Category Archives: science

I’m not broken. It’s SCIENCE.

I read this article the other day, and it was like a light totally went on in my head.


OK, so I don’t date. I have, in the past. Sure I have. Sometimes that went better than other times. Sometimes it wasn’t painful and sometimes it was like Elaine’s favorite mode of evaluating badness and could be measured in Hindenburgs.

Never, however, did it go well. Or was it a repeated event. I’m…um…kind of the worst at dating. That’s really all I have to say about that. You’d think I’d have all these uproarious stories but mostly they range from sad to things that made numerous therapists say “um. That’s not…I don’t know what to say about that” so I don’t go into details. I promise you that you don’t want me to.

HOWEVER! I am very good at falling in love with people. If awards were given out for this? I would win them ALL. Having it be requited, well, no, those awards would not be gracing my trophy case. (SIDE NOTE: no. No, of course I don’t have a trophy case, what would I put in it, my spelling bee awards from junior high? I don’t even know where those ARE. FINE THEY’RE AT MY PARENTS’ HOUSE ARE YOU HAPPY?)  Sometimes it’s a quick thing and sometimes it takes forever but all of a sudden BAM I fall crazy in love with someone and then I’m a stupid giddy schoolgirl and eventually I end up getting my heart broken or I have to tough-love myself and say, “AMY. You stop this RIGHT NOW. This person IS NOT INTERESTED.”

OK, so anyway. I don’t date after the failed internet-dating experiment of 2005 (I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT) and I try REALLY REALLY HARD not to fall in love with people who aren’t interested (and honestly, if I fall in love with them, they’re not going to be in love with me, because I can pick ’em. Ooh, can I pick ’em. I have a RADAR for the people who aren’t going to fall in love with me. They’re the ones I want, apparently. You know that song about “I love a parade?” That’s me, only with a CHALLENGE. I love a challege!) I try hard. It doesn’t always work but I try really hard.

But then I found this article and I realized WHY I am broken and choose these people, even though they’re honestly kind of jerks most of the time. And I’m really quite intelligent otherwise.


Here’s the thing that all of these men have in common: they ALL do this same thing. So apparently I have a type.

They act TOTALLY INTO ME and then they act ALL COLD AND WEIRD and then they act TOTALLY INTO ME AGAIN and this goes back and forth and back and forth and I have no idea what to make of it and it’s like a person watching a tennis match until they get all dizzy and fall over. And then get hit by a bus.

You’d THINK that would make someone say, “Hey, this person I’ve hitched my wagon to, they’re an asshole, time to move on,” but NOPE. Not me! I sit around waiting for the crumbs of acknowledgement.

So I THOUGHT it was because I was broken and also quite stupid, until I read that article I linked to above. NOT BROKEN. SCIENCE!!!

It’s apparently the “allure of unpredictable romantic partners.” That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Like a romantic comedy. Possibly starring Ewan McGregor. I’d watch that. Probably while crying.

So the sciency types did this test where they gave subjects fruit juice and water and scanned their brains while doing it. The subjects’ brains lit up like a Christmas tree with dopamine when the fruit juice/water rewards came at unexpected intervals, while the brains just kind of yawned and played another hand of solitaire when the rewards came at predictable 10-second intervals.

Apparently, our brains, going back to CAVEMAN TIMES, are programmed to signal us to pay attention when something unexpected happens. They signal us by releasing dopamine. Dopamine, in case you’re not obsessed with weird-ass shit like I am, is your pleasure chemical. Among many other things, it signals a feeling of bliss. It’s one of the chemicals your body’s stewing in when you’re all stupid-giddy in love.

So being with a partner who’s unpredictable about his/her affection is like being inconsistently given fruit juice – it fires off your dopamine like a shootout at the OK Corral. The smart, thinky part of your brain might be all “THIS IS THE WORST SUCK!” but your animal brain is all “Ahhhhh that’s the stuff! SIGNAL! SIGNAL!” and is filling your brain with DRUGS. Drugs that make you feel PLEASURE.

Your brain is a dark alley on the bad side of town filled with drug pushers. Didn’t your mom teach you to stay away from those places? Tsk.

So our smart brains say “this person is bad news!” and our drugged-up brain lolling around in an opium den is all “NO NO GIMME MORE” so you’re torn and according to science you keep going back to the person, but you don’t even KNOW you’re doing this shit, because it’s happening WAY DEEP DOWN IN YOUR PSYCHE.

This is super-distressing, science.

I totally knew I was doing this, I just didn’t know there was a reason. Other than the brokenness, of course.

This reminds me of the study with the rats and the uncertain results. Our beloved Andreas attempted mightily to find me a link to this and could not, but here, I’ll let him tell you about it, he’s better than a link anyway:

(Ignore where it looks like I’ve repeated the same thing three times, that’s just because he’s responding to my tweet three times. I promise I don’t say the same thing over and over. Well, I *do*, just not that obnoxiously. MOST of the time, anyway.)

So I remember reading about this study, probably in one of my psych classes in grad school. There were these rats. And the rats were in a cage with a lever. The lever could distribute food whenever they pressed it, or the lever could be dicked with so it gave food out at unpredictable intervals.

As Andreas said, the rats that were in the cage where they knew the outcome, they’d stop on by the lever if they wanted a nosh.

The rats in the unpredictable cage would beat their little paws bloody against that lever, hoping against hope that this time, this press, this would be the one. The one that would bring the manna down from the heavens. Because it happened once. IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN.

(I think this is probably the same mentality that leads people to gamble until they lose their homes.)

I’m the rat. I’m the beating-my-paw-bloody-against-the-lever rat.

BUT, according to SCIENCE, we ALL are. It’s not just me! It’s ALL of us! Because of the effing DOPAMINE!

