Tis the season to forget your friends’ birthdays

There are hundreds of interesting scientific studies linking winter birthdays to depression and other illnesses, and all of these studies propose cool mechanisms like womb effects and seasonal disease agents. Although I’m sure most of these proposed mechanisms are totally reasonable, I’ve always wondered about the cumulative effect of simply having your birthday ignored. Instead of thinking about you, your friends and family are thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanza, New Year’s resolutions, and weight gain. And you’re saying, every year, “That’s OK, I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” … suppressing your disappointment year after year, silently throwing dagger eyes at your friends who have exciting birthday parties on the beach during the summer.

So after decades of wondering, I finally did the Google Trends search to see if interest in buying birthday presents dips. The result will surprise nobody with a winter birthday, I suspect:

Winter birthdays depression

So this holiday season, show your December and January friends some love.

By the way: season-of-birth (SOB) studies SHOULD include people who don’t actually know their true birthday (but for some reason the scientists know). I know that’s going to be a small data set, but that would allow the effects of womb and birthing time to be separated from the cumulative (social) effects of having birthdays in different months. There are a lot of factors in addition to just Christmas. Kids who have birthdays during the school year have a much, much easier time getting all their friends to the party (summertime takes people away on family vacations), and often their birthdays are announced on the school intercom — the cumulative effects of that cannot be zero, I claim.

And when people don’t know their birthday, which month do they choose? I’d love to know that.

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Vaccine waiver for evolution objectors

For those of you who object to the existence of evolution, here’s a handy sticker to place on your health insurance card so you don’t get vaccinated by accident. Just print PDF onto sticker paper … and give extras to your like-minded friends. The flu virus is constantly evolving, so hoping these will come in handy. Or, if you don’t think the flu virus is evolving, ask for last year’s vaccine … it’s much cheaper!

Vaccine waiver

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Donate to the Charles Darwin Foundation

If you’re in the sciency mood on Giving Tuesday, here’s a good cause: The Charles Darwin Foundation. I suspect they’d be glad to hear from you any day, though. The center may close down due to lack of funds (details). Please spread the word, especially to evolved millionaires.

Charles Darwin in a Santa hat

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Open letter to produce managers re: yams

Dear Produce Manager,

If you want to sell more orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, craft your labels with “yams” in parentheses, like this:

Sweet potatoes (“yams”)

Because you are a produce manager, you undoubtedly know that a yam is a completely unrelated thing, so using quotation marks will indicate to ignorant shoppers that you are not actually selling yams. As you also surely know, “yam” is regional slang used by some (generally older folks) to refer to a sweet potato that has orange flesh. But if you only have “yams” on label, some shoppers might get flustered and leave for another store that labels sweet potatoes as “sweet potatoes.” Still others are looking for a specific variety of orange-fleshed sweet potato (Beauregard, Jewel, etc.), so list that, too. E.g.,

‘Beauregard’ sweet potatoes (“yams”)

That’s a lot of text, but different varieties are good for different recipes, and some of your customers are over-educated foodies who care deeply about such details. Ideally, cut one in half and cover in plastic wrap to convince skeptical shoppers that it does, indeed, have orange flesh.

Sincerely,
Colin Purrington

These are sweet potatoes

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