Monthly Archives: August 2012

Kinesio tape


If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you may have noticed that athletes are covering themselves with something called “kinesio tape.” It’s brightly-colored strips of elastic tape that were developed in Japan by acupuncturists. As you might expect, it does nothing.

Yes, I know I’m blowing your mind here, but putting tape on your skin does not increase muscular strength, speed healing, decrease the sensation of pain, or increase range of motion. There have been dozens of clinical studies since this tape came out in the 1980s, and none of them have shown medium- or long-term benefits in any of these applications. (Small, short-term benefits are ascribed to the placebo effect.)

If you’ve been selected to represent your country in a worldwide athletic event, maybe that little bit of placebo will help your mindset and get you to lift that last kilogram or make it across the finish line faster. But if you’re a regular human being, covering your stupid ankle up with bright-blue Japanese mental-tape before you walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes isn’t going to do anything for you.

And beside that, now that you know kinesio tape doesn’t work, you won’t get a placebo effect from using it. Sorry!

College textbooks


College textbooks may be in the top-ten of the worst things for sale, ever. It’s not bad enough that the universe makes you feel worthless if you don’t get a degree, and then laughs at you when you want a job. No, along the four- or five-year journey to your worthless diploma, they make you buy dozens of textbooks.

The future has brought slight reprieve to the textbook problem – you can buy them online for cheap, get free shipping, and resell them for more than the snotty guy at the campus bookstore wants to give you when the class is over. But the fundamental issue remains that introductory calculus, or chemistry, or whatever, has not changed in at least twenty years. The only difference is the word problems have changed.

Skrillex buys an ice cream cone whose height is h and radius r, topped with a sphere of ice cream with radius 1.1r. His friend Deadmau5 texts him on an iPhone 4, and while he texts back, the ice cream melts and runs into the cone. The cone has a leak which allows the melted ice cream to run out the bottom at rate 0.031r3 per minute (t). Express the surface area of the cone filled with melted ice cream as a function of time. Do not use rage faces in your solution.

Chia seeds


The “superfood” for 2012 seems to be Chia, which are seeds from the Chia plant, related to mint. I’ll start off by pointing out that seeds are fine for you and the nutritional profile of Chia is almost exactly the same as flaxseed. Fiber, fat, and a little protein.

Of course, the catch with any exotic food is that consumers don’t know what it’s worth, and they’ve never seen it, so manufacturers can charge a ton for a weird ingredient they get from third-world farmers for almost nothing. Remember goji berries? And acai? And mangosteen? And, and, and? These products were all cheap commodities before marketing teams scooped them up and presented them to us on the shelves of Whole Foods along with a long list of spurious health claims.

Chia seeds are technically full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you. The catch is that the O-3 fatty acid in chia is alpha-linolenic acid, just as in flax seeds. This isn’t used directly by the body, but converted to EPA and DHA, the fatty acids we actually need and use. Only a small fraction (around 10%) is actually converted, as a matter of fact (here’s an abstract on PubMed for the three readers who care and are still reading.) So chia is actually a poor source of omega-3 fatty acids, contrary to labeling.

You can soak chia seeds in water and drink the resulting concoction, which is also true of just about any food. You can drop most things down in a drinking glass and drink the sludge, but for fuck’s sake, why?

It’s also worth noting that the companies selling chia try to imbue the seeds with the “secrets of the ancients” mystique. Native Americans would eat chia, they say! They would bring a big bag of chia and just eat the chia when they went on trips! That’s because they didn’t have Lunchables, dipshits.

HTML for the WWW


My friends who make websites always make fun of me for using basic HTML and barely being able to code in PHP and Perl. But would they sell this HTML 3.2 book if that stuff wasn’t still pretty good to use for the WWW?

Okay, I exaggerated, I’m not able to use Perl at all.

Also I don’t have any friends, it’s more of a “what if I did” thing.

Not Really A Prank


I don’t think “prank” really adequately describes a product that’s being manufactured and sold with the intent of adulterating someone’s food or drink to make them have uncontrollable, dehydrating diarrhea.

And I’m not sure that the product description stating “Warning: not to be used on others without their consent” really gets them out of any liability considering it’s titled “Prank & Revenge Evacuator Super Laxative.” That’s like selling someone a hammer, and in small print on the handle, it says “Warning: Not to be used for hammering.”

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