Also, being a person with a screwed-up brain (no, seriously, that’s why they put people like me on antidepressants, because our seratonin and such are all out of whack) I can only assume my dopamine is probably all weird like the rest of my brain chemistry.

SCIENCE! Why are you screwing with me? It’s not bad enough you gave me bad skin, eyes, and frazzly hair? Now you have to make me fall in love with jerks, too? (Well, happy to say, most of that is in the past. Because as an adult, I just decided I’M NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE and refuse to fall in love at ALL. That’ll teach ’em. I just removed myself from the game. WINNER!)

Well, here’s a newsflash, people who think they can just be assholes because science backs you up and therefore you can just treat people’s hearts casually: science might be drugging us up, but our smart brains eventually get fed up.

Like addicts who have had enough, we finally reach a breaking point where we’re tired of waking up on some stranger’s porch wearing poorly-chosen clothing choices with a taste in our mouth akin to used kitty litter and we say NO MORE and we start attending AA. Or we go cold turkey. Or we just say, hit the road, Jack, no more of your stupid games, I’ll find someone who actually gives a shit ALL the time, not just when they feel like it or need something or just for the fun of it all.

Also, you might be a little bit of a psychopath. Just think about that for a minute, ok? If you’re not interested in someone, TELL THEM THAT. Don’t leave them hanging. Just tell them you’re not interested and let them move on, jerko.

BUT, that being SAID, I am just so pleased science has an explanation for why I’m a rat with a bloody paw. Thanks, science. You really came through. Now let’s talk about this unruly hair thing, science. SURELY YOU HAVE A REASON FOR THIS. I am tired of looking like a rooster.

The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!

Ever since I posted about how we can hypermetabolize with our brains, Jim has been OBSESSED with this. He keeps commenting that he’s going to hypermetabolize with his brain and then he’s going to win…um…something, I don’t know. Here, I’ll let him tell you.

I’m sorry…I can’t get behind this hypermetabolism-as-trauma thing. It sounds like superpower. And the reason the rats died is because they just. couldn’t. hack it. Now I want hypermetabolism. I will lose weight and solve complicated math problems and lift all the weights! And my skin will most likely sparkle and they’ll make a movie about me, but they’ll call me a vampire because I stay up all night and kick so much ass. And because THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!

I failed last night at hypermetabolism because I fell asleep in the middle of it, because I am an elderly. But tonight!! Ohhhhhh, tonight I will fucking SHINE!!!

He has since commented numerous times that he keeps falling asleep but SOON HE WILL HYPERMETABOLIZE. (Also, “I am an elderly” was the winner and made me giggle and giggle. Also, Jim’s only slightly more of an elderly than I am.)

Well, Jim, listen. You know I adore you. You know I do. You’re one of my favorite people that lives in my computer. You make me laugh. You are SMART and you are KIND and you are WACKY. So what I’m going to say right now is probably going to hurt a little. I’m sorry. I don’t like to hurt the people I care about. Here is a picture of an otter who also doesn’t like to hear bad news to mitigate the pain a little. I know you love otters.

Jim: I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to hypermetabolize. What with the elderly-ness and the sleeping and such.

I know. I’m sorry. I hate to break your heart. You’re so awesome, and that’s so mean of me.

However, to make things better, I decided to do some research for you. I mean, there must be some things we can do with our brains that are NOT hypermetabolizing. And there ARE. Oh, you wait. We have SO MANY BRAIN THINGS TO TALK ABOUT, Jim.

First, let’s get our brains to work for us, Jim. I mean, we carry these brains around with us and we keep them SAFE and WARM and what do they do for us? Nothing. So let’s make our brains DO something for us.

Luckily, in situations like this, we have our old friend wikiHow. wikiHow knows what’s up.

wikiHow’s going to tell us how to be TELEKINETIC, Jim! That’s GOT to be better than hypermetabolizing, right?

This article starts with SCIENCE. Well, Andreas will like it, then. It says all telekinesis is is SCIENCE. It is transferring the energy in our BODIES to the energy in things OUTSIDE of our body. Now, I don’t know what you’re going to use your telekinesis for, Jim, but I plan on using mine to either tweet or change the channels on the TV. All those little fiddly buttons! I think my brain should do this for me. I’ve got better things to do.

Next, it says choose something light to start with. So, I guess I shouldn’t choose Dumbcat, he weighs as much as a sack of potatoes. An unintelligent sack of potatoes that fell off the bookcase today when he jumped up on it. Um. Let’s see. I have a fortune from a fortune cookie over here that I’ve been meaning to tell you about because the fortune was so dumb. That’s pretty light. Let’s use that. wikiHow says to LET GO of the idea that the fortune and my brain are different because they CONTAIN THE SAME ENERGY. OK. So…all things are the same because they contain the same energy? I don’t know if that’s how science works. Andreas, is that how science works?


Then they want us to recognize and celebrate the energy flowing through our body but that seems like hippie shit. Is this article about hippie shit? I was not warned there would be hippie shit here. It says to flex all your muscles and FEEL THE BURN and also sit somewhere cold and then warm yourself up using the power of your mind. Well, kumbaya, you granola-loving flowerchild.

Hare krishna….HARE KRISHNA….damn hippies.

Next the person who wrote this article seems to have lost their mind because they start talking about how you can either push, pull or spin the item, but it’s a lot easier to pull the item, but not to levitate it (was levitating it even an option earlier? You can’t just throw in levitation like it’s just THERE) and then goes on and on and ON about calories and heat expended and such. I assume he or she is just trying to confuse us with sciencey terms. YOU DO NOT WIN. I’m still curious about this levitation thing you just popped in all willy-nilly.

This is not easy! You will bump your head on the ceiling, look out!

