Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Call for Fallacies

My Math 1030 class opens in one week from today, and the first chapter in our textbook is on critical thinking and logical fallacy. To that end I'm trying to put together a set of examples of logical fallacies as expressed in articles, politics, books, etc. Here is a list of the fallacies I'm looking for:
  • appeal to popularity: "a lot of people believe this is true, therefore it's true"
  • false cause: A came before B, therefore A causes B
  • appeal to ignorance: "there is no proof that this is true, therefore it's false"
  • hasty generalization, or "the plural of 'anecdote' is 'data'": "this happened a bunch of times, so it must be generally true"
  • limited choice, aka false dichotomy: "either this is true, or that's true" (ignoring a third way)
  • appeal to emotion: "this is all warm and fuzzy, therefore it's true" (or, alternatively, "this is all slimy and yucky, therefore it's false")
  • personal attack, aka ad hominem, tu quoque: "he's a degenerate puppy blender, therefore whatever he says is false"
  • circular reasoning
  • diversion, aka red herring: "this is true, and this is vaguely associated with that, therefore that is true"
  • straw man
  • appeal to authority
If you can link to any example of any of these fallacies that you encounter in the course of your blog reading, please post them in the comments. Any source will do-- political thought (liberal, conservative, and otherwise), advertising, op-eds, you name it, as long as it can be cited.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vacation: Now We're Home

We are home now from vacation. I am NEVER going to California with the kids again.

We discovered that the reason Sonshine's screen of our new dual-screen portable DVD player wasn't working was because he had bent three of the nine pins on the jack. When he had meltdowns on the way to California, he had kicked the back of the seat and pulled the cable out of his screen, and when he tried to plug it back in, he had it rotated wrong but he shoved it on anyway. This, by the way, would be the cable that I had to have specially made, at a cost of nearly $25 and an hour spent on the phone trying to find a firm in Salt Lake City that could make such a specialized cable for me in the first place. He also damaged the jack that the cable plugs into. Thus by means of his meltdowns, Sonshine managed to half ruin a brand new piece of electronic equipment.

His screen rendered useless, Sonshine had nothing better to do on the trip back than pester Bagel the entire way. Bagel started screaming, but he also gives as good as he gets, so then Sonshine started screaming. Knuckles, who's sensitive to noise, started screaming from all the noise. Princess, who was still trying to watch the movie through all this screaming, made a tent over her screen out of her blanket, which further enraged Sonshine because now he couldn't see the one working screen at all. Then FH started screaming at the kids, and I started screaming at FH to calm down before he ran us all off the road. I think my hearing is permanently impaired.

I hope I never have to eat another meal at a restaurant with my family again. Eating with them is like trying to eat while conducting a science class in the monkey enclosure of the local zoo during the aftershocks of an earthquake. The table is shaking from Sonshine kicking it, Bagel is trying to poke you in the butt while climbing the side of the booth (a feat only he seems capable of pulling off), Knuckles is trying to grab your roll (to which he is violently allergic) and the whole time Princess is questioning you about the intimate details of the life cycles of frogs or the theological implications of various events in the Book of Mormon, or some other such topic.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Vacationblogging: The Pornographic Restaurant

This evening we met up with my uncle and aunt, and went out to dinner at a place called Buca di Beppo, which evidently is Italian for "softcore pornography." The place was decorated with memorabilia and pictures of Italian people making funny faces, but among those were some very, ahem, interesting pictures, like one of a nude male statue holding his private parts, or a woman posing on a car, and any number of cute baby bottoms, winged cherubs, and pics of cheesecake in bikinis. Sonshine noticed each and every one of these pictures right away, and though we tried to downplay them for the sake of his sanity, it eventually became too much for him to bear and he had to be removed from the restaurant. Thankfully he decided to use his words and ask to be removed from the restaurant instead of having a complete meltdown and forcing us to bodily remove him from the restaurant. The food was excellent and the service was great. Our server found that the chef had sprinkled some flour on Knuckles' chicken breast and had him re-do it because of Knuckles' wheat allergy. We were lucky to have such an attentive server.

After that we went to Downtown Disney. There was a wedding going on there, and any number of prom dates in formal dresses. Downtown Disney is one of those places that's designed to simulate some sort of vibrant marketplace, but really is all owned by the same firm, as witnessed by the same souvenir merchandise being available in every store. Having been at actual vibrant marketplaces, I rather resent that, and dislike the faux-marketplace effect.

