amberfern: A fasciotomy is a surgical procedure where the fascia is cut to relieve tension or pressure. The fascia is thin connective tissue covering, or separating, the muscles and internal organs of the body. It varies in thickness, density, elasticity, and composition, and is different from ligaments and tendons. The fascia can be injured either through constant strain or through trauma....
6/29/11 (Equestrian Statue Symbolism)
I have heard the following information before: If you come across a statue in a park of a war-hero on a horse, take note of the horse’s position. If the horse has two legs in the air, the rider died in battle; if the horse has one leg in the air, the rider died from wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four hooves on the ground, the rider died for reasons unrelated to battle. ...
I’m sure many people have heard of homonyms — words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings, like ‘yore’, ‘your’, and ‘you’re’. But, as I have discovered today, nyms also come in “hetero” flavors! Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same (homographs), but do not sound alike (they’re heterophones). These...
6/27/11 (Switching Tumblr Primary and Secondary...
Turns out, Tumblr is a bit funny. I decided that I wanted to start a tumblr for silly, inconsequential things — more typical tumblr, if you will — when I found out that if I created a secondary blog, I would be unable to follow anyone. I also found out that it’s impossible to simply switch primary and secondary blogs on tumblr. Looking into it more, I realized that I should have done things...
6/26/11 (Mondegreens and Oronyms)
thegiraffery: Ever get a song in your head with wrong lyrics? For me it’s Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” The song goes: I throw my hands up in the air sometimes Saying AYO Gotta let go But I always hear “AYO, Galileo.” Growing up, I misheard CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” as well. “There’s a bad moon on the rise” became “There’s a bathroom on the right.” Turns out, this mishearing of lyrics has a...
6/25/11 (Palindromic Number)
thegiraffery: A palindrome is a word that’s the same forwards and backwards. Mom, Pop, Deed, and Race Car are all examples. There are longer ones, too: Sit on a potato pan, Otis. Go hang a salami; I’m a lasagna hog! and the famous A man, a plan, a canal: Panama! If you apply the same logic to numbers, check out this fun arithmetic. 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
6/24/11 (Lying Down)
thegiraffery: Accumbent, Recumbent, Decumbent, and Procumbent are all synonyms. Each one means “lying down” or “In a position of rest.” In science, however, they have carefully differentiated meanings. Recumbent, in geology, describes a fold in a rock formation in which the axial plane is nearly horizontal. In Biology, it refers to a part or organ that lies against another organ or the ground....
6/23/11 (Summer Solstice and Honeymoons)
thegiraffery: A few days ago, the Northern Hemisphere had it’s summer solstice — the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. It’s also known as Midsummer, as in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The term “Solstice” comes from the Latin words for “Sun” and “To Stand Still.” On the summer solstice, the day is so long that the sun spends so much time in the sky, it appears to stand still. ...
thegiraffery: A platypus is a very special animal, I’m sure we all agree. But one reason is that the platypus is a mammal that lays eggs. Egg-laying mammals are called “monotremes.” The word monotreme means “Single Hole,” referring to the cloaca. The Cloaca is an orifice found in birds, amphibians, and reptiles that serves as the single opening for all urinary, excretory, and reproductive...
thegiraffery: Here are various definitions of this small word: A small piece of wood used to level a table or chair A type of sharp weapon, often improvised The wooly waste material from flax and linseed plants Simian Human Immunodeficiency Virus A version of Shiva, a Hindu god (or sometimes a Hindu man’s name) A shortened version of Siobhan A nickname for the West Indies Cricket Player...
6/20/11 (Holometabolism and Imagines)
thegiraffery: As I’m sure all of us know, some insects (like butterflies) undergo metamorphosis, or a transformation. This, in the world of entomology, is called holometabolism. Holo, from the Greek word for “whole”, and metabolism from the Greek word for “change.” Insects that are holometabolistic experience four stages of life: the embryo or egg, the larva, the pupa (this is the point during...
6/19/11 (West Side Story)
thegiraffery: The infamous prologue of West Side Story, featuring the Jets and Sharks having a face off through pure dance (and much snapping) was originally a huge chorus number, filled with lyrics at lightning speed. The lyrics were dropped in favor of pure dance, and the only sounds the chorus produces in the first five minutes are whistles and, of course, finger snapping. Also,...
6/18/11 (Money of Yap)
thegiraffery: This would be the island of Yap, in the Caroline Islands of the Western Pacific. What’s special about this place? Well, it’s of special interest to economists because in Yap, money looks like this. That’s not a trick of the eye. Here’s another picture for some scale. Obviously, people don’t carry this money around in their pockets. The stones are too big even to lift. So...
6/17/11 (Benjamin Franklin Effect)
thegiraffery: According to ChangingMinds.Org, when someone asks you to do them a favor, you like the person more. This is called the Benjamin Franklin Effect, deriving from his quote: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” The reverse implication is that we learn to hate our victims, which goes towards explaining...
