Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A few short items today

  • New Scientist tells us of a report that lethal injection protocols are unreliable. We've known that for some time, but now some researchers have studied it and seem to have confirmed it. If this makes more states stop executions, that's good. But we shouldn't stop killing people because our execution methods don't work well. We should stop because our justice system doesn't work well, and because it's wrong.
  • The US Department of Veterans' Affairs has decided to allow a Wiccan symbol on the headstones of dead soldiers. Of course they should.
    The group attributed the delay to religious discrimination. Many Americans do not consider Wicca a religion, or hold the mistaken belief that Wiccans are devil worshipers.
    How do we draw our lines, and why? Wicca isn't any less sensible than any other belief system. And even if they were “devil worshippers”, why should that be any different?
  • In what is surely the best news to come along in quite some time, it seems that “eating dark chocolate may be almost as effective at lowering blood pressure as taking the most common antihypertensive drugs,” according to a review of studies:
    Four of the five studies on chocolate found reduced blood pressure after eating, but none of the tea studies showed significant benefit. The magnitude of the effect of eating three and a half ounces of dark chocolate a day was clinically significant, comparable to that of beta-blockers like atenolol, known by the brand name Tenormin, or propranolol, known as Inderal.
    They note that “results may not apply to habitual use”, and that it has to be dark chocolate, because “milk chocolate is not effective.”
  • Just a photo:
    Sign for 'Golden Gragon' car service
  • OK, just another photo:
    Magnolia tree in bloom
Happy spring. Excuse me while I have a piece of dark-chocolate Easter bunny.


Maggie said...

I'm psyched about the chocolate!!

If you google "gragon" you find references to "gragon fly" and "gragon swords," "gragon ball z." Is there no distinction between the "g" and "d" sounds in Chinese?

I used to have a student working for me who was from Japan. He would ask me if I was saying an "l" or an "r" if I used a word he didn't know because he couldn't hear the difference. (And I can't say the Japanese "r" syllables properly -- they're a combination or our "l" and "r" sounds.)

Barry Leiba said...

I thought it was the "g" and "k" sounds that were similar in Chinese (and "b/p", as well as the "l/r" you mention). That's why you see "kung pao chicken" and "gung bao chicken" on Chinese menus.

(Of course, you also see things like "bean crud", and one that was on the specials list recently at my local Chinese restaurant, "cripy shrimp with garlis".)

The Ridger, FCD said...

Absolutely it shouldn't matter if they were devil worshippers. You can't use one religion's definition to condemn another without priveleging the first.

Maggie said...

Maybe there are different sounds in Cantonese and Mandarin. I really have no idea! A faculty member from China once was explaining to me how "easy" the Chinese language is, but I don't think so! It's very different from Western languages. The voice rising or falling at the end of a word changes the meaning of a word, and according to her, there is no verb tense.