November 9th, 2006


This brought tears to my eyes.

A new recipe for "nanorust" could give developing nations a cheap tool for removing arsenic from drinking water.

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Today's lecture was about this.  It's horrible.  It's a situation of pick your poison.  The surface pond water is gross, filled with bacteria.  When they switched to ground water (wells), infant mortality was reduced by 500%.  But now those healthy babies are doomed toan early grave.  125 million people are drinking aresenic contaminated waters.  They get black bubbly lesions all over their bodies and die of horrible cancers.

It's a difficult problem too. The arsenic isn't very predicatble.  You might have deadly 400 ppb levels, while your neighbour has drinkable <10ppb levels.  The sediments have normal 1-15 ppm levels, lower by a factor of 10-100 than the yukon or baffin island sediments. 

To top it off, these people are dirt poor.  Drilling operations for instance, cost 17 cents a foot, while here the same function (better equipment) is $35 a foot.

Be grateful for clean water.


Don't say "bitch", say "asshole"!

Ganked from i_chaos_bringer

This is a reposting of a very worthy meme of particle-man6

Don't say "bitch", say "asshole"!

(I both grant permission and greatly encourage this idea to be spread around, but would appreciate it if you would attach my username to it somewhere).

I teach philosophy and have noticed that my female students are often reluctant to speak up (particularly if they are immigrants from Asia or Africa or South America).

I came up with the not too original theory that the reason this was so is that women have been socialized not to speak up. When they do speak up, they are seen as (and called) "bitches". In fact, "bitch" is the default term for "woman doing something I don't like".

I have a problem with that word. It is not the negativity. I can accept that we need some negative words to call each others, even if they are harsh. It is the gender-politics at play. Think about the differences between a woman being called a bitch "too aggressive, mean, etc." and a man being called a bitch "passive, weak, etc." (think of prison-bitch for another example of passivity, particularly in males - and didn't "prison-bitch" used to mean "someone treated as the woman"?). But on closer examination, maybe the two connotations are not that far apart. If women are socialized to be passive, shut away in a glass cabinet to occasionally be taken out for show, but not to speak up, then what "bitch" is saying is "You are being too assertive/aggressive, you need to get back in that glass cabinet and be a passive doll again". Thus "bitch" is a dehumanizing word - it is an attempt to change someone from a subject to a mere object.

Thus I want to start a campaign. We already have changed our gendered language in some ways. "Chairman" became "Chair", "Policeman" became "Police Officer", etc. I think that we should try to change our swear words too. Thus I want to get people, when they hear the word "bitch", to respond "Don't say 'bitch', say 'asshole'!"

"Asshole" carries negative connotations, but it doesn't have the same gender-oppression associated with it. I take "asshole" to be able to mean a variety of things, including "selfish person" or "stupid person", and think that "asshole" can be stretched to cover the useful connotations of "bitch" without carrying over those that are gender-oppressing.

So I would like to see if this meme can catch on: "Don't say 'bitch', say 'asshole'".

Consider it my small contribution to equality.

p.s. Needless to say, "asshole" could substitute for other gender-oppressing words, including "cunt", for similar reasons. While I think that "cunt" is (in my opinion) more harmful than "bitch", it is also less commonly used, so I have focused on "bitch" as the word to watch out for.
p.p.s. I believe that "asshole" could also act as a substitute for various dehumanizing racial epiphets. In fact, "Don't say 'X', say 'asshole'" may be a useful generic expression to try to replace prejudicial swear words.

(no subject)

Can you travel the world with a dog?
I see myself as a single girl, with a dog to keep me company, backpacking across Canada, through the states, and around the globe.  I'm too chicken and not stupid enough to go complely alone.  I at least want a  dog.
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