Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Medical Science Worksheet I

It has recently been brought to my attention that the term "food poisoning" is technically limited to foodborne unpleasantness caused by toxins, as for example the toxin produced by the cholera bacterium (Vibrio cholerae), whereas viruses, even if transmitted through the same food and having the same effects, don't count as food poisoning because there is no specific "poison:" the effects of the virus are caused by the immune system's attempt to remove the virus, and not by anything the virus makes per se.

Based on the above, classify the following scenarios into "food poisoning," "not food poisoning," or "either / don't know" by labeling each with a Y, N, or ?, respectively.

___ 1. Jessica Guilford goes to Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop1 and subsequently has an excruciating day and a half sitting on the toilet because some dumbfuck who works there (and possibly shouldn't even have come in to work that day, if he'd been sick that recently) doesn't wash his hands after going to the bathroom and transfered norovirus to her roast beef sandwich.

___ 2. Kindly old Mrs. Schmidt down the street serves her husband a bowl of chicken noodle soup, to which she has added enough warfarin (rat poison) to drop a small horse.

___ 3. A server in a restaurant sneezes on your pizza as she brings it to your table. You never experience any symptoms or find out about the sneeze.

___ 4. A KGB agent spritzes a solution of Polonium-210 into the air in a restaurant where food is being served.

___ 5. A relief aid worker in one of those countries with all the problems gives a glass of water to a small child, which water turns out to contain cholera bacteria and poliovirus.

___ 6. As with #1, except that Ms. Guilford gets E. coli and lands in the hospital for two weeks and eventually has to have a kidney transfusion, which she can't afford because she's bankrupt from the initial hospital stay, and, sadly, she dies mere weeks later.

___ 7. You eat strawberries grown in Mexico which are tainted with Hepatitis A and become ill.

___ 8. You eat strawberries grown downwind of a coal-burning power plant and develop heavy-metal poisoning.

___ 9. You eat strawberries grown in an idyllic organic utopia, but you eat them at a picnic table which is downwind of a coal-burning power plant and develop heavy metal poisoning.

___ 10. You eat a hamburger, made from beef that came from a herd of cows, 15% of which test positive for mad cow disease. 50 years later, you develop Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

1(I'm pretty sure.)

Answers in comments
.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Future of the United States Pop Quiz IV

1. The first planet outside the Solar System found to have detectable liquid water on its surface, discovered in 2009, also had what other unexpected quality?

a. Its atmosphere contained approximately 20% oxygen.
b. Its atmosphere contained approximately 20% chlorine.
c. It was also the source of radio waves which are thought to be a signal from an alien civilization.
d. It was orbiting a type-O (blue giant) star.


2. The sport of boxing was officially made illegal in the United States in what year?

a. 2011
b. 2025
c. 2030
d. 2074


3. Which relatively common pop-cultural item from 2007 will be regarded by your children as soon as 2018 not only as lame and unfashionable, but as encapsulating everything that was wrong with the first decade of the 21st century?

a. "Jesus fish" (bumper decal)
b. sport-utility vehicles
c. The Secret (book by Rhonda Byrne)
d. blogs


4. What turns out to have been causing men's sperm counts to decline around the world for the last several decades?

a. airborne mercury from industry, coal-burning, etc.
b. iodized salt
c. changes in the magnetic field of the Earth
d. phthalate esters (plasticizers)


5. Which former childhood disease has seen a 5000% increase in incidence in the U.S., as well as the emergence of antibiotic-resistant forms, between the years 1980 and 2050, and what is the one factor most responsible for its return?

a. cholera; backlash against water chlorination due to media alarmism about chlorinated hydrocarbon residues in drinking water
b. syphilis; decline in safe-sex education and practices due to increased Evangelical control of U.S. government from about 1978 to 2028
c. pertussis (whooping cough); backlash against vaccination due to media alarmism about alleged links between vaccination and autism
d. anthrax; repeated releases of weaponized, genetically-engineered bacteria by a former Pentagon scientist with Aryan Nation sympathies between 2015 and 2017.