It then tells you to “focus your energy and direct it toward the system” but DOES NOT TELL YOU HOW TO DO IT. What the hell, wikiHow? That’s like giving someone directions on how to drive a car: “get behind the wheel and go.” Or how to bake a cake: “get some ingredients and make it.” UNHELPFUL.

It says to stop when you are tired. Well, that’s nice. Thanks for looking out for me, internets. I wish you’d told me this at the BEGINNING of the article, that’s when I got weary.

Jim! How’s your telekinesis going, good? Are you pushing pulling levitating shit all over? What? You’re not? Well, hell, this was a bust. Sorry. I have more, though, don’t you even worry.

This one’s not even weird and fake, Jim. This one is TRUE.

We can drive a CAR using our BRAINS.

Apparently, German engineers (those crafty German engineers! I assume Ken had something to do with this, I see “Germany” I immediately assume it’s Ken’s doing, I feel like he sneaks around Germany being crafty and then sneaking out before they know he was there) have rigged up a Passat so it works using the power of our BRAINS.


There is a lag, I guess, between your thought and the action of the car. But I guess if they implanted the sensors DIRECTLY into your brain, and not just in a weird headset-thingy, that lag wouldn’t happen.

Jim, what do you think? Want to get electrodes implanted in your brain so you can drive a car without using your hands? This is a very good use of our brains. And I think easier than hypermetabolization. Well, except for the brain surgery. I can’t imagine the brain surgery is all shits and giggles, you know? One time I watched a show about brain surgery and it went wrong and the patient couldn’t talk anymore. She talked all in gibberish but in her HEAD it made sense but it came out in GIBBERISH and that was how she was going to be FOREVER. I don’t know if I want car-driving brain-surgery if it makes me talk in gibberish forever, Jim. And I don’t think you should get this, either. Also, Passats aren’t even that cool of a car. Let’s not do this one, Jim. Not until they make it for convertibles or old-timey 50s cars or something cool like that.

Now let’s see what else we can do. OOH LOOK. We can BE MEAN TO CARROTS.

Apparently you can heal yourself using the power of your mind (I know people believe this, and that’s great, but I’m a doctor-advocate; give me pills and/or surgery over brain-power any day, I don’t know enough science to heal myself, good gravy) but with THIS you can PROVE the POWER of your MIND to HEAL yourself (and also carrots.)

You’re supposed to cut the tops off carrots, and also the green stuff, and put them in two dishes of water in the sun, and mark one with a PLUS SIGN and one with a MINUS SIGN and then say nice things to the plus-carrots and encourage them, and cuss out the bad carrots and send them all the bad vibes.

I guess what will happen is that the plus-carrots will grow and thrive and go to Harvard, and the minus-carrots will get negative self-esteem and probably make bad decisions and start smoking weed and have teen pregnancies.

I don’t know what I think about this, Jim. I think hypermetabolizing might be better than insulting carrots. Insulting carrots seems beneath us, somehow, don’t you agree? Those poor carrots. They didn’t do anything to deserve our scorn. Well, other than being carroty. I do so hate carrots. The other day I had a frozen meal, and it was utterly FILLED with carrots. GROSS. I didn’t eat a single one. I threw them ALL AWAY.

So what have we learned today, Jim? We have learned that we can:

  • move things with our mind, or maybe we can’t
  • drive cars with our mind using the power of brain surgery
  • insult carrots

These all seem more likely than the possibility of hypermetabolization. I hope I didn’t kill your dreams too much. I like you just that much and I hate to be all dream-crushy, I really do. After all, you are:

…and we can’t go hurting our people over here. That would be extremely poor form.

Let me know how these things go, ok? I have every faith in you and your magical brain.

Just stop insulting those carrots. THEY DID NOTHING WRONG.

The sex part always gets in the way.

Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I’m saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No, you pretty much want to nail ’em too.
Sally: What if they don’t want to have sex with you?
Harry: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry: Guess not.

You all recognize this, right? Good. It’s flawed, because it’s from a movie where the two WEREN’T friends – well, not ultimately, anyway, they ended up being in love with each other, so, more than friends – but it’s an interesting argument. One that’s been going on for a very long time.

Can women and men be friends? Can they really? Or, as Harry thinks, is it completely out of the realm of possibility?

Well, according to Scientific American, the answer is…Harry was right. Men and women cannot be friends. Not just friends, anyway.

HIGH FIVE! One of these people wants to epuhemize with the other.

Shit. This is terrible news. What am I going to tell…well, hell. All my male friends. Who actually outnumber my female friends, because, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been better with male friends than female ones. Not because I want to get in their pants (or, as far as I know, they want to get into mine), but because, due to deep and abiding childhood trauma, I have a lot of trouble trusting women. I’m not saying I don’t have SOME female friends. I do, and the ones I have, I love a great deal. I’m just saying that childhood issues take a long time to resolve, or possibly never get resolved, and what you’re comfortable with is what you’re comfortable with.

My best friend is male. We’ve known each other for…how long, now, BFF, fifteen years this year, right? Fifteen years in August? Damn, we didn’t even celebrate that. SORRY BFF! Fifteen years is…what…crystal? Huh. Did you need me to send you some crystal, BFF? I mean, I could. But I don’t know that you’d want it. I don’t think you’re sitting around sippin’ from crystal wineglasses. Or are you? I haven’t seen you in YEARS. (BFF, I hate that I haven’t seen you in years.) Maybe you’re all fancy now, I don’t know. (Please don’t be all fancy, what would we have in common?)

Here, BFF, light of my life, I found you this crystal skull. HAPPY 15 YEARS I LOVE YOU!!!

But Scientific American says we can’t be friends. And, why? Why can’t we be friends?

Because of science.