Sonshine went absolutely insane with delight because there was a Lego store. He rocked his head back and forth at the sheer pleasure of being in a shop surrounded entirely by the objects of his Asperger's obsession. We bought him a small bucket of Lego wheels and a Lego bulldozer, but only after he spent a large quantity of time and effort running back and forth between every display, vaccilating over which precious treasures he wanted to take home from this Eden.

Princess, sadly, lost her "Princess Doll", a little rag doll that I made for her when she was very young. She had put her in her sack, but the doll must have fallen out somewhere in Downtown Disney. We looked for the doll, but to no avail. I tried to get ahold of the lost and found there by phone when we got home, but no one answered because it was "after hours". I'll try again on Sunday.

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Vacationblogging from California

I'm in California, just a few blocks away from Disneyland. Sadly (or perhaps not so sadly) we're not going to Disneyland. FH's company has a suite at a hotel out here, and when FH had a chance to pick his dates to use it, it happened to be free for Memorial Day weekend, so he took it. We were going to see my dad's side of the family, who all live in this area, but unfortunately my grandfather on that side passed away on Tuesday. I did get to see everyone else, though, at the memorial service. I wish it had been under better circumstances, but on the other hand I got to see everyone all in the same place, and it was nice to be able to bring all the kids and FH with me to see the relatives. I had figured on coming alone by plane to Grandpa's memorial, back when we thought it would be a couple more months away.

Traveling with the Aspies has been fun, if by "fun" you mean "extremely tiring and making you question whether it would have been better to stay home". Bagel adores car trips, but there are limits to how much car trip even Bagel can tolerate, and he doesn't adapt well to hotels and changes in his food routines. Sonshine's been the biggest challenge. I wrote him a social story to help him get through the vacation, and we were reading it every day, but he lost his folder where we had put the social story, the map, and the hotel brochure. The three days before the vacation were full of escalating behavior problems, and the trip itself was marked by frequent meltdowns over things like being hungry (even though he was provided with snacks) and not getting to choose the movie all the time. Knuckles only puked once, after eating a hamburger patty, but we think he might have an ear infection or something, and he's certainly been acting like something hurts. We must have stopped every half hour for either a bathroom stop or a meltdown discipline moment, and sometimes both. Princess has been good though, but she lost her new bathing suit and decided to bring, instead of the spare one that fits whose print she doesn't like, the one that's so stretched out that it falls off whenever she wears it. So we may have to get her a new bathing suit, again.

Thankfully we are staying in a suite. It's really nice, and bigger than our first apartment. There are two bedrooms, one with two beds for the kids, and one with one bed for FH and I. There's a crib for Knuckles, which is nice for when the kids are fighting over allergenic foods and get them all over the floor. There's a kitchen so that I can cook special food for Knuckles, and also so that we won't have to eat out all the time.

Tomorrow we are going to San Diego to see the Festa parade. I haven't been to a Festa in a long time, and I'm so looking forward to eating linguica, sopas, and sweet bread! And I'll get to see my sweet Nana, God bless her. We all love our Nana.

My Math 0900 class was cancelled, so I don't start work until June 7 when my Math 1030 class at SLCC begins. I'm not really keen on working at SLCC, it's a commute, and they pay about half of what USU pays. But it's work, and it still pays more than my more local options. I wish USU Extension would give me steady, reliable work, but people in Tooele think "bettering themselves" is best done by getting a bigger pickup truck, so there's not much demand for math classes out there.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Vegetable Rights

As my regular readers (all two of them) know, I'm an ardent vegetable rights activist. I also never thought in a million years I'd be linking to Pandagon, but they've posted a video that just encapsulates the whole Vegetable Rights movement. You have to see it.

Link via the Marvelous Mad Madam Mim.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Made The Switch

Inspired by this series of posts, I finally decided to do it. I even did it with my husband last night, for hours and hours! We did it from about 8:30 pm until after midnight. Yes, I've made the switch to Ubuntu on my business laptop.

I've spent a not inconsiderable amount of my business money on maintaining my laptop lately, and one of the things I bought was a new hard drive, because the old one was about to die. (One of the other things I bought was the hundred-dollar soldering iron my husband has been drooling over for years, but that's a long story.) I'd been reading those posts, and about the time the third one came out, I had ordered the hard drive, and it just clicked.

