Monday, November 21, 2005

Aluminium Foil Hats, Chat Rooms and NPR

As often happens in chat conversations*, the topic leapt to 'tinfoil hats' the other night when a group of Absolute Write people, all jonesing because the board was being moved to a new host, had gathered to commiserate in the AWChatRoom. Some of the overseas members were a bit puzzled by the reference and various folks pitched in with explanations. (* I'm not kidding here, I can't tell you the number of times it's happened. Maybe it's because I keep bringing it up...)

I had just heard it said that morning on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", the NPR news game show that airs on my local public broadcast channel every Saturday at 11 am, that a study on the efficacy of aluminium foil helmets had been conducted-- somewhere, by someone, but I missed the details because I was coming in from the car and it took me awhile to get settled and turn the radio back on.

See, Wait, Wait has this part in the program where the three panelists each share a news story and only one story is real, albiet usually strange and a bit hard to believe, and the other two are completely made up - often sounding more real and reasonable than the real ones. If you are the contestant and you guess the real one, you get Carl Kasell doing the outbound message for your answering machine. It would get me to cancel my current service and buy a machine...anyway, that part is my favorite part of the show. I've "won" it many a time listening to the show in the car on my back from Morgan Hill where I'd dropped off the kids for a weekend with their dad who lives further south - Morgan Hill is the midpoint for us. Reminds me of those spy exchanges at the center of "no mans land" when there was still a Berlin Wall. Oh dear, I'm really wandering around today...back to the tinfoil hats.

So, that morning on Wait, Wait the contest's "real story" was the one about tinfoil (ok, aluminium) hats. Thus, whilst I was in the AWChat room, I was also frantically searching the NPR site for the story. I couldn't find a link to it! Dang. I was at the right place but the details of the show were all wrong, and I realize today (as I go back to grab the link for this blog) it's because they don't post the link to the show I heard on Saturday until Sunday. (by the way, you can listen to the whole show or just a particular segment. I recommend the segment featuring Dan Savage (it's not the one with the aluminum hat story, though).

Tonight, however, I'm surfing around and go to visit Making Light. They have an open thread and I was reading the comments which is what open thread is all about (and which are always wonderful and make me wish I could have stayed in college for the last 27 years so I'd be as smart as they are. I feel quite dumb to be honest, when I read over there).

ANYWAY (sheesh, Dawno, get to the point) 'bout midway thru the comments someone posts a link to a website titled: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study which I'm pretty sure is the study that was featured on Wait Wait. I am so happy to have found it that I just have to share. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't compare aluminium to tin. Perhaps some other student will take that on. Closure is a fine thing.

A parting note: I invite all of you to check out the other blogs I mention over in the sidebar in my AW blogroll It's a wonderful group of writers putting out these blogs. I'm sure you'll enjoy visiting as much as I do.

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rosemerry said...

does this mean I can wear my tinfoil hat and no one will make fun of me anymore?

rosemerry from AW

Hilary said...

Hiya Dawno,

I followed the link to your site from eraser's blog. I got a laugh out of your tin foil hat post, and thought I'd share one of my favourite related URLs.

Hilary :)

Mac said...

Oh dear...Dawno, put the hat back's not doing you any good with your cat wearing it around.

Dawno said...

lyra jean - I think the MIT study gives a certain weight of authority to the practice, but no, people will still make fun of you. However, if you cover the foil with a nice crochet hat with flowers you'll still get full benefit *and* look cute.

hilary, Welcome! Thanks for dropping by. That link is hysterical. The Spankhurts ladies are quite talented. Really frightening looking, but talented. :-) Oh, and otters - not cats. lol!

Mac, if I don't put it on the cat then the aliens control the cat and since the cat controls us...well you see my dilemma!

emeraldcite said...

I'm actually wrapped in tinfoil as we speak.

I think I'm picking up a signal...

Dawno said...

em, just remember, the rule is 20 minutes per pound and don't pre-stuff...oh, you're not getting ready for roasting?

If you're wearing the foil to be alluring I think you should have gotten Saran Wrap, not Reynolds Wrap.

emeraldcite said...


Frank Baron said...

Tinfoil! Doh!

No wonder I've been beset by aliens. I've been wearing plastic wrap.

emeraldcite said...

Didn't Saran Saran shoot RFK?