!
Hours later I checked back and found that the group owner had banned me from the National Conservative News Network Canada. This banning also deleted all my comments and any replies.
So rather than a discussion area, the group owner has gathered around him people who think just as he does and parrot the same opinions. Anyone who raises a dissenting voice is summarily silenced. It’s a fragile ego indeed who can’t accept a spelling correction! Is it any wonder people can’t discuss politics or religion any more without things getting out of hand? These jokers have fashioned echo chambers where everyone allowed in agrees with them. How can they ever learn reasoned discourse?
But the real kicker? The image you see to the right is the profile image attached to the National Conservative News Network Canada Facebook page. They seemed to have missed the warning against having one’s own opinions, voicing them, or even having <gasp!> an original idea … never mind something as minor as pointing out a spelling error of significance.
I feel terrible. I’m sick of feeling terrible and I’m upset that I haven’t written in a while so here I am, against my better judgement.
This winter has been terrible in terms of illness. Most people I know have been sick multiple times. I can’t remember if this is my third or fourth time.
It started with a sore throat. The next day it got worse. I described it as a raging sore throat. The day after is was somewhat better but I thought it best to get things checked out. Happily, it wasn’t the throat infection I was expecting, but rather it is 98% likely to be some unknown viral thing that my immune system would take care of in a week or so.
So what is the other 2% chance? Strep! The dreaded streptococcal pharyngitis1. They took a throat swab and told me that if it was strep throat, they would be in touch in a day or two. Happily, that time has expired.
What blew my mind is something else the doctor told me about strep. He told me that not only is strep throat miserable, but it can lead to much more serious things. Chief among them is acute rheumatic fever2. This is particularly nasty because it can lead to rheumatic heart disease. The body attacks the strep bacteria of course, but this can cause an autoimmune reaction resulting in the body attacking the heart itself. According to Wikipedia,
Chronic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is characterized by repeated inflammation with fibrinous repair. The cardinal anatomic changes of the valve include leaflet thickening, commissural fusion, and shortening and thickening of the tendinous cords. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction to Group A β-hemolytic streptococci (GAS) that results in valvular damage. Fibrosis and scarring of valve leaflets, commissures and cusps leads to abnormalities that can result in valve stenosis or regurgitation.3
So you catch a bacterial illness and it damages your heart! How messed up is that? Even worse is that rheumatic fever is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in India and sub-Saharan Africa4. That’s astonishing to me.
Happily, I’ll be having none of that since what I have isn’t strep. Thank goodness!
And a word of warning … if you follow those links to Wikipedia, be ready for photos of infected throats. I don’t recommend it.
So there I was, earlier today, looking for something to watch. I came across Jerome Bixby’s Man From Earth on Amazon Prime. I don’t know what it was about the film that had me start it, but start it I did.
I’m not going to offer any spoilers at all because I want you to see this film. It has the best part of good science fiction … namely, it makes you think, “Whoa, imagine that!” So much science fiction does not do that, and is less for it. This is the IMDb synopsis:
An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine.
Jerome Bixby wrote for Star Trek and The Twilight Zone so you know he knows what’s what. Unfortunately though, this screenplay was his last work before he died.
It’s not a high budget production, but it’s riveting and a fine piece of writing.
A reply queried who is responsible for the drawing and Czerski responded that the lab workers told her that the drawing has been taped up on the wall since everyone there can remember.
I first saw Helen Czerski co-hosting the BBC documentary Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey† with Kate Humble. I immediately started following Czerski on Twitter. Although she’s a physicist and an oceanographer, her interests range across the sciences. You should follow her too!
†Available on Netflix US, but not Netflix Canada, as of this writing. I highly recommend the documentary.