Friday, January 30, 2015

And Heinlein Scores Again!

January 28, 2015

Robert A. Heinlein was noted for dreaming up technology or gadgets in his science fiction that subsequently became reality. So I immediately thought of this passage from Stranger in a Strange Land the other day when I read a column by the You Docs.

(Doctor Nelson is giving Mike a checkup, and has questions for Dr. Jubal Harshaw, Mike’s guardian.)

“Doctor,” Nelson said, almost angrily, “I saw this patient only ten days ago. Tell me where he got those muscles?” ...

“Why don’t you ask him?” Jubal suggested.

Nelson did so. “I thinked them,” Mike answered.

And it looks like we can, too. The “You Docs” column cited a study indicating that visualization can actually help protect muscle strength, even when the muscle is immobilized.

Mr. Heinlein got it right again.

Shades of Konrad Lorenz!

(Or, Why Parents Yell at their Kids)

January 25, 2015

Konrad Lorenz, in his studies on imprinting, noticed that the goslings that got stepped on or otherwise roughly treated by their mothers seemed to imprint better. I think of that at various times, such as the following:

“Don’t leave plastic on the cooktop. It’s dangerous.” (Said in a normal tone of voice.)


A few days later: “Seriously, don’t leave plastic on the cooktop. All it takes is for somebody to turn on the burner without thinking, and then we have a mess.” (Still in a reasonable tone of voice, but less sweet.)



“Oh. Okay.” (Finally gets the picture.)

I think Lorenz was on to something.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Just a Bigger Playground

January 22, 2015

I just can't get over a bunch of professional football players cheating by under-inflating the footballs. It's like they're little kids or something. Didn't care that they're cheating, didn't think that they'd get caught...

I'm pretty sure that most 7-year-olds are more realistic than that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Customer Disservice

January 21, 2015

I called DirecTV to let them know we didn’t need one of our receivers any more. The helpful customer service man said, “Well, your contract says you’ve purchased it. So if you don’t need it, you can just throw it away.” I had him repeat that (and took his name, just to be safe); then checked our records, and it seemed that he was right.

Then we received a box in the mail with instructions for returning the receiver and a threat of dire consequences (in the form of fees) if we didn’t.

Luckily, I 
a) Never believe what Customer Service people tell me and 
b) Never throw anything away. So we’re good.

I thought of enclosing a note saying, “Michael at Customer Service said blah, blah, blah,” but figured that any note enclosed would immediately be consigned to the Crank File, on the grounds that nobody but a crazy person would actually expect any help from Customer Service in the first place.