Brief Update

Things at work are calming down. Our office is preparing for close-out and many people were laid off at the end of this week. It is very stressful to tell people that Saturday is their last day, so I’m not feeling so great right now.  Additionally, I’m accepting a demotion in order to work a little while longer.  Things should be better next week, but I’ll be stressed as my job comes to a close in 2-3 weeks too.

Strike is over!

PZ’s strike at Pharyngula is over, and not a moment too soon. I need my Pharyngula and Endless Thread. Anyway, I’ll still be posting here, but as I said yesterday, don’t expect too much this weekend because of my work schedule.

Erratic Posting for the Next Few Days

I’m going to try to keep posting here regularly, but expect me to be rather erratic for the next few days.  We have been authorized for massive overtime until Monday and I’ll be working right around 40 hours between now and then.  After that I have one day off and then I’ll be working seven days in a row.  This means more money in my pocket (yay!), but unfortunately we have overtime because we have a fuckload of work to get done, so I won’t even be able to compose posts during down time at work.

There are a few posts circulating through my head right now.  I hope to organize them into something coherent and be regularly updating this site after our overtime expires.

On the good news front, I hear that Seed is being responsive to PZ’s demands over at ScienceBlogs, so we may soon have Pharyngula back.  That doesn’t mean I will stop posting here.  I started this blog with the intention of actually putting some of the things I think about out there, so I’m going to do it.

Soda, Pop, and Coke

While surfing the internet for something to read while PZ is on strike, I found this map

the vast number of people referring to "Coke" as "pop" is as disturbing as it is unholy!

created by Matthew Campbell and Prof. Greg Plumb to be absolutely fascinating.  It’s a color-coded breakdown of respondents’ answer to the question:

“What generic word do you use to describe carbonated soft drinks? (Note that these could be of any brand or type, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-Up, etc. We are concerned with the overall word, not a specific brand.)”

The variation in the distribution of pop, soda, coke and other terms used to refer to carbonated soft drinks (that’s cokes FYI) is a well documented phenomena in American English.  However, I’ve never seen a map that broke the information down to a county level before.  It’s a fascinating representation of the data.  Counties where a majority report using the term “coke” to refer to any carbonated soft drink are in red.  This pretty much covers the Deep South from Texas to South Carolina and includes most of Arkansas and Tennessee.  North of the “coke line” in the Midwest, pop is used by a majority of respondents (counties that are blue) except in the Northeast, Virginia, North Carolina, California, and, interestingly, the area centered on St. Louis, Missouri where soda is the prefered word.  That blotch of yellowish brown right in between pop and coke zones looks rather out-of-place.  A very high proportion of respondents in this area use soda for carbonated soft drinks, a concentration of soda drinkers rivaled only by the Northeast.  My big question is why do we have this anomalous zone of soda amidst a sea of pop and coke?  Of course, that’s a question for a linguist to answer.  I just thought this map was pretty cool.

More on the data collection that produced this map can be found here.  Note, it’s not a scientific survey, and the results the researchers got for “other” are pretty funny.

PZ Myers is on strike.

This is terribly disheartening. Following close on the heels of several defections from ScienceBlogs, PZ Myers has gone on strike. I’m not linking to the post itself because that would defeat the purpose of the strike, but this is a very bad sign for ScienceBlogs and Seed Media Group. ScienceBlogs is a great resource with blogs on all sorts of topics ranging from physics to paleontology to science-based medicine. Pharyngula brings in roughly 40% of the traffic to the site, so without him the whole network may go under. SMG doesn’t seem to get this. Their entire approach to the bloggers that provide the content driving all of those page views is one of neglect. If you neglect those who work for you long enough, they’ll leave. Hell, SMG has apparently been behind in even paying the bloggers their share of the ad revenue.

Now, I’ve been reading Pharyngula for five or six years and it, along with Panda’s Thumb, introduced me to the idea that blogs could have interesting science content and be fun.  Additionally, it was the community at Pharyngula that enabled me to feel comfortable calling myself an atheist.  That’s worth more than words can say.  Being at peace with your worldview (well, most of the time) is a singularly valuable state of mind.  So, I’ll  be awaiting news of the state of PZ’s strike, and I will be following PZ where ever he goes.  After all, we Pharyngulites are just a bunch of sycophants in need of an echo chamber. :)

This whole blogging thing.

Living is a small town in the Midwest has its good and bad points.  Of the bad points, the worst for me is the freaking religious right.  I’m constantly surrounded by people who think that their worldview should be privileged over others.  As a result, I feel infuriated much of the time, and that is why I started this blog today.  Obviously this is a short introductory post with virtually no content, but I hope to have more in the next few days.  Thanks for checking me out.