6. Which of the following is not thought or known to be extinct by 2045?

a. Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
b. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
c. Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
d. Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)


7. The Rapture (return of Jesus Christ to take the true believers into Heaven), as predicted by Evangelical Christians, occured on:

a. July 16, 2007
b. March 7, 2045
c. July 3, 2061
d. the Rapture has not yet occurred as of 31 Dec 2099.


8. The major breakthrough in production of renewable energy was ______, and it occurred in ____.

a. the invention of solar panels which were 40-45% efficient in converting solar energy to electrical energy; 2007
b. the invention of "Hydrolox" (solid-phase, low-flammability storage medium for hydrogen gas); 2009
c. the invention of caralamide, a catalyst for decomposing water to hydrogen and oxygen; 2017
d. the creation of the first self-replicating wind power plant; 2059


9. Which of the following mythical creatures was created in 2061 by Dr. Govinda Gopalakrishnan through genetic engineering?

a. Green dragon (Varanus technetius chlorophthalamus)
b. Unicorn (Equus monoceros)
c. Manticore (Chimera vox)
d. Hydra (Lernaea polycephalis)


10. What is the name of the federal agency, founded in 2015, which is responsible for approving the contents of any and all postings on the internet before they may be accessed by other users?

a. National Internet Decency Administration (NIDA)
b. United States Internet Commission (USIC)
c. Internet and Media Entertainment Enforcement Board (IMEEB)
d. Small Media Access Regulatory Agency (SMARA)

Answers are located in comments.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Psychology Pop Quiz I

I have been tagged by Stan for one of those blog memes that people pass around. I'm not a big fan of these, and in fact consider them only a slight improvement on the lame questionnaires people e-mail one another ("What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?" "What are your pets' names?" "Do you prefer silver or gold?"), which I have never responded to either, but since it's Stan, I'll go ahead.

However, in the interest of preserving deniability, and making a KNK post out of this (and hasn't it been a long time? Sorry about that.), I'm going to tell you seven things you may not know about me, of which five are true. The pop-quiz aspect of the post is obviously that you are to identify which of the seven are true and which are false. Except that I probably won't ever tell you which is which.

A) I have both spoken in tongues and cast out demons.

B) I'm kind of a snob about cheese.

C) I'm really a man.

D) My childhood home was turned into a meth lab, bought by the neighbors, and then demolished.

E) I voted for George H. W. Bush in 1992.

F) I've spent over $700 on houseplants and houseplant-related materials (lights, pots, soil) since August.

G) I'm still technically a virgin.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Meteorology Pop Quiz I

In which hemisphere (Northern or Southern) was this hurricane, and how can you tell?


Answer is in the comments.

Sociology Project III / Political Science Project I

Estimate the percentage of Americans responding "yes" to the following question:

Do you trust yourself, and the United States Government, both enough that you are certain that you will never find yourself morally compelled to commit an act which would be defined as "treason" or "terrorism" by the government, or agents thereof? (This excludes acts which are not prosecuted: i.e. if your someone who works at the Post Office gets upset with you and calls you a terrorist, but no charges are ever brought, this incident would not count for purposes of the question. "Yes" is the law-abiding answer.)

Now estimate the percentage of each of the following groups in your community who would answer "yes:"

1. Catholic women between 25 and 40 years of age
2. African-American men age 40 to 65
3. Women who identify their religious preference as Wiccan
4. All gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people
5. Hispanic women under the age of 25
6. All Native Americans
7. White male Protestants under the age of 25
8. Whites who identify themselves as "very liberal" or "somewhat liberal"
9. All persons who identify their religious preference as Muslim
10. All persons who identify as atheist or agnostic

Next, perform the survey by telephone. Record:

the respondent's age range (under 25, 25-40, 40-65, over 65),
gender (including whether or not the respondent has always been legally recognized as his/r current legal gender),
religious affiliation,
ethnicity as reported on U.S. census data,
sexual orientation (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual),
and political leaning (very liberal, somewhat liberal, middle-of-the-road, somewhat conservative, very conservative, libertarian, other/don't know)

These demographic subdivisions should be recorded before asking the question, to avoid attempts by prejudiced persons from answering falsely in order to make other groups look bad.