Researchers (where? I don’t know. The link is broken. That’s suspect. Also, I find it strange I can’t find this on the Scientific American site, but only on Yahoo and mentioned here and there on the interwebs. Is my Google broken, or is this all one big scam?) brought 88 pairs of same-sex undergraduate opposite-sex friendship pairs into the lab. They told them they couldn’t share the results with each other once they left, and they interviewed them separately, so as to minimize the potential bias.

What’d they ask them?

Sounds like they asked them, “So…I know you say this chick/fella’s just your friend, but you really want to bone him/her, right?”

The results were:

  • Men seemed to want to have sex with their female friends (so, Harry was right)
  • Yet, women seemed much less likely to want to have sex with their male friends
  • Men seemed to think their female friends were attracted to them, even when they weren’t
  • Women had NO IDEA their male friends wanted to sneakyfuck them
  • Men were willing to go after female friends whether or not they were in a relationship; women were more respectful of their male friends who were in relationships

This bothers me. Let me tell you why.

Although the university wasn’t named (SHADY) they said these people were undergraduates. So, using what we know (college students and undergraduates) let’s assume some things. They are probably ages 18-22, and they have probably known each other from 1-4 years.

Now, I don’t know how many of you went to college, I’m going to guess probably quite a few of you. What’s the first thing I think of when I think of college?


Yeah, these are trustworthy scientific study participants. One of these people is wearing no shirt, but also a KNAPSACK.

(I’m exaggerating, it’s not the FIRST thing, but it’s one of them. At  least one of the top five.)

These are 18-22 year olds who are extendedly away from home for the first time in a living situation with OTHER 18-22 year olds and sex is EVERYWHERE and NO ONE CARES IF YOU ARE HAVING IT. Of COURSE they want to screw their friends. OF COURSE THEY DO. Also, how good of friends can they be if they’ve only known each other for a brief period of time, and at that age? At that age, you have goldfish-memory.

I’d like this study done properly, with people who have been friends for longer and who are not hormone-riddled. Well, we’re all hormone-riddled our whole lives long, but you know what I mean. Not AS hormone-soaked. People in their, say, mid-to-late 20s, early 30s, who have been friends with people of the opposite sex for 5 years or more. Would the results be the same, I wonder?

This study just makes people reading it say, “MEN THINK WITH THEIR DICKS” and that bothers me. I’m not saying I haven’t said that at one point or another in my life when I’ve been frustrated by the actions of the opposite sex; of course I have. I don’t know if you’ll meet a woman alive who hasn’t. I just think men are a little more complex than that, and I think it’s a disservice to them to just dismiss them out of hand as being controlled by their cocks. I mean, we as women fight CONSTANTLY not to be defined as “emotional” or “flighty” or “hysterical” or “attracting bears due to our lady-menses” or I don’t know what else the hell, right? This isn’t that much different. We’re all PEOPLE. We are complex and we have a lot more going on than our XX or XY chromosome pairings.

Har de har har. Things like this make me want to stab someone.

OK. Rant over. Sorry, I have to stick up for my guys. Guys can be frustrating, sure. But so can women. We all can. It’s one of the things about humans. We do weird, stupid nonsensical things, whether or not we have an innie or an outie downstairs, you know?

Also – ALSO – another reason it’s shitty to be all “ALL MEN THINK ABOUT IT SEX” is…well, why do we assume women don’t think about sex? Shh, top-secret news: WE DO. We TOTALLY do. I don’t know the statistic or anything, but I’d assume women think about it just as much as men do. Sex is awesome and why would you NOT think about it, male OR female? This whole thing is ridiculous.

Apparently, the study went one step further and DID interview older people – just in a weirdly skewed way. They asked opposite-sex friends to list positives and negatives of their friendship. This is written in a very confusing manner – here, I’ll let you read this:

Variables related to romantic attraction (e.g., “our relationship could lead to romantic feelings”) were five times more likely to be listed as negative aspects of the friendship than as positive ones. However, the differences between men and women appeared here as well. Males were significantly more likely than females to list romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, and this discrepancy increased as men aged—males on the younger end of the spectrum were four times more likely than females to report romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, whereas those on the older end of the spectrum were ten times more likely to do the same.

So…men think being into your friends is good, while women don’t? Hmm.

Being romantically attracted to your friends – I’m going to tell you this right now? – SUCKS. And as I’m a woman, I guess I’m in the target demographic. So maybe this is why women list this as a negative; because we’re PRACTICAL.

The movies make it seem SO FUCKING EASY. You already KNOW each other, right? So one day, you just look at each other and you realize BAM, I’ve loved this person ALL ALONG, and now I get to have sex with them AND I know how they like their pizza PLUS I know all of their bad stuff AND I STILL LIKE THEM, plus vice-versa, and then you get married and all of your friends are all “I KNEW IT! I knew it all along. Those two. AW THOSE TWO.”

Give me a fucking break, please.

Only, it doesn’t usually (barely hardly ever) end up this way. Usually, one friend crushes on the other. And the other is not interested. Then the friendship limps along all awkwardly until it dies a sad panda death.

(You all remember Ken’s post about Duckie being a sneaky fucker, right? He was also “that guy”. That sad “I’m in love with my best friend BUT I CANNOT TELL HER” guy. Here, if you didn’t read it, go read it now, you can thank me later.)

But this happens regardless of sex. This happens to men who crush on their female friends, this happens to women who crush on their male friends, and this happens (most likely) to men who fall in love with their male friends and women who fall in love with their female friends. Once someone falls in love with someone who isn’t interested, there’s a power imbalance, and the whole thing falls to shit.

(Exception to this: sometimes you can get over the crush and regain the friendship. I have a friend who was a crush-object once. I managed to get over him and we’re still friends. It was rocky going for a while there, but we’re ok now. So, sometimes you end up ok.)