6/16/11 (Simpson's Paradox)
thegiraffery: Let’s call this unexpected synergy. Also called the Yule-Simpson effect, it’s a concept in probability and statistics where two different groups present a correlation separately that is reversed when the groups are combined. Here’s an example on Kidney Stone Treatments and the success rates of two treatments. Treatment A Treatment B Small Stones 93% 87% Large Stones 73% 69% ...
6/15/11 (Multiplication By 11)
thegiraffery: Here’s a quick and easy shortcut for multiplying any 2- or 3-digit number by 11. For 2-Digit numbers: Put the first number on the outside, the second number on the inside, and then add the two together for the middle number (Carry the one if necessary). For instance: 11 x 25 = _ _ _ = 2 (2+5) 5 = 275 11 x 42 = 462 11 x 67 = 737 For 3-Digit Numbers, it works like this:...
6/14/11 (Nascar DEPEND)
thegiraffery: According to Sportsman’s Daily, the special fire-retardant pants that NASCAR drivers wear actually come equipped with adult diapers, just in case. After all, would you give up the lead and loose a minute for a call of nature?
6/13/11 (Multiplying Teens)
thegiraffery: Check out this fantastic video from glad2teach for a handy shortcut in multiplying teen numbers!
6/12/11 (Robert FitzRoy)
thegiraffery: When Darwin made his fateful expedition around the world, he observed nature and came up with his theory of Natural Selection. But have you ever wondered why Darwin was sailing around the world in the first place? Well, he was hired by Robert FitzRoy, commander of the HMS Beagle. He was to sail about the world and explore the vast reaches of the British Empire. It would be a long...
6/11/11 (Williams Syndrome)
thegiraffery: Autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger’s Syndrome) are becoming more and more well-known all the time. What I hadn’t heard of is a syndrome that is, in a way, the opposite of autism. Williams Syndrome (or Williams-Beuren Syndrom, as it tends to be called in Europe) is caused by the spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on the seventh chromosome at the time of conception....
6/10/11 (Keirsey Temperament Sorter)
thegiraffery: I’ve been familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality test for a while now, but I’ve recently discovered a very closely related personality test called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. It was first published in Please Understand Me in 1978. There are two big differences. The first is that while Myers-Briggs focused mostly on a person’s view of the world, while Kiersey looks much...
6/9/11 (Birthday Probability)
thegiraffery: A birthday is a special thing. It’s pretty rare to find someone with the same birthday as you, right? Well, maybe not. Turns out, in a room of 23 people, there’s a 50% chance that two people in that room share a birthday. In a room of 30, the probability goes up to 70%. By 57 people, there’s better than a 99% chance of two people having the same birthday. But wait, you might...
6/8/11 (Bankruptcy and Cancer)
thegiraffery: What on Earth could be worse than having Cancer? How about paying for it. According to HealthDay News, the chance of declaring Bankruptcy in the U.S. quadruples after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Cancer patients are twice as likely as the non-Cancer population to declare bankruptcy — in a median time of 2.5 years. And if you’re under 65 (and too young to receive Medicare), the...
thegiraffery: Antinomy. antinomy |anˈtinəmē| noun ( pl. -mies) a contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions that are in themselves reasonable; a paradox. ORIGIN late 16th cent. (in the sense [a conflict between two laws] ): from Latin antinomia, from Greek, from anti ‘against’ + nomos ‘law.’ I discovered this word in David Foster Wallace’s The Broom of the System. He gives the example...
6/6/11 (Alzheimer's Disease)
thegiraffery: Thanks to medschoolweekly for turning me onto this one. I knew that Alzheimer’s was the disease that usually hits the elderly and causes terrifying amounts of memory loss. It is, according to the American Health Assistance Foundation, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and death from Alzheimer’s is often under-reported or mis-diagnosed. What I didn’t know was the actual...
thegiraffery: Who doesn’t love lighting a nice, soothing candle to relax? Turns out, this may be a pretty bad idea. When some substances are burned, including wood, gasoline, diesel fuel, and parafin wax, a substance is released called “Acrolein” (CAS # 107-02-8). According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “80 - 90% of inhaled acrolein is absorbed; most in the upper...
thegiraffery: If you’re anything like me, you’ve been lead to believe that the word “Hypoallergenic” means that it won’t (or is at least far less likely to) cause an allergic reaction. In fact, Oxford American Dictionaries gives the definition as hypoallergenic |ˌhīpō-alərˈjenik| adjective (esp. of cosmetics and textiles) relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. However, the FDA...
6/3/11 (Lifting Physics)
thegiraffery: We all know how levers work, right? There’s a lever that turns over a tipping point called a fulcrum to make downward force at one end lift with an upward force at the other. Think of a teeter-totter. There you go. Well, when we lift things ourselves, our bodies work the same way. Only our levers have the fulcrum all the way at one end. Take your elbow. When you lift something...
thegiraffery: Ever heard of the term “Placebo Effect?” What about a “Control Group?” Most of us know that a placebo is an inert option given to provide a baseline against which to measure the true effectiveness of a treatment without the patient influencing the results through knowledge of having or not having the treatment. Basically, a sugar pill. Remember Dumbo? The magic feather that made...
