An Example of Acute Agnosiophobia?

I was watching a marathon of House, M.D. the other day and saw an episode called Last Resort. I think this is probably a good example of what I would call acute agnosiophobia; the irrational fear that there is something specific that is not known by the sufferer. Not to be confused with chronic agnosiophobia, which is more like what I describe on my “What Is Agnosiophobia” page.

Essentially in this episode a man takes House and several other people hostage in an attempt to force House to diagnose him. At one point he says “You’re not me. This is my body. This is my life. And there’s a truth out there. I’d rather rot in jail knowing than… I can’t handle not knowing.”

Sounds like agnosiophobia to me. What say you?

Just For The Fun Of It?!?

Until now I thought I was the only person who was silly enough to teach myself calculus just for the fun of it. It turns out there is at least one other person as crazy as I am.

Most people who find out that I did such a thing immediately assume that I’m some kind of math whiz, when in fact I did it precisely because I suck so bad at it. In college I took some math classes because I love science and I knew that a good mathematical base could help a whole lot. I got to pre-calculus and scored a hard won D, the lowest score I’ve ever gotten in any class I’ve ever taken in my entire life*. I HAD to take it again, if for no other reason than to erase that blight from my academic record. The second time around, through much hard work and perseverence I was able to raise that D to a D+. Okay, actually it was the same D. I gave up going to math classes, but I never really gave up trying to learn the math. Over the years I’ve built up quite a collection of math books, which I revisit every once in awhile in a renewed attempt to power through my mathematical mental block. It looks like it might be time to add to that collection. The Manga Guide to Calculus sounds interesting.

And by the way I was right. It really has helped me a lot in thinking about and understanding much of science.

* In reality I’ve gotten many D’s and F’s in my academic career. The difference here was that I was actually trying, where all the other bad scores were classes that I didn’t give a damn about.

It’s Like Genesis, but Interesting!

For those of us who find it difficult to maintain the level of interest necessary to complete a single book of the bible, let alone The Book, R. Crumbs latest work may come in real handy. He recently released “The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb“. I got my copy as soon as I possibly could (mostly because I love the work of R. Crumb in general), and I’m actually enjoying reading the bible for once as a result. Of course, it’s only the first book, but it’s more than I’ve otherwise been able to stomach until now.

R. Crumb is considered somewhat depraved by many people, and apparently some fans are kind of disappointed that he simply illustrated it without any extra commentary or attempt at comedy. I’m of the opinion that the book itself is plenty depraved and didn’t need any extra commentary. As for comedy, I think simply knowing that some people actually take it literally is hilarious enough (read it and think “Someone thinks this is literally true” without laughing…it’s virtually impossible).

Ig Nobel Prizes 2009

The Ig Nobel prizes for 2009 have been awarded! My favorites this year are:

PEACE PRIZE

Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

Sounds somewhat silly at first, but when you really stop to think about it it’s not as easy a question to answer as you might initially think. Not having actually read the paper itself, here are my first thoughts. An empty bottle is probably more likely to break and cause lacerations, which may be numerous, but probably not terribly deep. A full bottle is more likely to cause blunt trauma if it doesn’t break, which may or may not be better than lots of small cuts. But then perhaps if it does break the alcohol will act as an antiseptic? Maybe I’ll actually read the paper and see what their conclusions are.

PHYSICS PRIZE

Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over.

My smart ass answer: because God some intelligent dude didn’t want them to. Seriously, though, this highlights one aspect of a common problem in the design of the human body. Of course we evolved from quadrupedal ancestors, and natural selection has not yet fully compensated for the transition to bipedalism. As such we suffer from many ailments that could be ameliorated by a slightly more efficient bipedal design. This study in particular seems to be looking at some of the changes wrought by NS that have helped us cope up to now.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE

Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

Hmm…breathe in a poisonous, potentially deadly gas, or breathe through an apparatus that has been steeped in booby sweat. Maybe some guys like that idea, but for me it would be a tough choice. But then, it would kind of necessitate the removal of said brassiere, so maybe it’d be worth it either way. (forgive my misogyny, but mmmmmm…boobies)

Of course, these are only my 3 favorites, and there are many others that are definitely worth looking at. By all means visit their site found here (or here at Wikipedia for a slightly easier read) and check out the winners for this year as well as the past winners. There have been some truly great winners in times past, and I don’t doubt that will continue well into the future.

Blizzards Cataclysm

Someone noticed a few months ago that Blizzard had registered the domain name Cataclysm.com. Since then, there has been a whole lot of speculation about what exactly they were going to do with the name. These were some of the more popular options (in no particular order):

  1. A new game built from the ground up called Cataclysm.
  2. A WoW expansion called Cataclysm.
  3. A simple mind-fuck designed to watch the fan base squirm as they try and figure out what the hell is going on.

Well, at BlizzCon, they made it official. And the winner is…

WoW Cataclysm!!!

I really need to get my Rogue up to level 80 to be ready for the new expansion. In case you’re wondering what it’ll look like, here’s the official trailer (well…kind of…)