Ideally, you should have about 400 responses for a meaningful result; extra credit will be provided for additional responses at a rate of one percentage point for each additional 50 responses. You must be able to document all responses (phone numbers called, dates and times of the calls, recordings of the calls, or some similar method of proving that you did make the calls as recorded and got the responses you report) if asked to do so; failure to comply will result in a failing grade.

(You may also conduct the surveys by mail, and present the completed surveys as evidence, if you like, though be aware that self-selection may make your results invalid. Also, mailed surveys may not be enough to meet the 400-response requirement, so be sure to allow enough time to perform phone surveys if this becomes necessary. If you end up doing both kinds, report the method of response along with your other data.)

Write an analysis, after the compilation of all data, which summarizes trends across different demographics. Which groups see themselves as most likely to be in compliance with future U.S. governments? Did any respondents volunteer any comments which might explain differences between groups? How closely did your predictions match the actual results? What explains the differences between prediction and actual data, if any differences are significant?

Finally, write a three-page personal essay in which you answer the question yourself and explain your response.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Future of the United States Pop Quiz III

1. Increasing climatic changes due to global warming will lead to a paradoxical cooldown in _____________ by the year 2040.

a. The Western Great Lakes (MI, OH, IN, WI)
b. The Upper Mississippi Valley (ND, MN, IA, WI)
c. The Pacific Northwest (WA, ID, OR, CA)
d. The Southeast (FL, GA, SC, AL, TN)


2. What region of the country will be decimated in the year 2032 by a new and specifically North American strain of West Nile virus?

a. The Desert Southwest (CA, AZ, NV, NM)
b. The Upper Mississippi Valley (ND, MN, IA, WI)
c. The Pacific Northwest (WA, ID, OR, CA)
d. The Southeast (FL, GA, SC, AL, TN)


3. In the fashion world of the year 2019, _______________ will be the new black.

a. silver
b. bioluminescence
c. carbohydrates
d. black


4. What is the official cause of death on Madonna's death certificate, in 2030?

a. asphyxiation
b. heart attack
c. extraterrestrial parasite
d. antibiotic-resistant staph infection


5. The long-anticipated Big One (earthquake) hits the San Francisco Bay Area in which year?

a. 2008
b. 2016
c. 2020
d. 2028


6. What is the male-to-female ratio of the crew on the first interstellar spaceship, and in what year is it launched?

a. 50/50; 2049
b. 67/33; 2019
c. 0/100; 2032
d. 25/75; 2078


7. What is notable about an American citizen who turns 80 in the year 2069?

a. S/he has reached retirement age.
b. S/he is eligible to receive cybernetic replacement body parts.
c. S/he has become the world's oldest living human being.
d. S/he is legally permitted to create a clone of him-/rself.


8. Which of these is nearest to the price of a barrel of crude oil in the year 2030, in 2006 dollars?

a. $95.00
b. $170.00
c. $638.00
d. $2,370.00


9. Which two states are no longer part of the U.S. as of the year 2041?

a. Hawaii and Vermont
b. Utah and Texas
c. Hawaii and Utah
d. South Dakota and Vermont


10. What genetically engineered animal escapes laboratory confinement in 2020 and becomes a common crop pest, destroying up to 30% of the corn, soybeans, and wheat grown in the U.S., and which company developed it originally?

a. The Giant Chicken (Gallus gallus megalodon); Archer Daniels Midland
b. The Betabug (Adalia hartii x betaluminius); GlaxoSmithKline
c. The Nemonsantode (Caenorhabditis monsantulus); Monsanto
d. The Cancer Mouse (Mus transgenicus carcinophorus); Genentech

My answers are located in the comments.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Religion Project III

I hope that everyone had a pleasant Winter Break, and I trust that you are all ready to begin learning again. Our first project will be a religious one.