6/1/11 (Handy Tools)
thegiraffery: This is a skate. This is a foxtail. This is a Stage Screw. It’s nice to know the names for things!
5/31/11 (Semantic Satiation)
thegiraffery: Ever say a word so much that it stops sounding like a word at all? Turns out it’s a phenomenon called Semantic Satiation (Also known as Semantic Saturation or Lapse of Meaning). It was defined by Dr. Leon James (Formerly Leon A. Jackobovits) of the University of Illinois. The basic idea is that the neurons which fire to register the meaning of the word, when over-used, experience...
5/30/11 (Altitude Sickness)
thegiraffery: So, turns out that just being really high up can make you sick. At high altitudes, there isn’t as much oxygen in the air, so when you move quickly to a much higher altitude (usually above 8,000 feet, but sometimes starting at around 6,500 feet), your body can’t adjust to this difference. This can manifest as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, trouble sleeping, lack of appetite,...
5/29/11 (Internet Cable)
thegiraffery: Today, on my travels, I happened to end up sitting next to the wife of the creator of a site called ivi.tv This site provides a traditional television viewing experience (live, commercials, and all) via the internet — for only $5 a month. Basic cable, no waiting, just exactly the same as television, for $5 a month. But this is not a commercial. Read More
thegiraffery: To mark this extra-special day on which I received my undergraduate degree, I offer my favorite commencement address — given by one of my personal heroes, may he rest in peace. Please take the time to read this one if you can. David Foster Wallace address to Kenyon College May 21, 2005. Remember, everyone: This is the water.
5/27/11 (Unintelligent Design)
thegiraffery: Thank you to those who have stopped in to give me tips on where to look further on the subjects of Evolution and Intelligent Design! Given the responses to yesterday’s post, I feel like I should start off by clarifying that I don’t agree with Intelligent Design. I don’t agree with Creationism, either. That doesn’t stop me from finding the arguments of interest. I, personally,...
5/26/11 (Irreducible Complexity)
thegiraffery: So, it’s been a very, very long day and I definitely want to revisit this topic later. But, for now: Read More
5/25/11 (Sex-selective abortions in India)
thegiraffery: According to the New York Times and the Times of India, a study (being published in the British medical journal, The Lancet) has recently shown that Sex-Selective Abortions are on the rise in India. The study, lead by Dr. Prabhat Jha and Dr. Rajesh Kumar, showed that the gap between boy children and girls is getting wider every year. The 1991 census showed 42 million fewer girls...
5/24/11 (Pain Meds and My Little Pony Physics)
thegiraffery: Given that I spent most of today in the ER for a kidney stone, I have learned that something about the combination of Morphine and Dilaudid make me nauseated beyond Zofran’s ability to help. To make up for my lameness, have someone’s awesomeness!
5/23/11 (Credit Reports)
thegiraffery: I love these guys! Who else loves these guys? They’re catchy and adorable! Unfortunately, these appealing commercials are quite misleading. What is a credit report anyway? Read More
5/22/11 (Edvard Grieg)
thegiraffery: This Romantic composer, best known for his suite of incidental music written to accompany Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt, which includes “In the Hall of the Mountain King” But he’s also well known as a composer of solo piano pieces. In fact, his piano pieces are so stirring that many people have heard in them the potential for orchestral coloration and turned into pieces for...
5/21/11 (Creating Jobs and Period Pain)
thegiraffery: Sorry it’s a little late, I was out adventuring. To make up for it, I am giving you a two for one day! Both of my lessons of the day come from the wonder that is National Public Radio. The first is from “This American Life.” Read More
5/20/11 (Credit Cards)
thegiraffery: Ever heard the term “APR?” I know I have about a zillion times, and I’ve never figured out what, exactly, it is. Turns out, it’s Annual Percentage Rate, and it’s a measurement of interest. Credit Cards, especially, tend to use this measurement. According to Yahoo Finance, a “low interest” credit card APR is 10.73%, but most credit cards range between 12.5% - 14.5%. But that...
5/19/11 (Nature Hike)
thegiraffery: Today, I went on a hike with some friends and one of our teachers, and I learned to identify some fun things. This is a Wild Rhododendron. I’m not exactly sure what type we saw, but it was a huge, tree-like one and they were everywhere. They hadn’t gone into full bloom yet, so I can’t really look it up. Turns out that Rhododendrons are an entire genius with over 1,000...
5/18/11 (Countercyclical Fiscal Policy)
thegiraffery: …that government-financed social programs have a macroeconomic benefit. Macroeconomics, boys and girls, is the economics of nations or the world, as opposed to microeconomics, which deals with individual people and businesses. See, it works like this. When the country’s economy is in a recession, it essentially means (in a very simplistic way of putting things) that we we have...
Something New Every Day
thegiraffery: Hello, friends! As May draws to a close, I am nearing my college graduation. This is wonderful for many reasons, but it does mean the end of my life-long career as a student, at least in an official capacity. No longer will I be able to receive student discounts, list ‘student’ as my occupation on government and doctor’s forms, or lounge around endlessly in bookstores and coffee...