Skepticurious Interesting & unusual things I find.


The High Cost of a Rattlesnake Bite

I learned the other day (through various Googling) that if you get bit by a rattlesnake you can expect a hospital bill of about $150,000!  Of that, about $140,000 is for the anti-venom.  Yikes!  Supposedly it has to do with the relatively low supply of snake bite venom and the relatively laborious method of making anti-venom (involving milking snakes and then injecting the venom into horses or cows and drawing off the anti-bodies).  By comparison, the total cost of treatment for a dog who gets bit seems to be about $3,000, the lower cost apparently being the result of them requiring less anti-venom and not requiring anti-venom which is developed under such tight controls as the human sort. If you get bit I sure hope you are either a dog or you have insurance!


A Celebration of Gay Children?

When I first heard about this site a very bad write-up of it suggested it was a site where people posted photos of contemporary children who people suspected were gay...  that sounded monstrously awful, baselessly labeling and speculating about children for one's own amusement.  Of course the site wasn't that...  it was instead a place where adults would post photos of themselves as children and a description of what it was like to be a "different" child.  It makes for quite a compelling read.    Visit Born Gay Born this Way.


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How to Find Out If Your Husband Sees Prostitutes

Stumbled upon an interesting article today on signs to look for that your husband is seeing prostitutes, broken down by the type of prostitute he might be seeing.

Signs He is Seeing Street Walkers:

  1. Condom wrappers in his car
  2. Separate purchases at the gas pump and inside a gas station, small dollar amounts might indicate condom purchases
  3. Small cash withdrawals or missing cash in the range of $30 - $100

Signs He is Seeing a Woman From an Escort Agency or Brothel:

  • Credit card charges which include the labels  "Airport Services", "Mobile Assistants", "Hotel Services", or "Massage Service"
  • Credit card charges in the $300 - $1000 range.
  • Multiple high dollar charges in the same day (possibly the deposit for the girl showing up and the final charge and/or tip).
  • His use of hotel phones to make calls instead of his cell phone.  If you know he's staying at a hotel, call the hotel and ask the person at the front desk about telephone activity/charges.

Signs He is Seeing Independent Escorts:

  • Late night ATM withdrawals
  • Unusual PayPal activity by your husband
  • Suspicious computer activity.  Check your husband's computer, looking at the browser history, browser cache, and searching for photos which may include escort photos.

To see the full list, go here.


Art of Live Impressionism

An artist has created some fascinating works by using humans as part of her canvas, making 3-D, living art.


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Can you own a rhinoceros or a ring tailed lemur in your state?

If you've ever wondered just what exotic animals you can own in your state, check out this wonderfully authoritative list from Born Free USA, a great animal advocacy group.



Big List of Military Ranks

Ever wonder what military rank is higher than another?  Does a Staff Sergeant outrank a Sergeant First Class?  Buzzle has an excellent summary of ranks across all the branches of the military, including the order of uniform stripes!


The Shocking Commonness of Abortion: 33% of Women Get an Abortion

I had always assumed abortions were relatively rare.  I had imagined that people who wanted babies had them, people who didn't want babies used birth control.  And where birth control failed the natural statistical reluctance of the body to get pregnant would keep the numbers of unintended pregnancies low.   Those who didn't use birth control, or didn't use it properly, would surely be a small minority.  I don't mean to sound overly naive here, I am exaggerating my surprise slightly, but I was genuinely stunned to see the statistics and learn that 1 out of every 3 women will get an abortion in their lifetime, creating 1.2 million abortions every year in America.  Regardless of where you see abortion on the morality spectrum, that's pretty messed up.  Many worthy debates have been had on the morality of abortion with neither side budging, but surely both sides can agree (excluding perhaps the Catholics) that in this day and age with medical science where its at and with so many decades worth of good family planning options available, it is insanity that 1.2 million people are having unplanned pregnancies every year.  The morality question attached to abortion would be relatively moot if people weren't getting unintentionally knocked up.

Before I end this post, some other surprising facts I found related to abortion:

  • 28% of abortions were performed on women who identified themselves as Catholics
  • 50% of abortions were done on women in their 20s.
  • 61% of abortions were done on women who already had a child.
  • 7% of abortions were done on women who claimed they had used protection properly (e.g., pill, condom)
  • ~33% of white women will have an abortion in their lifetime (11 per 1000 per year, over an average 30 year reproductive life)*
  • ~84% of Hispanic women in the US will have an abortion in their lifetime (28 per 1000 per year, over an average 30 year reproductive life)*
  • ~150% of African American women will have an abortion in their lifetime (50 per 1000 per year, over an average 30 year reproductive life).  This over unity percentage means that the average African American woman will have more than one abortion in her lifetime.*

Most shocking are the differences in abortion rates between whites and non-whites.  We can probably assume the primary explanation is socio-economic, a side effect of reduced quality of education, reduced availability of health resources (including contraception and pregnancy prevention education).

* These numbers were based on statistics cited in this Time Magazine article. while the math was based on the source for the rest of these statistics, an article on induced abortions from the Guttmacher Institute.



You Can Buy Software and Online Services Anonymously!

A little while ago I needed to buy a competitor's software product and because they were a competitor, and a pretty unscrupulous one, I didn't want to give them my name and credit card number for fear they might do "something" with it.  The solution I found is great!  Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards that you can buy at your local grocery store, pharmacy, Best Buy, etc.  The beauty of it is that you can pay in cash for the card when you buy it, leaving no record to tie back to your own personal credit card.  To further cement the fake identity you can, and sometimes must (because of security checks) log on to the virtual credit card's site (using the code on the card) and supply a fake name, fake address, and fake phone number which the credit card processor might validate against.

Because of federal laws related to money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorism these anonymous cards are limited to under $300 and they cannot be recharged (you cannot add more money to them later).  Also, be aware that these cards are technically debit cards, though they behave like credit cards.  I have noticed that some sites, particularly ones which involved recurring fees or the possible quick accumulation of charges, will not accept debit cards.

While I am not endorsing them, nor getting any reward for mentioning them, I will say I have used the Vanilla Visa card quite a few times and have had no complaints.


Stock Trading Hand Signals

If you've ever seen footage of people on the floor of an exchange you'll have seen the furious hand gestures the traders make.  If you've ever wondered what they mean, you can take a look at the reference image below or check out the New York Times article on the topic. Another useful description is found here.


Why Mosquitos Don’t Spread HIV

I has always wondered why mosquitoes don't seem to transmit HIV.  If they can spread malaria, why not HIV?  If they've got mouths like a syringe, why isn't being bitten like sharing a needle with the last guy the mosquito drew blood from?

Here's a synopsis of the most interesting bits of this article by Prof. Wayne Crans at Rutgers:

  • Mosquitoes don't extract enough blood to cause an infection.  The virus is so diffuse in infected people that it just won't take in enough to present a threat when it bites someone else. He estimates a 1 in 10 million probability that a mosquito could transfer even a single unit of HIV to another person, and a single unit would not be sufficient to cause that other person to become infected.
  • HIV is broken down by mosquitoes stomachs, being completely destroyed in 1-2 days, but even before that not allowing any virus reproduction that would cause anyone a threat.
  • Mosquito mouths are not actually like hypodermic needles in as much as they are effectively self-cleaning and one-way.  Hypodermic needles on the other hand typically inject the second user with some of the first user's blood that had been drawn up into the syringe. Mosquitoes spread malaria because that parasite is able to reproduce inside the mosquito and spread to the mosquito's salivary glans where it can then be injected into its victim.

I hate mosquitoes, but I am at least grateful to them for this small kindness.