Background: Syncretism is the process by which two or more religious practices become intertwined. Generally, when two groups with competing beliefs encounter one another, they are mutually hostile, and one group is militarily successful over the other. However, this does not always mean that the religious beliefs of the defeated tribe vanish: women and children, taken as slaves and wives, may perpetuate their beliefs (though obviously these beliefs will have to change somewhat) even in captivity, and from time to time these beliefs and practices will appeal to the victorious group and become gradually incorporated into the victors' religion. There is some evidence, to name but one example, that Judaism shaped and was shaped by the religious practices of the Canaanites (who were conquered by the Israelites) and Babylonians (who conquered the Israelites).

Goals and Methods: You will be divided into groups of three or four students each, and I will select a combination of two or three religions for each group at random, which combination is written at the bottom of this page. Your groups will then be responsible for creating a syncretistic religion around the combination of founding religions I assign. You may wish to divide up the responsibility for different aspects of the resulting belief system among the different members of your group: for example, one member might focus on specific beliefs (how many deities? what are their names, relationships to one another, and responsibilities? What is the religion's creation myth?), one on day-to-day rituals and practices (special holidays and observances, particular beliefs relating to moral behavior, rituals and their symbolism), one on objects relating to the belief system (for example: scriptures, temples or places of worship, iconic objects or idols, locations of particular significance, etc.), and one on continuity, which is to say, making the contributions of the other members fit into a coherent whole. The last member, the one responsible for the continuity, will also be preparing the final report and presenting it to the class, along with whatever other materials (models, scriptures, songs, etc.) have been prepared.

The final report should include the following:

-Name of the founder(s)
-Approximate date of the beginnings of the religion
-Name of the religion
-Brief history of the followers, their persecution, etc.
-Holy sites, if any (with models as appropriate)
-Holy scriptures, if any
-Beliefs regarding the afterlife
-Beliefs regarding sexuality (appropriate age, number of husbands/wives, marriage ceremonies, acceptable partnerings, etc.)
-Number of gods and their responsibilities, interests, abilities, etc.
-Holy days
-Unusual features (cannibalism, transvestitism, self-sacrifice, alien worship, etc.)

Your group will then be asked to answer questions from myself and the rest of the class. Your final grade will depend on your overall thoroughness, visual aids (if any), and coherence.

Your combination is: Seventh-Day Adventism + Shaktism.

If your group feels that this is not a workable combination (as is possible; these were chosen at random), you may substitute either of the following:

Cargo cults + Unitarian Universalism

Pastafarianism + Evangelical Christianity

Monday, November 21, 2005

Art Project VIII / Biology Project II

you will need:

"holographic" projection equipment capable of producing a large (approx. 8 foot cube) three-dimensional image (not necessarily a real hologram)
a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with associated high-memory computer
a certified MRI operator
interactive three-dimensional imaging software

WARNING: Do not attempt this project if you know or suspect you have internal metallic components of any kind (pacemaker, arterial stent, interior pins or braces of any kind, orthodontic braces, etc.), as might be left from a surgery or injury (shrapnel, bullets). Ask your dentist or primary care physician about interference from dental fillings. This is extremely important: your personal health is very much at risk. MRI machines generate very intense local magnetic fields, which can produce considerable force on magnetically susceptible objects.


1. Remove all metal or magnetically-written objects from your person and clothing. This may include, but is not limited to: clothing with metal zippers, credit cards, car keys, hotel keys or key cards, pocket change, some forms of governmental ID, pocket knives, cigarette lighters, watches, eyeglasses, belt buckles, nail clippers, paper clips, and cell phones. You may then put on a hospital gown and enter the MRI room.

2. Lie down in the MRI apparatus according to the instructions of the operator. You will need to remain relatively still for best results, so choose a position which is comfortable.

3. Lie as still as possible while your scans are being recorded.

4. Transfer the data from your scan to a three-dimensional imaging program. You may wish to use false color to make the various organs more visually distinct from one another. Feel free to separate the scans into multiple images, if desired (the tree of bronchioles in the lungs, the network of blood vessels, the digestive tract, the skeleton): this will improve viewability later.

5. Display your scan results in the projection equipment. Enter the projection and view your body close-up, from the inside. Wander around for as long as you like. You may leave the projection up as an art piece for others to wander through, if desired.

