Friday, February 28, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #92: No, Your Microwave Isn’t Trying to Kill You

Would you believe that all this time I’ve just been going about my business, using my microwave, and not getting sick or dying from it? It turns out that something like half the Internet believes that microwaves are absolute deathtraps. I bet you have no idea where I’m going with this.

Seriously, though, you wouldn’t believe the crap some people have come up with.

Let’s start with the food itself. I’m sure at some point in my many travels I’ve heard that microwaved food is bad for me. IT’S ACTUAL POISON, YOU GUYS. Apparently, when you eat microwaved food regularly over a long period of time, it – say it with me now, kids – “shorts out” your brain. From what I hear, it either depolarizes or de-magnetizes your brain tissue, because brains work like that I guess? Also, which one is it?

Psych! It’s neither, you dumbass. There is absolutely no evidence of this. I mean, secret “research” that you can’t look up because They won’t it see the light of day doesn’t really count as evidence, sorry to burst your bubble.

I'll wait while you get your headgear.
Image credit: Wes Washington

Speaking of secret studies that you can’t look up, the belief that microwave ovens fill your dinner up with carcinogens and toxins goes back to the so-called “research” of one Hans Hertel, a Swiss “researcher” who claims to have performed his own study on the effects of eating nothing but microwaved food. The so-called study consisted of Hertel, his friend Bernard Blanc, and six other people who locked themselves in a hotel room in the name of non-scientific, non-controlled experimentation. The thing about research, is that in general, you need to have some proof that you’ve done it. Also, it’s usually considered preferable if other researchers can duplicate your methods and get the same results. Neither of these things applies to Hertel’s “research.”

The “research” in question didn’t get funding, so the “researchers” paid for it out of their own pockets. Following the experiment, a Swiss industry association took them to court, where they received gag order. Though the gag order was later lifted by a European court, for freedom of speech reasons, the “researchers” nevertheless found themselves unemployed. It’s worth noting that Blanc later recanted his role in the “research” and distanced himself from the findings.

No, microwaves don’t give you cancer. I guess it does kind of makes sense to assume that something that cooks with “radiation” would be, you know, radioactive. It’s not.

Microwaves cook using non-ionizing radiation, which is not powerful enough to render other things radioactive. Intense doses of microwave radiation agitate polarized molecules in food (water, I’m talking about water), causing them to rotate, which creates the friction that heats the food. You’re not going to suffer radiation poisoning or get cancer from your microwave, even if it is leaking. If your microwave is leaking, it might burn you, but it’s not going to give you cancer.

You know what does give you cancer? Eating lots of meat – specifically grilled or fried meat. Exposing meats to the high temperatures required for cooking stimulates the formation of hydrocyclic amines, or HCAs, which have been proven by actual, no-need-for-quotes research to cause multiple kinds of cancer in lab animals.

Cooking your food in the microwave eliminates most precursors for HCA formation, and lowers these compounds’ mutagenic activity by as much as 95 percent. That’s right – cooking your food in the microwave will give you less cancer.

Don't worry, the fossil fuels industry has a plan in place to make up for that.

But doesn’t microwaving your food destroy its nutritional value? Wrong again! While it’s true that heating your food degrades its nutritional value to some extent, there’s not much difference nutritionally between food prepared in a microwave and food prepared by other methods.

In case you’re getting disappointed that your microwave isn’t dangerous enough, it is possible to “superheat” tap water and other liquids in the microwave, causing it to erupt and burn the shit out of you when you try to take it out. So, you know, watch out for that.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #91: The Winter Olympics That Might Have Been

The Winter Olympics are upon us, a fact about which I would give zero fucks even if they weren’t being held in the frozen wasteland of anti-gay. Well, okay, maybe like half a fuck, if I had the time.

If some of these sports were in the Olympics, I might watch (but probably not). These are the sports that are just too awesome for the Winter Olympics.

Exhibit A

What could be more fun than being hauled along on skis by a horse, team of dogs, snowmobile or motorcycle? How about just skiing? No? If you’ve always loved waterskiing but wished it included harder falls, than skijoring is for you.


Image credit: Kaila Angello

Skijoring, which comes from the Norwegian for “ski driving,” probably evolved from earlier means of travel in cold Scandinavian climates. You can use any kind of dog for skijoring, as long as it likes pulling you and it’s willing to listen to your commands, since you’ll have no other way to control it. It’s said to be easy to train dogs to pull you around on skis (because dogs are suckers like that); the real difficulty lies in training the dogs not to stop and sniff the butts of the other skijoring dogs, the results of which could be what Wikipedia describes as “problematic” if you’re traveling at speed.

The winter pentathlon was an event at just one Winter Games, in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1948, a year during which the athletes of the world were keen to combine cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sharpshooting, horseback riding and fencing. Sweden won. All the medals.

