Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A date with 3 birds.

Picked up one at the airport today.

The other two will be picked up tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In the spirit of Thanksgiving (3 days away), can somebody please tell me the difference between Puten and Truthahn?

I have this feeling that it's female vs. male? But then I thought a male turkey could be called a capon in English, a mistake which once seemed to have cost me a friendship, but I later found out it is a castrated rooster.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Henry Waxman

Waxman was just voted the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. I like this guy. This can only mean things getting better. The fact that he has a kinda corny smile just makes it better. Cause he seems to not like taking any shit. Here I found some interesting clips if Waxman doing his thing on youtube:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


As I'm getting pumped up for the Michigan-OSU game this evening, a clip from the better times, when Michigan was not having it's worst season in its entire history, but rather going undefeated to win the national championship with Charles Woodson winning the heisman, and along the way making the greatest. interception. ever.

He was throwing the ball away. He was just trying to throw the ball away like smart QB.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You're Not Helping

Some careless reporting and some unfortunate quotes and I see this thing is going to turn into a joke for the christian right creationists to use to poke fun at evolution. Of course the general scientific community will not be affected nor most readers, but at some level it's better not to encourage them I think.

"Kangaroo genes close to humans" is the sensational title of the article. But what does 'close' mean? This, of course, is all relative. Closer to humans than squid are, yes. Closer than fungi, absolutely. Close like primates? No fucking way, not even close.

Saying that "much of it was similar to the genome for humans" means nothing of course alone.
We humans have genes that are nearly identical to those in yeast.

At the end of the article there is an attempt to put it in perspective, but again with the one-liners I just can't see how the lay-reader will make any sense of any of this:

"Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, the researchers found, while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago."
"Wait, what?" one might think "I thought we were like kangaroos. But now we're more like mice? Does that mean twice as much like mice?"

But then the end of the article is the worst of all:
"Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago," Graves said.
No context. No explanation. An image is conjured of kangaroos walking around 150 million years ago and then evolving into humans. No no no. It's rather all very indirect and 'we' is thrown around loosely. Now coincidentally having had he opportunity to hear this very Jenny Graves speak at a top scientific meeting outside of Brisbane a few years ago (Great talk by the way and the closing talk of the meeting), I would say that if in fact that quote came from her without more context, she did it on purpose just to mix things up and get people talking. (And to of course bring spotlight to her unique research into the genomes of endemic Australian species).

But this article is just generally useless. Does anybody get anything out of it? "Kangaroo genes close to human" and then nothing. gah. It's time more mainstream press took the initiative to actually understand the science behind these discoveries and make an effort to explain it to the population. People aren't stupid. They can handle it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It Pays to Speak German (literally)

When I go see a doctor here, I usually start out using German, and see if I can make it through the appointment without one of us feeling the need to switch to English. With one doctor I've been seeing regularly for 4 years now, and who can speak perfect English, we now converse in German. When we started he would always start in German, and then only switch when I would ask. Eventually I had enough confidence not to feel the need to ask.
Sometimes when I'm seeing new doctors, like I have been recently for some sort of nagging adductor tendinitis - groin pull - I start in German, but a combination of not understanding new technical medical words in German and wanting to make sure I'm perfectly clear about what the doctors are saying leads us to switch to English. I would say 3 of 4 doctors I see can speak English much better than I can German. Even the ones that can't speak English well make a good-hearted attempt, and I appreciate that, and we try to work out the technical jargon between us.
In many ways it's fun for me to make it through an appointment without having to switch to English. Gives me a boost to start my day. But I never in my dreams thought it would be financially beneficial. Until now. I was just opening doctor bills and going through charges, and I cam across one from a new doctor that I'd never seen before. Under it, it reads:

"Begründung: sprächliche Verständigungsschwerichkeiten: Anwendung Zweitsprache Englisch"

And then a charge of 17 euros. The above says the reason for the charge is there were difficulties in understanding and the doctor had to change and use a second language, English.
I'm seriously dumbfounded. Especially since the rest of the charges amounted to 75 euros, basically for this doctor to tell me after 15 minutes I needed to see a different doctor. He didn't tell me when we were 3/4 the way through the appointment that when I asked to clarify something by describing it in English it would cost me 20 bucks.
Doctor H. Witzigmann of the Friedrichstadt Krankenhaus, a true winner.
Again, never in 4 years have I ever seen this charge on a doctor bill.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Sometimes I read conservative blogs, just to see things like this.
Will Obama Blow the Progress of the Last 8 Years?
(no it's not a joke.)
Here you can find jokes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008