6. Answer the following questions:

a) In what ways did you find your body to be unlike the standard human body from our textbook? Are you proportioned in the same way? Are your organs in the same places?
b) Did you find evidence of birth defects, past surgeries or injuries (broken bones, e.g.)? How could you tell?
c) How did it feel to be inside the image of your body? What emotions were generated? How do you feel about it now?
d) If you elected to allow other people to walk around inside the image: is this in some way an invitation to intimacy with the viewers? Are you proud of your body? Do the images you recorded strike you as beautiful?
e) If you elected not to allow others to walk around inside the image: to what degree do you own representations of your own body? How is it different for someone to look at a false-color version of your insides than it would be for the same person to look at you, fully clothed, on the street?
f) Describe your visual impressions (what surprised you, what did it remind you of, etc.) of each of the following systems: nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, genitourinary, respiratory, musculoskeletal.
g) What parts of your body, if any, will you be giving more thought to as a result of this project? Are there any parts you will be contemplating less than previously?
h) If you have the opportunity to view the projected scan of a classmate, describe your reactions to his/r image. What was surprising? What was different from your own scan? Did the experience strike you as intimate? Could you distinguish between your body and your classmates' body solely on the basis of, for example, your respiratory systems, or are they too similar to permit distinction? If the classmate is of the opposite sex, how easily could this be determined without looking specifically at reproductive organs?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Future of the United States Pop Quiz II

Write brief but complete answers for the following questions. Each question is worth 33 1/3 points.

1. Twenty-six percent of American children under two years of age have a television in their bedrooms.1 Explain.

2. Eighty-nine percent of the Fortune top 100 companies use the Myers-Briggs personality test in employee placement and hiring.1 Explain.

3. About seven hundred new antibacterial products have been introduced into U.S. markets in the past ten years.3 Explain.

1 Susan Linn, Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, p.5. The New Press, New York, 2004.

2 Barbara Ehrenreich, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, p.32. Metropolitan Books, New York, 2005.

3 Jeanette Farrell, Invisible Allies: Microbes That Shape Our Lives, p.16. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2005.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sociology Project II / Art Project VII

You will need:

a small digital video camera with a wireless connection, or an easily-hidden connection to a laptop computer
a baseball cap
a six- or twelve-pack of cheap beer
needle and thread
chewing tobacco
high-quality photographic paper (optional)

1. Locate attire which as nearly as possible approximates the clothing of a homeless person. (You may, if you like, locate an actual homeless person and offer to trade outfits or buy them a new outfit, though this may not actually work.)

2. Get about eight cans of beer and empty them (you may drink the beer if you are of legal age.). Place about 100 mL of water and a quarter-sized plug of chewing tobacco into each one, and set the cans outside in the sun for five to ten days.

3. Partially empty the cans and place them in a small plastic shopping bag. It's okay if some of the liquid remains in the cans, or sloshes out of them while you put them in the bag.

4. Spend about a week without shaving or bathing. Use some of this time to get your clothing dirty, sweaty, and torn.

5. Using the needle and thread, attach the video camera to the inside of your baseball cap. Make sure that the camera can be positioned so that it has a relatively unobstructed view of anything in front of you when you wear it, yet cannot be easily seen by others.

6. Go out into public in the full outfit, with the camera on and running, carrying the bag of cans, and record as much video as possible. Spend as much time as you can in public places, places of business, etc., and make a point of trying to look directly at people in the area. You may need to upload some of the video into a storage computer and then go out again. The more video you can shoot, the better. Approaching people directly may be helpful.

7. Return to your home, change clothing, shave, bathe, etc. Return any borrowed clothing to its owner(s).

8. Search the video for single frames of people's faces. Ideally, you want to catch people in the moment where they first notice you, when they are facing you directly (or as close to directly facing you as possible), and when the image is relatively unblurred. Alternately, frames in which people are beginning to turn away, frames in which you catch furtive glances, etc. may be used.

9. Save as many separate frames from the video as satisfy your standards for emotion, direction, and clarity.

10a. Edit these images together into a video where the images are looped together and change about every 1-5 seconds, OR,
10b. Print out these images on high-quality photographic paper and mount and display them.

11. Title your collection.