Ski ballet, a former Olympic sport now sadly defunct, combined elements of ballet – jumping, flipping, rolling, spinning, and like waving your arms and legs and stuff – with elements of downhill skiing, namely, skiing downhill. Notable athletes include Suzy Chaffee, an Olympic ski racer who pioneered the sport in the 1970s; Lane Spina, who won the silver medal for ski ballet in the 1988 Calgary Olympics and a bronze in the 1992 Albertville Olympics.

The first winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix (shout!) included an event known as “military patrol,” a precursor to the biathlon, which included rifle shooting (there’s always rifle shooting), cross-country skiing and ski mountaineering. It involved four-person teams who skied and climed a total of 15.5 miles (25 km) for men and 9.3 miles (15 km) for women, with total ascents of 1,650 to 4,000 ft (500 to 1,200 meters) for the men and 980 to 2,300 ft (300 to 700 meters) for the women. Though it appeared two more times as a demonstration sport, the military patrol was never included as a competitive event again, because it only seems like a good idea if you live in Chamonix.

Ice stock sport, aka Bavarian Curling, is a sport in which competitors slide “ice stocks” across an icy surface in order to hit a target. It’s like curl-bowling – curowling.

Curling horseshoes -- corseshoes.

Image credit: Skandehora

I googled a video in which one German dude just stands around nonchalantly while another German dude chucks these things across the ice in his general direction. I don’t know, guys, it doesn’t seem safe.


From 1900 to 1920, tug of war was an event at the Summer Olympics. Nations were allowed to enter multiple teams, and could therefore win multiple medals for the event.

Scandal rocked the 1904 Summer Olympics when it was discovered that the gold-winning American squad, ostensibly made up of members of the Milwaukee Athletic Club, was actually from Chicago. Scandal rocked the 1908 Summer Olympics when the Americans complained about the British wearing cleated police boots for extra traction. The Americans ended up storming off, leaving the British to win all of the medals.

I didn't know you could rage-quit the Olympics.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The UnFriending Lately Has Been Bounteous Indeed

Okay, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s made this observation, but this week has been THE BEST in terms of figuring out who you really need to unfriend from Facebook immediately and dis-invite from the family reunion. Between the multilingual Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad, the open letter from Dylan Farrow, and the tragic untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, may he rest in peace, it’s been the perfect storm of social media dumbfuckery.

All we need to make it complete is a disease outbreak among some unvaccinated children, KNOCK ON WOOD.

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl because I had whole lot of not watching the Super Bowl to get done that day and what do you know, it took me the whole day to get around to it all. So I had to watch the Coca-Cola ad on YouTube like some kind of animal, which I’ll admit I only did when I decided to write this blog post, because as soon as I saw people all-capsing in my News Feed about how they’re NEVER BUYING COKE AGAIN and YOUR IN AMERICAN SPEAK INGLSIH (only with worse spelling) I didn’t need to watch it – I knew exactly what it was about. But I watched it anyway in the spirit of 100% pure journalism.

I’m sure these peoples' Coke-products boycotts will last exactly as long as it takes them to go out to some awful American chain restaurant that doesn’t serve RC Cola (because Pepsi products are for the gays, and I’ll have you know that I googled “Pepsi products are for the gays” to find that link, too), assuming they even know what RC Cola is. Their racist asses can go right on ahead and boycott that shit until they're blue in the face. Coca Cola sells a lot of soda to a lot of people in other countries, and I should know -- I’ve been to other countries and I’ve seen it.

This Indian kid probably speaks better English than you do, but if she didn't, THAT WOULD BE OKAY, TOO.

Image credit: ruffin_ready

Also this week (actually this happened first, sorry, I must be going in alphabetical order), Dylan Farrow broke her silence of 20 years to speak out about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her adopted father, Woody Allen. And everyone freaked out – not because OMFG THAT POOR WOMAN, but because OH NOEZ WHAT ABOUT THE ART.

If you’re going to suggest that sometimes children lie about having been sexually abused, like if that's going to be your go-to response here, please stop and ask yourself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?” The shitstorm that this has caused should be proof enough that there is nothing to gain, except a whopping heap of stigma, from making something like this up. Yes, I know Allen denies it. OF COURSE HE DENIES IT. For fuck’s sake. When you accuse someone of lying about sexual abuse, the only person who looks bad is you, because only an asshole does a thing like that. I would think this is pretty basic stuff, but “Don’t shoot people” is also basic stuff, and GUESS WHAT.

It's time for a photo so here's some kitties.

And that brings us to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you don’t have any experience with or knowledge of addiction, I guess I can see why you’d fall all over yourself to be the first of your friends to sign on to Facebook and let the rest of your friends know that NO LOSS GUYS, JUST ANOTHER DUMB JUNKIE and STUPID ADDICT, HAD IT COMIN, ALL THOSE IDIOTS CARE ABOUT IS DOPE.

Let me just go ahead and point out that addiction does not indicate a character flaw or a lack of intelligence. It’s a chronic illness and it’s about as difficult to control as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, obesity or any other disease that you wouldn’t blame someone for having, except for you probably would blame someone for having obesity because you’re an asshat like that.

Here's another fucking kitten, you're welcome.