Now, don’t even tell me you know someone (or are someone) who fell in love with your best friend; I know it happens, and I’m so happy it does, and yay, you. I’m so not dismissing that sometimes this happens. Of course I’m not. However, people are predictable creatures; they see one example of something, and they think, “IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME!” like with winning the lottery or whatever, and it gives everyone hope that falling in love with their best friend CAN HAPPEN TO THEM and then they get all crushed when it doesn’t. It gives people unrealistic expectations, like those movies where the nerdy girl takes off her glasses and ZOMG SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL ALL ALONG YOU GUYS!!! (Tip: if you can’t tell someone’s beautiful just because they are wearing glasses, perhaps you need to get your OWN eyes checked, because that is stupid. It’s why I was always confused by the Superman movies.)

My thoughts on this? Yes. Men and women can be friends. No, not all men want to hump us like overeager puppies. It’s stupid to think they do. I don’t care what this weird and wonky “scientific study” says. I have plenty of male friends that I’m quite sure don’t want to have sex with me. (Guys, if you do, please don’t tell me. I like being oblivious of such things.) I mean, I have some male friends I’ve known since high school. If I’ve known them that long and they’ve NEVER made any sort of overtures toward me, what, are they biding their time? That’s ridiculous. That’s a lot of time to be biding.

Scientific American, I am saddened by this. I really am. This doesn’t seem very scientific. Or overly Merkan.

ANDREAS. You are our Science Fellow. What are your thoughts on this? From a scientific point of view? Or a male point of view. Or both, that’s fine. I’d be interested in both.

Oh, and because what my parents think of something is always of import:

  • Mom thinks all of my male friends are trying to get in my pants. EVERY ONE OF THEM. And also that I’m trying to get into theirs. My mother apparently thinks everyone in the world is a sex-crazed lunatic. She says things like “I don’t know if you should talk to your male friends so much; their significant others won’t like that.” Or, “It’s a good thing those friends of yours live so far away; otherwise, they’d come over and try to have all the sex with you. THAT’S WHAT THEY DO.” And then I roll my eyes so hard I dislocate them. Can you dislocate eyes? Mom is VERY RELIGIOUS and thinks everyone’s whorey. Including (sadly) her own daughter. Who is actually kind of the opposite of whorey, to tell you the truth. Don’t you have to be having sex to be whorey? I would think so. Or is it like religion, and you can be a non-practicing whore?
  • Dad thinks the same thing, only he thinks it’s fine. And then he says, “Don’t tell your mother.” Because she would be FURIOUS at him. So, apparently, per Dad, it’s ok if I slut it up with all my male friends, as long as I don’t tell him about it because EW WE DON’T TALK ABOUT SEX AMY. When I tell him I have no interest in having sex with my male friends and I honestly think that’s kind of bullshit to assume that men and women can’t be friends without them having all the sex, he says, “Well, I saw it on the news, so it must be true.” Apparently Fox News says men and women can’t be friends? So you know it must be true, then. BOTH FAIR AND BALANCED.

So my mom thinks all men are dogs and I’m a whore and my dad thinks men and women all want to be gettin’ it on and that’s ok as long as we don’t talk about it. I don’t…are we sure I’m not adopted? Quite sure? (Is this a generational thing? No, I’m quite serious. Are there less male/female friendships in older generations because it’s just a thing that wasn’t done back in the day, maybe, and that’s why my parents are so weird about it?)

Also, this piece on The Colbert Report about this report made me giggle. DAMMIT WORDPRESS why won’t you let me embed Comedy Central videos? You are annoying me.

Harry was wrong. Except for about when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible? That part’s ok. I’m down with that, Harry. I’m totally down with that.

Using science (and Science Fellows) to our full advantage.

Hell week is OVER. Day off today! Well, day off in that I don’t have to go to work. I have a billion things to do. Laundry and grocery shopping and a project I promised to do and writing to do and talking to people that I have been sadly neglecting all last week that I want to talk and talk to and a cat who needs petting and SLEEPING SLEEPING SO MUCH SLEEPING. I’m going to do the sleeping first. Get that out of the way. The sleeping has become high-priority. I’ve gotten so sleepy I’m shaky, and I almost fell in the shower like an old person yesterday because I was not coordinated enough to both hold AND squirt the shampoo, so if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m probably going to die. What? Exaggeration? Yes, probably, you’re right. I think you have to get a LOT less sleep than I have been to actually DIE, right? Wait, I will research it. Andreas would want me to research it. It’s what sciency people do.

Well, according to this article (from Scientific American! Well, I’m Merkan. And I like to be Scientific. With a capital S) the longest anyone’s ever stayed awake is 11 days. It doesn’t really tell you about DYING from lack of sleep. It DOES tell you about a horrifying experiment they did on rats to see how long THEY could stay awake without sleep and they would continuously wake the rats up when they were about to fall asleep by threatening to drown them and the rats died after two weeks from someonthing called “whole body hypermetabolism.” Shit, Andreas, why are you never awake when I’m writing something that’s even remotely sciency? Using my math skills, it is currently…um…4:47am in the land of Finns. Sigh. That’s too early to wish you had a touch of insomnia, Andreas (I AM KIDDING I WOULD NEVER WISH THAT ON ANYONE I CARE ABOUT), so I could ask you what “whole body hypermetabolism” is. FINE I WILL SCIENCE IT MYSELF.

Aw, look at that face. STOP MAKING THE RAT STAY AWAKE!

All I can find is “an abnormal increase in metabolic rate.” So…um…you run fast and hot and die, then? I guess? From lack of sleep? This isn’t very sciency at all. You killed those poor rats for THAT? That seems wasteful. I’m so tweeting Andreas right now to see what he thinks about this shit, yo.

