Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weird Science and Biting the Hand That Feeds You

On Monday, the Pennsylvania groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, thereby forecasting six more weeks of winter. New York’s Staten Island Chuck didn’t see his shadow, thus predicting an early spring. What’s a person to do when groundhogs can’t agree on the weather? Turn, turn, turn to science.

Sure, meteorologists’ predictions of snowfall may miss the mark by inches or miles, but big picture’s usually right.  In New York City, recent winter storm Juno didn’t live up to its hype as “potentially historic,” but Massachusetts got hit hard.

Does this post sound like a snow-obscured criticism of the anti-vaccination folks? I admit anti-vaxxers’ distrust of science is on my mind, but I don’t expect New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to defend the historical accuracy of groundhogs’ weather predictions or champion Americans’ right to choose their sources of weather news.

Did you know Punxsutawney Phil bit the gloved hand of one of his handlers Monday? I don’t blame the rodent. Would you like to be roused from a warm burrow and exhibited before flashing lights in near-freezing temperatures?

Phil’s got a better excuse for peevishness than I do, but when has lack of good reason ever stopped me? Ready for another rant?

It’s good science to consume vitamin- and mineral-rich fruits like citrus, but you won’t catch me buying Halo mandarins.

I find the Halo commercials disturbing. Why? Pouty, apparently non-verbal kids threaten parents who allowed the family’s larder to run bare of mandarins. One child points a laser at his father. Another slips the decapitated head of a toy horse into her parents’ bed. In both cases, cowed parents rush to the grocery store to stock up on Halos. Wait! What happened to time-out for kids who threaten bodily harm and destroy things?

“It’s just a commercial,” Hubs says. “The kids are demanding fresh fruit instead of candy. You should be happy.”

I’m not. Those kids are creepy. Next thing you know, they’ll want groundhogs as pets. As adults, they’ll take their parents to court for having had them vaccinated.

Your turn: Punxsutawney Phil, science, or both? Love or hate those Halo mandarin commercials?