How do you cure the hiccups?

I have a hypothesis about hiccups. Specifically, I’m hypothesizing that the cures for hiccups run along family lines – in other words, which cure is most likely to work is somehow inherited. In my family, for example, a heaping spoonful of peanut butter works every time. For other families, a glass of water does the trick. Yet other people may cure their hiccups by being startled.

The problem, aside from the fact that I’m not a scientist and have no real connections to anybody in the medical world, is that I can think of only one way to test such a hypothesis: polling a large sample of the general population. I can’t imagine any way to do a controlled, double-blinded study, which is what I’d really like to see. You can’t give somebody a sugar pill and convince them it’s a glass of water. You can’t even (as far as I know) consistently cause hiccups in people, so even if you did find some way to do a controlled study, it would take forever to gather a significant number of samples.

The biggest problem with polling people, I think, is that it relies on self-reporting. Asking people what works and what doesn’t is, as a way of finding anything out, extremely vulnerable to peoples’ biases, preconceptions, and misconceptions. (See the Wikipedia article on superstition, subsection “Superstition and psychology“). People tend to link two actions if those actions happen sequentially, even if they actions are unrelated. Once this link is formed, it can be reinforced by confirmation bias and the placebo effect.

So, asking random people what kinds of hiccup solutions work is a really unreliable way to get good data, but I don’t know what else to try. I’m asking you: what works? How do you cure the hiccups? Does your family use a similar method? What about your friends, coworkers, et cetera? I’m asking these questions purely out of curiosity, not as part of any formal study. You can answer whenever you read this; there’s no end date.

The Blender Foundation wants to make a Free movie.

The Blender Foundation has announced that they want to make a movie. They’re crowdfunding it with the hope of reaching €1.9 million (that’s $2.626 million US dollars calculated using DuckDuckGo). €1.6 million with their own resources, for a total of €3.5 million ($4.837 million). That’s the minimum amount they would need to make Project Gooseberry, as they’re currently calling it.

The best part is, this being the Blender Institute (makes of great shorts like Big Buck Bunny and Sintel), they’ll release everything Free under the Creative Commons Attribution license. In fact, they’ve already started doing that.

CD review: Louis Landon’s “Ten Years: A Peaceful Solo Retrospective”

I wrote this review yesterday as a requirement for one of my university courses. I’ve never done a CD review, and my supervisor couldn’t give me any guidance except to make it about as long as a blog post. So I’m making it an actual blog post.

Artist: Louis Landon
Album: Ten Years: A Peaceful Solo Piano Retrospective

Overall I felt this album was quite peaceful. I want to buy a copy for myself now!
Below is a record of my thoughts written as I listened to each track. I haven’t edited it except to correct any spelling errors.

Continue reading

Capstone project: Multi-sensory data representation

I just finished this project as homework for one of my fall term classes. The assignment’s requirements can be summarized simply as “Do something cool with graphs”. That’s really what the entire class was about: collecting data and finding ways to represent that data.

My project was about two main goals: to collect data that nobody would think to collect, and to present data in ways that nobody would think to present it. Continue reading

Book Report: Connections

This was a book report I wrote for my history class. The requirements were that I choose a book which was about some aspect of the societies we’ve studied, and that the length of the report be 4-5 pages. It was a bit of a challenge getting the length down to 5 pages; there was so much I wanted to say.

For anyone interested, the book can be bought here from Amazon, or the TV show on which it’s based here.

Continue reading

The fates myst be conspiring to rive my money from me.

The fates myst be conspiring to rive my money from me. How else could there suddenly be so may exciting Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and I have so little money to give?

I got my first own computer in 1998. Not the first computer I ever had, but the first that was officially my own. It ran Windows 98, had a 14.8 GB hard disk, and had a DVD drive and decoder card (remember those?) so I could watch movies on its gigantic 21-inch CRT monitor. That monitor weighed so much it left a permanent dent in my desk.

I loved playing computer games. At first I played old DOS games, things like QBasic Nibbles and Pharaoh’s Tomb. That was what I had, since my previous computer had been a DOS machine. Then my mom bought something new: “Ages of Myst”. It was a small box containing the games Myst and Riven. We played the games together, she and I. I fell in love with them immediately. Continue reading