Smoking, Citing, Growing, Mangling

Nothing of particularly great import, but a few zany facts and oddities for you to file away in that spongy gray filing cabinet of yours.

  • Less is more:

    “Smokers who pride themselves on successfully cutting back as a step toward quitting tobacco altogether may be caught in a haze of self-deception. New research shows smokers who slash their cigarette use by half quickly change the way they smoke to compensate for less exposure — ironically, in the process, often boosting their consumption of smoke, carbon monoxide, nicotine and other cancer-causing agents.”

    (via EurekAlert: “Cutting back on cigarettes: when less is more” [May 20, 2004])

  • Two intrepid engineers explore the question of just how many people actually read the papers they cite (PDF File). Their area of focus is scientific journal literature, though its ramifications certainly aren’t limited to that. The title of their article, Read before you cite!, should give you an idea of their perspective. The paper’s a bit heavy (though short), but the gist of it is, only about 20% of people actually read what they cite. (I’m guessing it’s probably even lower for less formal forums, such as blogs, though the ease of following links might make the percentages about equal.) Anyway, it’s kinda intriguing and reemphasizes (though not so directly) the danger of spreading information without first checking it out. (“Read before you cite!” by M.V. Simkin and V.P. Roychowdhury)
  • Hair acts like Artic ice cores. No, really! (Reuters: “Hair Is a Dead Giveaway, Scientists Say” by Jeremy Lovell [May 26, 2004])
  • In a speech at the War College in Carlisle, PA, Bush thrice mangled his pronunciation of Abu Ghraib:

    “But the Republican president, long known for verbal and grammatical lapses, stumbled on the first try, calling it abugah-rayp. The second version came out abu-garon, the third attempt sounded like abu-garah.”

    (Reuters: “Bush trips over Abu Ghraib pronunciation” [May 25, 200])