OMG YOU GUYS. This probably interests no one but me, but I am MADE OF MAGIC. I WISHED Andreas, and he APPEARED. No kidding. (The magic came into play because I forgot it was Monday and he was up for work, not because I am magic, but let me have my pretend-time, ok?) So I was all “hey if you get up I need you, my Science Fellow” AND HE WAS THERE BAM. But now I can’t get him the link to that totally sciency article; my theory is because he is not MERKAN and it would be seditious to let him read it. Seditious? Is that the word I want? I’m way too tired to research that.

Andreas is currently looking into this for me, leaving me free to watch American Horror Story and write about other things. Maybe have a popsicle. Do I even HAVE other things? Sure I do, I always have something. If not, I make it up as I go along, I’m good like that. SOON WE WILL HAVE SCIENCY ANSWERS, though. That’s something we all look forward to around these parts.

(Also, ZOMG, could American Horror Story BE more effed up this season? Holy HELL.)

OK. What else. Work was the worst today and I was tired and people were being so weird and it was a terrible combination and it seemed like the longest shift in the world. I need tomorrow off quite badly. Otherwise I think I might lose my mind.

But THEN, AFTER work, C. and C. came to visit! They went to see The Shape of Things, and then came and visited me and we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese place and talked and talked and TALKED and laughed so hard that at one point I had to take my glasses off because I was weeping with laughter and I miss them so much and it was so nice to see them again. Old friends are something special, you know? I’ve known C. since…let’s see. I was probably 19? 20, maybe? We moved in together when I was 20, if I’m remembering correctly. So that’s about 20 years. There’s a lot of history there. New friends are wonderful – hell, all friends are, let’s be honest – but old friends, the ones that know all your history and your baggage and just all your STUFF and you can say, “remember that time…?” with, that’s something special. It really truly is. Dumbcat was happy to see C. because she is one of his favorite humans, and once he stopped freaking out he even let both of them pet him, which was nice.

OK. We have a VERDICT from ANDREAS. He’s the scienciest, no joke, you guys. Have I mentioned how much I adore Andreas lately? (I’ve always adored him, I mean, have I MENTIONED it lately.) Seriously, just such a wonderful person. I can’t even, I’ll get all weepy.

Hypermetabolism is when the metabolism gets into turbo mode, usually after a trauma like multiple bone fractures or similar. It seems to be a way of speeding up the healing process, but it costs a lot in terms of food. 

You can also have organ specific hypermetabolism, like in the brain, so full body hypermetabolism means that the whole body increases its metabolic rate, not just parts of it.

Oh, THIS is exciting. Andreas TOTALLY knew what it was.

Does anyone else have ALL THE CURIOSITY about “brain hypermetabolism?” I think I might have this. My brain is ALWAYS buzzing. Good grief.

This is apparently a hypermetabolic brain? PRETTY.

Then I had a BILLION QUESTIONS FOR ANDREAS and he was kind enough to answer MORE of my questions. Here are some of them:

So, first, this seems like a terrible thing to do to these rats, yo. 

Second, the lack of sleep, for some reason, sped up their body processes? ALL of them? To the point that they DIED? 

How? Why? The article didn’t tell us at all. So the doctors don’t even know? And the rats died for no REASON? 

This is all very strange.

Andreas is very patient with me. It’s one of the million wonderful things about him.

(And yes, right now you are seeing how I actually write an email to someone. As you can see, my email is very similar to how I write here. I’m a complete dork EVERYWHERE I GO. Luckily, my people still love me.)

And yes, poor rats indeed. The cruellest of all sciences is biology – which sort of counts as ironic in my book (and is one of the reasons I got out of it). And I won’t even mention the kittens. 

Yes, according to this study, the rats entered a state of hypermetabolism due to lack of sleep. So apparently lack of sleep is like a physical trauma to the body. Or it could be an odd side effect. We clearly don’t know yet. Either way it’s lethal, so get some sleep you!

I am glad Andreas is not mentioning the kittens. *shudder*


So, apparently, if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to start burning fast and hot and then die. Like a rat. Or a COMET.

Also, this probably explains why I’m all shaky. I’m having PHYSICAL TRAUMA.

Tonight, I can go to bed WHENEVER I WANT. I can then wake up, again, WHENEVER I WANT. I’m going to just REVEL in sleep. I’m going to LOLL AROUND in it. I’m going to be SO LAZY. It’s going to be AMAZING. Then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do a billion things, but mostly I’m going to be rested. It’s going to be SO SO AMAZING I CAN’T EVEN.Let’s have a moment of silence for the rats that died so we can know…um…something, I guess. I don’t know what, exactly, and neither do the sciency types, or even my MOST sciency type, Andreas, who knows EVERYTHING. Sayonara, ratsies. I’m sorry you had to die for this strange study that really didn’t seem to prove much of anything at all other than scientists can be kind of sadistic and that no one should be forced to stay awake on a small floating island where they might drown at any minute.

Off to bed. Wish me happy sleeps. ALL OF THEM.

Don’t know much about a science book…don’t know much about the French I took…

We’ve been having a lot of posts that make poor Andreas’s blood pressure go up lately and I’m worried I might kill my Science Fellow.

Listen, how would I live with myself? Andreas is one of my favorite people in all the land. In ANY land. He always makes me laugh, and he checks in with me to see how my day is going, and he has a lovely family, and he’s so smart and sciency. My life is such a better place with Andreas in it. What would I do if I killed him off because I made him so angry his whole head exploded because of women’s rights issues or ill-informed American politicians thinking we have a uterine defense system to stop rapist-sperm? Oh, wait, sorry, LEGITIMATE rapist-sperm, not the other kind. Let’s make sure we’re clear.