One of the things I've hated about Windows is its smug attitude, like "We're the only game in town and you know it, so if you know what's good for you, you'll grab your ankles and do whatever we ask of you." That's one kind of attitude I simply can't stand. It pisses me off to no end. Every day my Windows would remind me that it had "updates" (yes, I know you can turn off those reminders) and the "update" it wanted to install was some sort of check to see if you have a legitimate version of Windows-- "for your convenience" of course. I couldn't imagine what good that would possibly do me. If I don't have a legit version of Windows, then of course I wouldn't want to have Microsoft shutting down my computer; and if I do have a legit version of Windows, explain to me how checking it constantly to see if it's legit makes my computer go faster instead of just adding to the already considerable load Windows puts on my system. It just makes more sense to me to have an OS that's in keeping with the KISS principle.

Also, Quickbooks has been annoying me lately. I have Quickbooks 2004 and it's about to be unsupported, as all outdated products are. This wouldn't bother me, except that it's threatening to lose the ability to download bank statements at the end of this month unless I pay some hundreds of dollars to upgrade to the latest version of Quickbooks. Not that downloading bank statements is a big problem for me; I've never been able to get it to download PayPal transactions, which is the bulk of my business, so I'm already hand-entering all of those. But not only do I not have the money, I just don't like its attitude. Most businesses my size don't use accounting software with the power of Quickbooks, but I really need to be able to use a computer to keep track of all these details, since ordinarily (i.e. if I were getting any sleep at night and weren't trying to run a business with a kid hanging on each arm) I could keep track of them in my head. Someone will ask "Do you have a skillet handle cover in these colors?" and I want to be able to fire up the computer and say "I have 5 of them; how many do you need?" instead of wandering downstairs, pulling them out, sorting them out, and counting them, all the while hoping that the kids don't see where I've hidden them. I found an accounting program for Linux that does everything I've dreamed of, including having better pricing tools than Quickbooks and printing its own barcodes.

If Ubuntu and the Linux apps are a bit kludgy, so be it. It's not like Windows functions seamlessly, after all.

So it's official now: I'm an open source kind of gal. I have jumped off the S.S. Gates and am paddling frantically for the Island of the Penguins.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fundraiser for Marshall

I'm doing a fundraiser for my friend's 2 year old son Marshall. Marshall and Bagel are two peas in a pod, only Marshall has a PDD-NOS diagnosis while Bagel has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. (They're both autism spectrum disorders, they just have slightly different diagnostic criteria.) Marshall really needs a therapy swing to help him calm down so that his poor mom can get some much-needed rest, but the swing is expensive and since it's not a "medical device" it's not covered by insurance. So I'm helping her raise the money to buy it by donating 20% of my sales during the month of May. You can buy here, or if you don't need anything I have for sale, you can spread the word by linking to this post, or passing out flyers (download them here). Anything you can do to help Marshall is appreciated.

News Flashes

  • Knuckles' celiac panel came back negative for celiac disease, so he's just allergic to gluten. Since that's only a Class 2 allergen for him, he's likely to grow out of it. He's not, however, likely to grow out of the wheat allergy, but at least later on in life he'll be able to have barley and such.
  • I did a central checkout show in South Jordan, in the Daybreak area. It went fine. I'd consider doing it again. The houses in Daybreak are way gorgeous, and they're all crowded together on postage-stamp lots, some of which don't even have frontage. And good luck finding your way in or out through the spaghetti bowl of streets. Princess went with me and we stopped at Jordan Landing and bought her a nice new bathing suit and some tops. She is getting so big!
  • Sonshine now wants to be called by his middle name. A child at school was calling him after a cartoon character that shares his first name, and he didn't like it, so he thinks changing his name will help. We're calling him by his middle name now to show our support for him, but also encouraging him to simply tell the other kid that he doesn't like it and see if he can get him to stop. It's helpful that Mitt Romney is running for President on his middle name. He was about Sonshine's age when he started using his middle name, and for much the same reason as Sonshine. So we'll see how it goes.
  • Bagel's almost 3 now (only about 6 more weeks!) and he says he wants a truck cake for his birthday. Every day he asks me about it, so I'd better make him one. :)