You know you have the right friends when they email you things such as this. Thank you, R.!

Anyway, as an apology for upsetting Andreas lately, I promised him I would write him a sciency post. One that DOESN’T make his head explode. An ACTUAL sciency post. Andreas totally deserves this, because even though these posts have upset him? He totally still reads them. And comments. That’s a true friend, right there. You all deserve an Andreas.

Today, we’re going to talk about something for TWO people I love: both Andreas AND me! We’re talking about both science AND language. Science for Andreas and language for me. (Bonus: Andreas is also keen on language, and I’m also keen on science, so really, this is a win all around for everyone. WINNING FOR ALL!!!!1!)

Lots to discuss today, my little Footballians. And also Andreas! Thank you for not dying, Andreas. If you do die, please be kind and wait until after I’m dead. I’d much rather not live in a world without you in it. Thank you in advance!

First: children and language and books and school.

I think at this point, everyone’s aware of the benefits of reading to children at a very young age, right? They even say that reading to your pregnant belly (or your lady-friend’s pregnant belly, I don’t want to be sexist) before your baby is born is beneficial – I mean, the kid doesn’t come out knowing the plot of the story, but he or she is more bonded with you, knows the sound of your voice, possibly has a little better-developed brain area. But science totally PROVES we need to be reading to our kiddos! And also that it sets them up to be lifetime readers! So you need to get those books out. If you don’t have kids, find a kid! Read to a kid! Recently, a friend who will remain nameless because I don’t know that it’s public information totally let me long-distance borrow her kiddos and read to them via webcam. IT WAS THE BEST. I read them a book I loved when I was a wee Amy and I had the BEST TIME. (And they seemed to enjoy themselves, as well.) Thank you, top-secret friend who let me borrow your amazing kiddos that I love to pieces and want to give the biggest hugs to! Man, I wish The Nephew was closer. I would read to him every DAY.

Aw! Reading to kids = one of the best things in all the world.

Anyway, per these two articles from one of my FAVORITE sciency websites, Science Daily (who doesn’t want science DAILY? I totally do!) what kiddos learn in preschool influences them for their whole lives. Interesting, right? Apparently, kids that were not only with peers who communicate better but in classrooms where the teachers encourage communication are better prepared for life; and kids that are in preschool classrooms where books and literacy are encouraged, as well as homes where the same thing is happening, learn to appreciate and love books. But we already kind of knew these things, I think. It’s nice that science backs them up.

Look, it’s like a wee Amy! Aw!

I would just like to say, to my kindergarten teacher (I want to say her name was Miss Sears, but it’s been 33 years since I started kindergarten, ZOMG I AM SO OLD) who was CONSTANTLY squelching my tendencies to chatter away to classmates: BOO ON YOU. Science has proven you should have ENCOURAGED my verbosity. INSTEAD, you made me feel EMBARRASSED.

A regular day in kindergarten would go thusly:

I would chatter away to one of the kids at my long table at a time I was not supposed to chatter away. I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT LIFE AND BEING AROUND PEOPLE.

My name would be put in a punishment box on the blackboard. I would be very embarrassed. I would attempt to stay silent because I hated to be in trouble.

About ten minutes later, I couldn’t control myself anymore, so I’d start talking again. I would get a check after my name. Strike two! Ooh, TWICE as embarrassing. I’d get all red-faced and try VERY VERY hard to be quiet.

Chatter, chatter, chatter. Like a magpie, I was! Like a little baby adorable unable-to-shut-it magpie.

About ten minutes later, what’s this? Wee Amy’s chattering away again. ANOTHER CHECK! Strike three. Three strikes meant you had to sit out during playtime and didn’t get to play in the big crawl-through tunnel, or with the dress-up clothing. UGH WORST.

What was I doing ten minutes later? If you guessed chattering, you’d be right. Listen, I couldn’t control myself. That meant I got my name CIRCLED, and the punishment for that was I had to sleep next to the smelly kid during naptime. That was, apparently, the worst punishment my kindergarten teacher could think of back in the late 70s. Can you even imagine such a thing now? That poor kid. His family didn’t have much money. It wasn’t his fault he smelled weird. He had to have known he was being used as a punishment. That’s really terrible.

Anyway, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson, but I totally never did, and never have. I’m still just as loud and irrepressible. Mostly I think what I learned is that I don’t like being told what to do. Sorry, Miss Sears which may or may not have been your name because I don’t remember it at all because THIRTY-THREE YEARS SIGH.

Me then, me now. Some things don’t change.

Anyway, the second article also tells us that not ONLY does reading and discussing literature with kids from a young age, both in a home and school setting, set them up for future success, but speaking to children using adult vocabulary is also extremely beneficial. I am here to attest to this, not only on a personal level, but on a vicarious level. I will tell you stories! To illustrate! When I was little, my parents did not (still don’t) believe in baby-talk. They thought it was annoying. I don’t know that they knew that there was SCIENCE behind it, but they didn’t do it. I was brought up on adult vocabulary from a very young age. I remember when I was young – four, maybe? five? – seeing the word “Arkansas” on a box of my father’s, and telling him, “Ar-kansas? Why is Kansas spelled like this?” and he laughed, but very nicely, and explained that although it had the word “Kansas” in it, and was a state, it had nothing to do with Kansas and was actually pronounced differently. He was always so proud when I figured something out on my own. You don’t do kids any favors when you talk to them all “boo boo wubby bubby” because who the hell’s brain are you helping develop then? They’re not CARTOON characters. They’re CHILDREN. You need to give them every advantage in the whole world. Stop talking to them like they’re Teletubbies.

Your children are not primary-colored nonsense-spouting creatures. Don’t talk to them like they are.

Second, vicariously: I refuse to talk to The Nephew like he’s a baby. Even when he WAS a baby. I mean, I don’t use a total serious grownup VOICE with him, because my grownup voice is low for a lady and can be a little scary for a kiddo, so I try to use a nicer, lighter voice. But I use my real vocabulary. (I leave out the cusses. I’m not a complete dummy.) The Nephew REVELS in big words. The last time I was home, he did something wacky – I don’t remember what it was – and looked at me with his little happy face to see what I thought of that and I said, “Well! Isn’t THAT a confusing development!” and he LAUGHED. He was SO DELIGHTED. “A confusing development!” he said. The kiddo loves grownup words. They just tickle him. I like to imagine that there’s a little of Aunt Amy in there, and that’s what’s driving his complete and total love of language. (His mom also loves to read, so I SUPPOSE I could credit it to her…but it makes me happy to grab onto it for myself. I’m a little greedy, please forgive.)

On a related note, this article says that households where multiple languages are spoken provide children with better emotional development. Again, nice that there’s science, but I’m pretty sure we’ve always known that it benefits kids to learn multiple languages from a young age. I learned MANY words in other languages from a young age. Ready? I will totally share them with you. “Scheiße!” “Danke schön, Fräulein!” “Biergarten!” “Marteau!” “Peligro!” (The first three are, I’m fairly sure, all the German my dad learned while stationed there in the Army (please apologize if any of those are spelled incorrectly), the next is the French word for “hammer” which, for some reason, is the only word my dad remembers his almost-wholly-French-speaking grandfather saying to him. I’m pretty sure my great-grandfather knew more words than the word for “hammer” but that’s all my dad remembers him saying, and the last is a word I remember from Sesame Street.) I’m being sarcastic, of course, about all my foreign-language learning as a kiddo. I knew very little foreign language as a kid. I learned a little in school (Oui, oui! J’ai étudié le français pendant sept ans à l’école!) and I’ve forgotten more French than I learned in all those years of work. But I can still muddle my way through it, if I need to and it’s pretty basic. The Nephew watches a lot of Dora and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan so I think he’s going to be super-prepared to meet the global economy. Even though when he watches Ni Hao, Kai-Lan my dad and brother say, “PROPAGANDA! THE TEEVEE IS TRYING TO TURN HIM INTO A COMMIE!” and The Nephew looks at me with a barely-constrained eye-rolly look and I think, oh, kid, you’re learning that look really early, aren’t you?

TURNING THE NEPHEW INTO A COMMIE! Side note: someone called my answering service the other day and said “ni hao!” so I knew they were Chinese! WINNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES!

By the way, that article says the following: “For example, a native Finnish speaker may be more likely to use English to tell her children that she loves them because it is uncommon to explicitly express emotions in Finnish.” Andreas! Is that a true thing about Finland? Oh, shit. I would never fit in there! I express my emotions ALL THE DAMN TIME. In words, in actions, in type, in LOUD SPEAKING WAYS. Are Finns not overly emotive? Aw! Finns! You should talk more about your emotions. It’s good to get that stuff out. It makes people feel good and makes YOU feel good!

This popped up when I Googled “Finnish.” Andreas, are people wearing such things in your land? Hmm.

This is getting crazy long and I have MORE things to discuss. SO MUCH SCIENCE. And language! Science and language! (I feel sad these articles are light on science. Bad job, Science Daily.)

This article tells us that the language we use can affect our mood. I kind of love that. First: talking about a situation, even if it’s scary or bad, can make you feel better about it. That seems kind of self-explanatory – I think everyone knows that talking about something is better than keeping it all bottled up. I think science has backed that up for a while now. (My problem is, I talk about the silly little shit all the livelong day, but the serious shit, which I suppose is the stuff that I could BENEFIT talking about, I refuse to discuss. Don’t even ask. I won’t do it. I don’t feel it’s anyone’s business but my own. Aren’t most people like that, though? We all have some serious shit we aren’t comfortable blabbing about, even us chatty-chat bloggers. Or do you all talk about every single thing in your lives? I’m honestly curious.)

The article also says if you want to be less of a gloomy Gus, talk about bad things (even if they’re ongoing) in the past tense, and good things (even if they haven’t happened yet) in the present tense. It’s apparently supposed to do something positive to your brain and make you less grumpy. I think it would make me more grumpy to be less precise with my language. I don’t want to say something’s ended if it’s still ongoing, because that would be wrong, and also a lie. I hate saying things that aren’t true if I have any control over it. It might be sciency but I think it wouldn’t work on me.

And finally, here, we have an article about how scientists are trying to learn animal languages, because they finally realized that if gorillas and parrots can learn English, we should be able to learn animal-languages. I WANT TO LEARN ANIMAL-LANGUAGE. Sometimes I meow at Dumbcat. If I hit just the right tone, he totally responds. I have no idea what I’m saying to him, or if I’m insulting him or what kind of conversation we’re having, but it’s a fun little game we play. YES YES I know I spend a lot of time with my cat. Shush, you. You would too, if your cat was this awesome. As I write this, he has curled up as small and tight as possible, and he is SNORING LIKE A CHAINSAW. All superglued to my leg. He loves unemployment, this cat. Oh, Dumbcat, eventually I need to go back to work, buddy.

Anyway, the article says they’re learning to talk prairie dog. That’s all well and good, but I want to learn to talk Dumbcat. Let me know when you’ve cracked the code of how to talk Dumbcat, science-types. I’ll be pleased to get that news. I think he has a lot to tell me.

These prairie dogs are speaking the language of lurrrrve.

Andreas! Happy sciency news with many tangents. Nothing that will get your blood pressure up or your head exploding. How’d I do? HAVE A LOVELY SUNDAY ANDREAS! And also, don’t die! Ever! Thank you!

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